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How to Find the Best Washing Machine Temperature Settings for Clean Laundry

Published Date:
January 29, 2024

Have you ever wondered if choosing the wrong temperature setting on your washing machine can ruin your clothes? Or which temperature is the best for different types of fabrics?

Why the Right Washing Machine Temperature Matters for Laundry

Does it matter what the temperature is when washing a load of laundry? Yes, it does! Fabric, condition, and detergent all play a part.

Should the Washing Machine Temperature Consistent for Every Load? No! This is a crucial bit of information your grandma probably knows but was somehow lost in generational translation.

Can’t you just set it and forget it? This is a common practice in most homes but one that will end up wasting money on unnecessary utility costs and could also damage your clothes.

Why not? Incorrect temperature settings can leave odor-causing bacteria and cause clothes to wear out more quickly. Here’s a breakdown of everything you need to know to save money and keep clothes looking fresh!

Choosing the right temperature setting can help preserve the color and shape of your clothing over time. Using too hot of a temperature setting can shrink clothes or fade colors faster than normal. Additionally, fabric softener can break down when washed in hot water which can cause it to build up on your clothing over time. If you’re using fabric softener, make sure to use a cold wash cycle instead!

What’s the Big Difference When it Comes to Washing Machine Temperature?

Most washing machines have a hot water setting of 130°F and a steam setting is even higher. Warm water settings range from 90°F to 110°F, while cold water is typically between 60°F and 80°F.

Most washing machines have three main temperature settings: cold, warm, and hot.

  • Cold water is perfect for washing more delicate items such as lingerie and hosiery. 
  • Warm water is great for washing most items like towels and sheets. 
  • Hot water should only be used for items that are heavily soiled or stained, like jeans or bedding with pet hair or fur. It’s important to note that while hot water may seem like the best option for killing germs and getting rid of dirt, it can also damage certain fabrics such as dress clothes, athletic wear, and older cotton garments.

So what temperature do you use? Let’s think about cooking a steak.

Not all cuts of steak are the same and, even if they were, not all people want their steaks cooked the same way. Some steaks get cooked at high temperatures for less time while others are cooked at cooler temperatures (but not cold!) for a longer time. It all depends on the steak and the chef!

Laundry is no different. We created these images below to help you out!

Hot vs. Cold Washing Machine Temperature: Choosing the Best Settings for Clean Laundry

For many years, it was thought that the only way to get clothes clean was with hot water. Old-school washing practice was to boil them for hours. It’s amazing the washed garments lasted at all! Most had considerably shorter lifespans.

Now we know that the type of fabric you’re washing plays a big part in how it should be treated. Caring for your clothing, your time, and the environment all play a part in the change in thought process around washing machine temperatures.

1. Read Your Labels

If you want your clothes to last and still fit, take the time to read the care labels on each new piece. This should tell you the best water temperature as well as the recommended washing cycle. At 2ULaundry, we train our laundry attendants to know that “you can do more damage in a washer than you can in a dryer.”

If you are taking the time and effort to read laundry care articles, you are likely very cautious about drying your clothes too long or at too high of a temperature to prevent damage.

Remember, you can do more damage in a washer than you can in a dryer. Take time to read your clothing’s care tags. We suspect after reading these, you’ll start washing on colder washing machine temperatures…

2. Sort Dirty Laundry Before Washing

This can be a tedious task but is one that will save you time and money in the long run. At 2ULaundry, we teach our laundry attendants to sort by the “Three T’s” – time, temperature, and texture.

  • Sorting Wash Cycles by Time: Your more delicate garments that are less soiled require shorter and colder wash cycles. Laundry that is heavier and more soiled (like jeans and towels) requires more time and warmer temperatures.
  • Sorting Wash Cycles by Temperature: This is where care labels come in. Your initial sort will get you started, now you are making sure nothing in the warmer washing machine temperature requires colder washing machine temperatures by checking the garment care tags.
  • Sorting Wash Cycles by Texture: By now, texture has likely worked itself out. However, if you have any thicker textured garments, these need longer wash cycles and warmer washing machine temperatures. The opposite is true for more slick textured garments like leggings, workout gear, etc. These lighter textured garments require shorter wash cycles and colder washing machine temperatures.

On top of general clothing care, this sorting practice will reduce lint and prevent color bleed by keeping similar items together. You might save some money on your energy bills too!

3. Water Temperature Guidelines for Your Washing Machine

Thanks to improvements in modern washing machine technology and improvements to detergent performance, cold water is king! Cold water washing machine temperature is recommended for the average laundry load, but there are times when a little heat is necessary.

Hot Water Washing Machine Temperature

If your garment or item needs to be sanitized or aggressive stain removal is required, opt for hot water. This is ideal for white cotton, undergarments, household towels, bed linens, and workwear. Keep in mind that always washing in hot water can cause shrinkage, fade bright colors, and set protein stains.

Warm Water Washing Machine Temperature

Warm water is best for lightly soiled synthetic fabrics like spandex, polyester, nylon, and other blends. This setting makes it easier for detergents to dissolve and is more efficient than hot water. Like hot water, warm water can cause some fading and isn’t suitable for heavy stains or sanitation.

Cold Water Washing Machine Temperature

A colder temperature is better for bright and dark-colored garments or delicate pieces. Cold water is the most energy-efficient temperature, saving you money in utility bills, and is less likely to damage your clothes. Stains should be pretreated before washing as cold water is less effective against heavy stains.

Do Different Washing Machine Cycles Spin at Different Speeds?

Have you ever wondered why your washing machine has multiple cycles? Sure, some are for heavier loads and others are for more delicate fabrics—but do they spin differently? The answer is yes! Washing machines spin at different speeds depending on the cycle. Let’s take a closer look.

Most modern washing machines have two motors, one to wash and one to spin. When the washer is in a certain cycle, it uses both motors to run the system. Depending on the type of load being washed or dried, each motor works differently. During a delicate cycle, for example, the motors will use less energy so that fragile items won’t be damaged from high-speed spinning. On a heavy-duty cycle, however, the speed will increase so that items can be thoroughly cleaned and dried within the same amount of time.

Programmable Spin Cycles

Some newer models offer programmable spin cycles, allowing you to adjust the speed of spinning manually. This can be useful if you need to adjust for different types of clothes or fabrics – like wool sweaters or silk lingerie – which require a slower spinning speed than jeans or towels. You can also use this feature if you want your clothes to come out slightly damp after spinning to reduce ironing time later on.

Understanding Load Size

It’s important to understand that your washing machine’s spin speed will also depend on how full the drum is as well as what type of fabric is inside. If you overload your washing machine with too much laundry, it won’t be able to properly spin all of it at once; instead, it may end up just tumbling around in circles without achieving any real cleaning action. Additionally, heavy items like blankets and coats should not be placed in with lighter garments such as underwear; this could cause uneven loading and damage your washer over time.

Need Some help from a Laundry Delivery Service?

Knowing what temperature to choose when doing laundry is essential to keep your clothes looking their best for longer. Always read care instructions before washing any item; if not specified, then stick with warm water for most items and reserve cold or hot only if necessary. And remember—cold water will always save energy compared to warmer temperatures! Now that you know how to use different settings on your washing machine correctly, you’ll never have to worry about accidentally ruining something in the laundry again.

Tired of dealing with laundry? Leave it to the pros at 2ULaundry! 2ULaundry is the laundry delivery service that lets you skip laundry day and delivers a fresh, clean wardrobe right to your door.

2ULaundry is a premium laundry and dry-cleaning pick-up and delivery service available in Charlotte, Atlanta, Tampa, Austin, San Antonio, and Phoenix. Learn more about 2ULaundry and sign up on our website.

Our promise to you

We will do everything we can to return your clothes to you in great shape. In the rare instance that an item goes missing or is damaged during the cleaning process, we’ll reimburse you up to the full value of the item with a $1,000 maximum per order.