What Is the Right Washing Machine Temperature for Your Laundry?

Incorrect temperature settings can leave odor-causing bacteria and cause clothes to wear out more quickly.

Does washing machine temperature really matter?

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

Is it the same for any 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!

The Folde | Laundromat | Washing Machine Temperature

Washing Machine Temperature

What’s the Big Difference?

Most washing machines have a hot water setting of 130 degrees and a steam setting is even higher. Warm water settings range from 90 to 110 degrees, while cold water is typically between 60 and 80 degrees. For comparison, 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. Leah Groth created these images below to help you out!

Washing Machine Temperatures | The Folde | Laundry Service
Washing Machine Temperatures | The Folde | Laundry Service

Washing Machine Temperature

Hot or Cold Washing Machine Temperature? What Is Best?

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 care labels on each new piece. This should tell you the best water temperature as well as the recommended washing cycle. At The Folde, we train our inbound and outbound loaders around the thought process 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 The Folde, we teach our inbound loaders 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 is 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, no you are making sure nothing in the warmer washing machine temperature actually required 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.

Washing Machine Temperature

Need Some Help Washing Your Bedding?

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

The Folde | Laundromat | Washing Machine Temperature