Water temperature, laundry

It is blistering cold outside, and my incoming water is correspondingly much colder than usual (not worried about it freezing pipes, though, we’ve had this weather before and no pipe damage). But I was doing laundry this morning and thought I’d run some warm water in with the cold, just because the incoming water was so darn cold. Doing that, the total probably was not any warmer than the incoming tapwater in the summer. Am I just wasting money and electricity, or is there some temperature above freezing that will be too cold to allow my clothes to get clean?

We wash all our laundry at home in cold water year round. I have not noticed any difference between winter clean and summer clean.

I’m on my own well, and drink plenty of water. As you can imagine the water gets cold here in Ottawa. I would guess that the winter water is probably 40F with the summer water being 55F. That’s just a guess, but probably accurate.

Hot water is only needed on some very tough stains and on certain fabrics that can withstand it.

Other than that, have fun with the cold water.

Tough stains are sometimes oil based. Cold water will keep the oil firm and set, whereas hot water will soften and loosen it, so that detergents can free it and keep it from settling back on fabrics. Very few garments enter the washing machine in need of hot water. Sure, in some households, in might be a lot of the garments, but I am sure most of us don’t need to run hot water to break up oil stains (or tar, gum, etc). You can see how hot water would help here.

So, cold water at 45 or cold water at 35: It’s just cold water.

I put my washer up to the warm setting in the winter months when I also notice a big change in incoming water temperature. The warm setting bring the water up to maybe 70-80 F. I have not done any kind of rigorous study on this, but my impression is that this helps the laundry come out cleaner, especially in regards to things that may have dripped on clothes. (Those things probably all have grease or oil of some sort, so that kind of makes sense).

The extra cost for this appears to be smaller than the normal fluctuations in my monthly gas bill. It can’t be more than $3/month, or I’d have noticed it.

Bleaches, whether oxygen or chlorine based, are far slower to react with stains in cold vs hot water. Of course, most of the time bleach is not needed in order to get clothes clean.

I wash everything in cold, we’re indoor/office worker types and things just don’t get that dirty. Separating colors + not overloading the machine + cold water = clean laundry. Dishtowels and kitchen sponges get their own little hot-water-with-a-drop-of-bleach wash, I have dozens of them and save them in a basket to wash separately once a week. I just wish there was a way to get rid of oil and grease stains, never have any luck no matter what I do.

Thanks, all. Seems like there is only a minor difference, according to concensus, if any. I would think that soaps would have different activity in different temperatures, but maybe not enough to make a difference. Also, I wonder if soaps might rinse out better in warmer water.

I wash everything in cold except for towels, which are washed together and in warm water as they’ve sat around for while, and whites, which include underwear, in hot water and bleach to remove and sanitize.