Ah, the washing machine. Arguably one of the great inventions of our era, this device has freed up hours of time and energy. But even now, some questions remain. Namely, is washing clothes in hot water always the way to go? Or is all that heat doing your favorite shirt more harm than good?
Today, we’re breaking down the pros and cons of the hot-water debate. Here’s how to wash clothes with the proper water temperature.
Pro: Hot Water Gets the Job Done
Hot water is the best option for clothes that have been lived-in—workout pants, socks and boxers, for starters. If you want to guarantee that your clothes will smell clean and fresh the next day, run them in hot water.
Pro: Hot Water Kills Germs
Flu bug going around your child’s school? Just got off an airplane? Washing clothes in hot water is a great defense. Toss the potentially infected bed linens and clothing into a hot wash and let the water do what it does best—tackle germs! Its a great way to treat bed bugs
Con: Hot Water is Environmentally Unfriendly
Over the last decade or so, we’ve grown increasingly concerned about the environment. A lot of the energy used to wash a load of laundry is funneled directly into heating the water—the latest studies suggest up to a third of the energy needed to wash a load goes into producing the heat. That energy is produced via electricity, which is largely produced by fossil fuels—and when the power plant works harder to feed your laundry machines, more and more byproducts are released into the earth’s atmosphere. Consider how much laundry you do per week, and then think about how that will spike your power bill and affect the environment!
Con: Hot Water Can Damage or Discolor Clothing
Next time you’re debating laundry water temperature, take into consideration what kind of clothing you’re washing. Hot water can cause bright colors to run and fade, and can shrink certain types of fabric.
Con: Hot Water Can Damage Delicate Fabrics
It’s often recommended to use cold water for delicate fabrics, such as anything made with lace, wool or silk. If you don’t hand-wash these items, consider running them through a cold wash instead.