Should I wash my clothes in cold water? We find out if this is a good solution for the perfect clean

Experts discuss the optimum climate – for effective stain removal without shortening the lifespan of your laundry

Laundry room
(Image credit: Mereway Kitchens & Bathrooms)

The thought of washing your laundry in cold water (when you're an avid hot washer) may not sound initially appealing. After all, there is something about a powerful hot wash that settles your mind, especially regarding removing stains and eliminating bacteria. 

While this method may seem slightly more unconventional, however, there are some significant benefits to washing your clothes in cold water – especially when it comes to your delicates. 

There is already some research on whether you wash whites in hot or cold water  – but lowering your temperature can complement your laundry room ideas in more ways than one. Here are the pros and cons of going cooler. 

Should I wash my clothes in cold water?

There are two ways to look at this question: sometimes, a cold water wash can be best for your clothes. However, there are other instances where it is much better avoided. 

'If you're concerned about using energy or water, washing your towels in cold water is a perfectly acceptable option. In fact, many modern washers are designed to wash efficiently in cold water,' explains home improvement expert Pulkit Damani

laundry room cabinet ideas

(Image credit: Eye for Pretty Design)

Arguably the most significant advantage of a cooler wash is its cost efficiency  – so if you're looking for how to save money at home, this could be a great starting point. 'Washing with cold water can save you money on your utility bills, and it's just as effective as washing with hot water in most cases,' the Pulkit says. 

Though, the expert warns that there are a few things to keep in mind when learning how to wash towels or clean your clothes in cold water.  

The question of whether you should wash your clothes in cold water can be controversial, not least because sometimes, cold water can set stains. So, while this can be an efficient and cost-friendly option, the process does come with a warning.

Laundry room organization with butler sink

(Image credit: Future)

'First, remember that cold water can actually set stains, so it's important to treat any stains on your towels before washing them in cold water,' Pulkit warns. Secondly, you need to ensure you use a detergent that's designed for cold water washing [such as this one from Amazon]. 

'Many laundry detergents these days are made to work well in both hot and cold water, but there are still some that work better in one temperature or the other,' the expert says. 'Lastly, don't overload your washing machine when you're washing in cold water. Overloading can prevent your towels from getting clean, no matter what temperature the water is.'

The expert adds that if you have a particularly stubborn stain, it is best to tackle wash in hot water in this instance.

What temperature is best for washing clothes?

The ideal temperature for washing clothes is between 68 and 104°F (30 and 40°C). 'This range of temperatures is effective in removing dirt and stains from clothing while also being gentle enough not to damage the fabric, says home improvement expert Pulkit Damani.

'Higher temperatures can be used for heavily soiled items but should be avoided when possible to prevent shrinking and fading,' the expert says. Meanwhile, lower temperatures are better for delicate items and can help save energy. When in doubt, check the care label on your clothing for specific washing instructions.

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.