Modern washing machines have a range of temperatures to choose from, including hot, warm, and cold options. Since 2013, all washings machines in the UK must feature a 20°C wash, which still washes clothes effectively. Some models will also offer a boil wash at 95°C, although the majority will only wash at 90°C.
When you’re buying a washing machine, think about your lifestyle and the contents of your wardrobe to help you decide which temperature settings you’ll use the most.
WHY IS TEMPERATURE IMPORTANT?
Washing clothes at the right temperature is really important. A higher temperature kills germs, but the heat can damage certain types of fabric. Low temperatures save electricity, but may not get your clothes as clean.
The wash temperature not only affects the lifespan of your clothes, but also the performance of the detergent and level of creasing.
Following clothing label instructions is the best way to ensure that your items retain their colour, shape, and condition for as long as possible.
Higher temperatures kill germs, but the heat can damage certain types of fabric.
WHEN TO USE HOT WATER
Do you have a baby at home, an elderly relative, or a family member who has allergies? If so, it’s worth buying a washing machine that’s capable of cleaning your clothes at high temperatures.
Hot water settings tend to work best for white clothing that’s made from hard-wearing materials such as cotton. Items like bedding and towels should also be washed at high temperatures so that they remain hygienic. This is because heat is one of the best ways to kill germs.
The majority of washing machines offer hot cycles for cottons, with a temperature range of up to 90°C. A few brands even have more specialised high temperature programmes.
Some Bosch models have an Allergy+ programme. This prolongs the maximum wash temperature during the cycle to reduce the number of allergens that irritate sensitive skin. Hotpoint also have an Anti-Allergy programme, which heats the water to 60° to remove dust mites and pollen.
Selected Siemens models have a Hygiene cycle to ensure items like baby clothes and bedding are cleaned hygienically.
• Produces better overall cleaning results
• Dissolves detergent more effectively
• Removes allergens from clothing
• Sanitises and removes germs effectively
• Can cause shrinking, fading and wrinkling
• Can set some types of stains
• Not as energy efficient
WHEN TO USE WARM WATER
Do you wear a lot of dark items or have clothing made from man-made fabrics? If this is the case, you’re likely to want a washing machine that has a selection of warm temperature settings to keep your clothes looking their best.
Warm temperatures are the best choice for clothing items such as denim jeans and moderately soiled items. Most washing machine models tend to offer 30°, 40°, or 60° cycles, which are great all-rounders.
Bosch has an Easy Care programme, which uses a range of temperatures designed for synthetic fabrics which absorb minimal moisture and dirt. Other machines may have cycles specifically for jeans or dark colours.
• More energy efficient than using hot water
• Effective at dissolving powder detergents
• Great for cleaning man-made fabrics
• Can fade some colours
• Does not sanitise fabrics as effectively as
• Cannot remove some heavy soils
• Warm temperatures are the best choice
for clothing items such as denim jeans and
moderately soiled items
Some machines have cycles specifically for jeans or dark colours.
WHEN TO USE COLD WATER
Are you conscious of the environment? Do you like to keep your energy bills as low as possible?
Washing machines that have cold water cycles are great for looking after the planet as well as your pocket.
Advances in washing machines and laundry detergents mean that you can now get your clothes clean and fresh again at temperatures as low as 20 or 30°C.
Cold water cycles are perfect for brightly coloured items that are likely to bleed, lightly soiled items, woollens, and delicates.
Samsung ecobubble™ washing machines froth the detergent before the cycle starts, creating bubbles which clean your clothes quicker. This means you can wash clothes as effectively in cool water as you would in warm water while saving energy.
Zanussi also offers a Mix 20° programme, where you can wash cottons, synthetics and colours together.
• More energy efficient compared to warm
and hot cycles
• Less likely to fade and shrink clothes
• Acceptable to use for most fabrics
• Rinsing in cold water can reduce creasing
• Not as effective at removing stains
• Will not sanitise clothes
• Cold water cycles are perfect for brightly
coloured items that are likely to bleed,
lightly soiled items, woollens and delicates