Often, different people will tell you different things about doing the laundry – until something that should be simple begins to appear horribly complicated. One of the main things which can get complicated is what temperature to wash clothes, it can seem there are so many factors to consider, and different opinions around. At Persil, we want to make doing the laundry simple. We want it to be cost-effective and conscious of the environment, too.
With this in mind, we’ve put together this guide to help you organise your weekly loads of washing, bust cold washing myths and find out the right temperature to wash different types of clothes.
What are the benefits of washing cold?
Firstly we want to debunk some common myths about cold washing!
Your washing machine will have the option to wash at different temperatures, which can be as low as 20°C, but most machines set their cold water settings on 30°C. Many washing machines have quick wash options, some as quick as 60 minutes. Many people avoid selecting the cold or quick wash cycle on their washing machine, either out of habit or because they’re worried their garments won’t come out clean.
However, there are many benefits of choosing a wash temperature of 30 degrees. These include:
Saving energy and being more cost-effective – By washing at 30 degrees, you can save up to 60% energy* and help reduce your household bills.
Helping your clothes stay vibrant and last longer - Washing with a warm water temperature − on cycles at 40°C or higher – is more suitable for heavy soiling, but can come with a few downsides such as colours fading and shrinking fabrics. Washing at 30 degrees can help keep your colours vibrant an minimise shrinking.
While this saving on energy and money is huge, it is unlikely that you will notice a difference in cleaning power with Persil liquids, which are effective at removing stains in quick and cold washes. It’s a win win.
What is the right temperature to wash clothes and towels?
The golden rule, before you start any load of laundry, is to check the care labels on all your clothes. This will give you an idea of the absolute maximum temperature you can wash your garments, and help you avoid disaster if you haven’t correctly identified the fabric on sight.
Here are some general guidelines to help:
Everyday lightly soiled clothes – for most garments you’ve worn in everyday life which simply need a refresh, it’s not necessary to wash at high temperatures or for longer than 60 minutes. We would recommend a cold wash at 30 degrees or lower, to keep your clothes clean and fresh, while caring for your clothes too. Using a washing detergent which is effective in quick or cold washes, like Persil liquids, would be suitable.
The same goes for jeans. As long as your jeans aren’t truly filthy, cleaning denim at a cold temperature (washing at 30 degrees or lower), and for as little time as possible, will help them last longer and look better.
Bright and dark colours prefer quick and cold washes. Higher temperatures encourage the loss of dye and fade black and bright clothes by opening up the fibres, so a cold wash is your best bet. Washing your garments on 30°C temperatures will help to protect colours from running. For your brights and darks we specifically recommend using Persil Colour Protect liquid, which removes stains at 30 degrees and is specifically designed to keep your colours vibrant.
Woollen clothes usually need a low temperature, gentle cycle, and mild detergent - Technically, wool doesn’t shrink in a hot wash; it ‘felts’. Like most animal hair, individual wool strands have cuticle scales. Once the sheep are shorn, the process of turning the raw wool into a jumper or cardigan lifts these scales, creating tiny ridges on the fibres that leave them vulnerable to snagging and becoming tangled with each other, fusing. Heat and agitation exacerbate the problem, causing your woollen clothes to shrink in a hot wash as the fibres cling tighter together. It’s best to think of wool as you would your own hair: a gentle, cool wash will keep it at its best. Try Persil Silk and Wool for best results.
Clothes with tough stains: think mud and pasta sauce! - if your garments have stains such as mud or pasta sauce you still don’t need to immediately raise the temperature of your wash! In fact, Persil liquids removes these tough stains even at 30 degrees. If your clothes are heavily soiled, it may sometimes be necessary to wash at warmer temperatures for effective results, or if you have extremely stubborn stains, we recommend using a bleach containing powder such as Persil Bio.
Bedding and towels - We spend a lot of time in contact with towels and sheets, so they tend to become heavily soiled quite quickly. Towels and sheets, along with any clothes that an ill person has been wearing, should be washed at a fairly warm temperature to kill bacteria and potential mould. A good temperature for washing towels and sheets is 40 degrees, but a 60 degree wash will be better at killing germs. Changing your sheets and towels once a week can help to keep them fresh and clean**.
Use our laundry tips section for guidelines on different fabrics. We have a wealth of information on washing different stains, and on caring for different fabrics here on the Persil site. Our page on interpreting wash care symbols is a great place to start.
And finally, once you know which temperature you need to use, just follow these steps:
Sort any delicates (wool, silk, or embellished or embroidered fabrics) into a pile for special handling. Follow manufacturers’ instructions for the right cycle to choose, and use a detergent such as Persil liquids. You can use a specialist detergent like Persil Silk & Wool for delicates.
Divide the remaining clothes into piles of similar colours and according to how heavily soiled they are.
Pre-treat and wash stained or heavily soiled garments separately from other garments, making sure to follow the advice on the care label.
Choose your temperature. Remember, high temperatures aren’t always necessary: washing at 30 degrees is generally very effective and saves up to 60% energy*. Persil liquids also removes tough stains first time in a quick or cold wash, so there’s often no need to go higher than 40 degrees. Washing at 30 degrees or on a quick wash cycle for 60 minutes is effective and much better for the environment, and costs less per cycle in terms of energy than a hotter wash.
*From 60⁰C cotton cycle to 30⁰C eco.