Why You Should Stop Doing Laundry in Hot Water

A man squats over a basket of laundry in front of a washing machine.

Many are looking for ways to save money these days, and if you’re one of them, you might not expect one of the methods to be in your laundry room. But if you’re still washing clothes in hot water, you could accidentally be costing yourself more money.

Washing clothes in hot water is no longer necessary thanks to advancements in detergents and washing machines.

If you always heard to wash towels, sheets, athletic wear, or other heavily soiled items in hot water, there’s a good chance it comes from a parent or grandparent. Hot water was considered better at cleaning for a long time, and there’s still some truth there. Hot water molecules get stains and dirt out quicker than cold because they move faster during the washing process, and it’s also great at killing germs!

Now, though, both appliances and laundry detergent can do the same without hot water. Newer washer models are more efficient at cleaning than old-school top-loaders with built-in agitators. The newer models are high efficiency and built to have lower wash temperatures that meet the Department of Energy standards, so they have to be better cleaners.

These new high-efficiency washers also mean updates to detergents. Remember how we mentioned hot water molecules moving faster and thus being better at cleaning? Well, Consumer Reports spoke with Tracey Long, communications manager for P&G‘s fabric care products in North America, who explained that modern detergents have become a mix of surfactants and enzymes that work together in cold water for equivalent performance.

So is there any time you should use hot water? If you, a family member, or a roommate have been ill, that’s the time to flip that cycle to hot. Otherwise, cold and warm washes should be just fine, and thanks to no longer needing to heat water, you’ll save on energy costs to boot!

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