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If you’re interested in making a small change to help the environment (and to save yourself money), one of the easiest things you can do is to change the temperature at which you wash your clothes. It seems insignificant, but washing your clothes at 30°C (90F) actually uses up to 40% less electricity than at 40°C (110F). In this post, we’re going to give an easy explanation of a dull topic – which temperature you should use on your washing machine 🙂
The first thing to consider: Whilst increasing the temperature does help somewhat with the removal of stains, what can have a much bigger impact is the detergent that you use. Because of this, you may find that washing with a lower temperature but a better detergent may actually be cheaper as well as more effective. A lower temperature can also extend the lifespan of your clothes. When it comes to detergent, the ones which are better with stains have more active ingredients such as enzymes. You should look at the ingredients list for this. This is often the difference the budget detergents and the more expensive ones. The one we use is by Ecover which has worked well for us in combination with their fabric softener.
When to wash at 20°C (70F)
Saves: Up to 62% over washing at 40°C (110F)
Sometimes. Washing at this temperature (also known as a “cold wash”) is rather uncommon because it has a reputation of not being able to wash your clothes effectively, when it can in fact, with modern detergents, do a great job. In one study of moderately soiled clothes, it was able to remove all average stains except for an olive oil stain. We would recommend using this temperature for lightly soiled clothing and for brightly coloured clothing that may bleed.
When to wash at 30°C (90F)
Saves: Up to 40% over washing at 40°C (110F)
Most of the time! This should be your standard washing temperature for most occasions. With a good detergent, you should be able to clean almost everything at this temperature these days. It can also reduce the risk of your clothes shrinking.
When to wash at 40°C (110F)
This is the most common temperature to wash at. It is often referred to as a “warm wash”. If you’re washing blended fabrics such as wool mixes or polyester blends, this can improve the cleaning results. This is the only real reason to increase the temperature. However, over time it can damage your softer fabrics. Despite it being the most popular, there is not a significant advantage of using this over 30°C (90F).
When to wash at 60°C (130F)
This temperature does increase the quality of the wash but comes with a cost: It uses much more energy. It is often called a “hot wash”. The benefit is that it is much more effective at killing bacteria and removing tough stains. For this reason, you should wash your towels, bedding and underwear at this temperature. Wash the rest at a lower temperature.
In conclusion, it is possible to clean your clothes whilst helping your bank balance and the environment. Studies have shown that decreasing your standard washing machine temperature from 40°C (110F) to 30°C (90F) can save you up to $17/£13/€14 per year with almost no effort. We encourage you to reduce the temperature on your next wash to see the results for yourself 🙂
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