Pros and Cons of Washing Your Clothes in Hot Water

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April 8, 2016

Pros and Cons of Washing Your Clothes in Hot Water

Pros and Cons of Washing Your Clothes in Hot Water

Ah, the washing machine. Arguably one of the great inventions of our era, this device has freed up hours of time and energy. These days, it’s incredibly easy to use, too. Throw in your clothing, add some detergent, and voila: your fabrics are clean!

For many years, it’s been accepted that washing clothes in hot water is the way to go. But is it really? Or is all that heat doing your favorite shirt more harm than good?

Today, we’re breaking down the pros and cons of the hot-water debate:

Pro: Hot Water Gets the Job Done

Tossing your clothing into hot water (and adding a dash of detergent) will take out most stains—including those unfortunate sweat stains—or that dollop of ketchup your child dripped on himself during hamburger night.

Hot water is also the way to go for clothes that have been lived-in—workout pants, socks, and most underwear, for starters. If you want to guarantee that your clothes will smell clean and fresh the next day, run them in hot water.

Pro: Hot Water Kills Germs

Flu bug going around your child’s school? Just got off an airplane? Hot water is the way to go. Toss the potentially infected bed linens and clothing into a hot wash and let the water do what it does best—tackle germs!

Con: Hot Water is Environmentally Unfriendly

Over the last decade or so, we’ve grown increasingly concerned about the environment. A lot of the energy used to wash a load of laundry is funneled directly into heating the water—the latest studies suggest up to a third of the energy needed to wash a load goes into producing the heat. That energy is produced via electricity, which is largely produced by fossil fuels—and when the power plant works harder to feed your laundry machines, more and more byproducts are released into the earth’s atmosphere.

Consider how much laundry you do per week. And then think about how that will spike your power bill!

Con: Hot Water Can Damage or Discolor Clothing

Next time you’re debating laundry water temperature, take into consideration what kind of clothing you’re washing. Hot water can cause bright colors to run and fade, and can shrink certain types of fabric.

Additionally, specific types of stains actually require cold water to get out—things like wine and coffee can actually set deeper into fabrics when you run them in hot water, making them impossible to get out later. For these types of stains, we recommend running them in cold water before anything else.

Study the tags on your clothing and linens and decide for yourself what sort of washing machine temperatures to use with your family’s belongings. You may well end up using a mixture of hot and cold water, rather than depending on one or the other. In the meantime, why not find out about other ways to keep your family healthy and happy by maintaining a germ-free household.

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