Cold Fill Washing Machines Explained (pros vs cons)

We all hear about carbon footprints and carbon neutral more and more nowadays. But what does that have to do with washing machines? In the interest of energy efficiency and to meet rigorous regulations introduced by the EU, washing machine manufacturers have developed machines which operate using cooler temperatures. 

As a result of this, the cold fill only washing machine was born. But are cold fill washing machines better and more energy efficient? These are just some of the questions we’ll answer in this article. 

What Does Cold Fill Mean?

The water that enters your washing machine is fed from your home’s water supply. Go back a few years and your washing machine would have had two inlet hoses, one hot and one cold. What used to happen was the wash cycle was fed from the hot water supply and the rinse cycles were fed by the cold water supply.

Then manufacturers developed wash programs which used cooler temperatures to wash your clothes. This led to the hot feed becoming unnecessary and the removal of the hot inlet pipe altogether. This means that all new washing machines are cold fill only.

To put it simply, cold fill washing machines are filled using only the cold water supply.

Hot Washes

If you decide to do a hot wash on a modern machine, the cold water is heated within the washing machine and doesn’t rely on your home’s hot water supply. In all fairness, the hot water supply to older washing machines wasn’t always very hot anyway.

This was because of the distance from the heat source (boiler) the washing machine was sited. The water which could very well have started its journey hot, would have cooled considerably by the time it reached the washing machine.

New Detergents

With the advent of new biological detergents which are enzyme rich and can clean laundry just as well at cooler temperatures, the need for a hot feed was gone. Or so we all thought… It turns out that washing machines need at least one hot wash per month to help to kill bacteria, loosen and remove detergent build ups and prevent washing machines from breeding germs, mould and mildew.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Cold Fill Only Washing Machines?

As with any subject, there are reasons for and against everything. So let’s look at the pros and cons of just using cold water in our washing machines.

The Pros Of Cold Fill Washing Machines

The benefits of just using cold water in our washing machines are as follows;

  • Saves Money
    By eliminating the hot feed from washing machines it is estimated that between 75 to 90% of the energy used to wash clothes is saved. That’s a large chunk of your energy bill on every wash which could soon account for a high proportion of your heating budget.
  • Gentler On Some Materials
    Delicate fabrics and coloured materials actually do better when washed at cooler temperatures. Using water at cooler temperatures is also less likely to cause certain materials to shrink or fade.
  • Effective Stain Removal
    Cold water washes can successfully remove many stains from your clothing including grass, blood, makeup and sweat.
  • Reduces Wrinkles
    Washing clothes in cold water is proven to reduce wrinkling which saves on ironing too.

The Cons Of Cold Fill Washing Machines

There are some disadvantages to only using cold water in our washing machines. They include;

  • Synthetic Materials Wash Better In Warm Water
    Some synthetic materials like nylon, polyester, rayon and spandex are easier to wash properly in warmer water.
  • Cold Water Doesn’t Sanitise
    Nothing removes germs like a boil wash. Especially if you have to wash the bedding of a sick family member.
  • Cold Water Can Be Too Cold
    At certain times of the year, in certain parts of the country, water from the mains supply is just too cold. Which could mean that detergents might not perform as they should. In these areas it could be necessary to wash clothes using warm or hot water.
  • Cycles Take Longer
    Wash programs or cycles can take far longer with cold fill only machines. This is because to wash effectively the garments need to rub together more and also, using less water means rinse cycles take longer as well.
  • Hot Wash Programs Take Even Longer
    As cold fill only washing machines use only cold water, the machine will take longer to perform a hot wash. This is because the water needs to heat up in the machine before the wash cycle can commence.

Which Is Better: Cold Fill Or Hot Fill Washing Machines?

Washing Machine

As hot fill machines are not being manufactured any more, this question is purely academic. However, there are arguments for both systems; it all depends on the way you look at things.

From an environmental viewpoint, it would appear that using cold fill only machines is better for the environment. But on closer inspection this could be questioned because enzyme rich detergents can cause allergic reactions in some people. Also not all germs can be eradicated at low temperatures and heating cold water in the washing machine takes energy and will cost more to run.

The Bottom Line

If you have access to an alternative energy supply like solar or wind and/or you use the hot wash program frequently on your washing machine, then a hot fill machine would probably suit you best.

However, if you only use cool wash programs and like to use biological detergents then a cold fill washing machine would probably suit you better.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does cold wash mean on a washing machine?

Cold wash on a washing machine means the water used to wash the laundry is taken from the cold water supply and is not subjected to any heat at all.

Can I run my washing machine on cold water only?

Modern washing machines are designed to only run on cold water. However, if your washing machine has two inlet hoses attached, one blue and one red, it should be run using both hot and cold water. 

Does a cold fill washing machine heat the water?

A cold fill washing machine does heat the water for warm and hot wash programs. However, if your washing machine is connected to both the hot and cold water supply, it will rely on your home’s hot water supply to heat the water.

Do you wash towels in hot or cold water?

You generally wash towels in the hottest water suitable for the fabric the towel is made from (check the care label). Towels need a hot wash to remove bacteria and germs and to keep them soft and fluffy.

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