Do Washing Machines Need A Hot Water Feed? (in the UK)

Washing machines have programmes that range from a cold (20 C) wash to a hot (90 C) wash. This would lead you to believe that you would need a hot water feed to supply the machine with hot water during a hot wash.

But almost all modern washing machines in the UK only have a cold water feed and heat the water up in the appliance. There are two ways to tell whether your washer has a hot feed and they are to check the user manual which came with your appliance or to look at the back of the machine.

If you see just one inlet hose it will almost certainly be connected to the cold supply only. If there are 2 inlet hoses, one should be connected to the hot supply and the other to the cold supply. Another good clue is the colour of the hose, the red hose is the hot water connection and the blue hose is the cold water connection.

Modern Washing Machines Typically Only Use The Cold Water Supply

If you go back 10 or 15 years, all washing machines were connected to the hot water and cold water supplies. But with the advent of energy saving appliances, it was discovered that by only heating up the water that was needed in the machine, you could save energy.

This is because there was no need to use water from your home’s heating system to wash your clothes. This is also wasteful because not all water boilers are situated near to the washing machine which often meant the water wasn’t as hot as it needed to be by the time it reached the washing machine.

However, it is cheaper to heat water in a gas boiler than by using electricity to heat it in many cases which has led to some controversy.

Cooler Wash Cycles

With that said, more and more manufacturers are introducing cooler wash cycles which don’t need hot water to get your clothes clean. Added to which it costs less to produce a washing machine which only has one inlet. There’s no need for 2 inlet valves, 2 inlet hoses etc.

In any case those machines with both hot and cold water supplies tended to only use the hot water feed on washes above 50 C anyway. As the average wash cycle is performed at 40 C this causes no problems for the householder.

Can You Still Buy Washing Machines With Hot & Cold Feeds?

Although not common, there are a few washing machines that are still made with both a hot and cold feed. However, they tend to have a poor energy rating and also tend to cost considerably more than cold feed only machines.

For instance there are several Miele washing machines that have both a hot and cold connection, and they claim you can save upwards of 65% on electricity if that water is heated by solar technology[1]. However, Miele washing machines are generally top of the range models that cost considerably more to purchase and not everyone has solar technology heating their hot water supply.

Another company here in the UK supplying washing machines with a hot water feed is Ebac[2] but they are also at the top end of the price range. 

Cost Savings Of Cold Fill Only Washing Machines

Overall, cold fill only washing machines cost less to manufacture and are more energy efficient at washing clothes. This is due to factors like there’s;

  • Only One Inlet Hose
  • Only One Inlet Valve

Plus the inlet valve is typically much smaller on a cold fill only washing machine which means it costs less to produce.

Then there’s the water temperature, on hot and cold fill washing machines the temperature was always hit and miss. This was because depending on where the water heater is in relation to the washing machine, the water temperature was never as hot as intended.

In cold fill only machines, the water is heated up inside the appliance to exactly the desired temperature for the selected programme.

The Downside To Cold Fill Only Washing Machines

It’s not all good news though, modern cold fill only washers need extra components to enable the water to reach the temperatures set by the cycle. This means the appliance will need a heating element, some form of thermostat and a more advanced control board.

More components means there’s more room for a potential breakdown and this not only means your washer is out of action, but it will cost quite a bit to get it repaired.

Also, if you regularly use the hot wash cycle on your machine, you will be likely to wear out components used to heat the cold water much quicker than with a hot fill appliance.

Two people putting clothes in a laundry basket from the washer

Can A Cold Fill Washing Machine Be Connected To A Hot Water Supply?

Whilst it is physically possible to connect a cold fill hose to a hot water supply, it’s not something we’d advise. Cold fill machines are designed to work with cold water, changing the supply to hot water could seriously damage the appliance.

The problem is the valves and other components might not be able to withstand hot water because it’s not what they were designed for. 

Plus, you could hardly select a cool or cold wash programme if your only water supply was from the hot tap.

What’s Better: Cold Fill Or Hot & Cold Fill Washing Machines?

There are many reasons why cold fill only washing machines are better. For a start, they’re more environmentally friendly because they only heat the exact amount of water needed for the wash programme that’s selected.

Then there’s the fact that any washing machine nowadays that has a hot fill as well will typically have a lower energy rating (it’s almost impossible to find a washing machine rated higher than B that isn’t cold fill).

If you really want a washing machine that has both hot and cold feeds, you’re either going to have to buy a really expensive model or buy an old second (or third) hand machine. 

Second hand appliances don’t tend to last too long in the grand scheme of things, and it will be difficult to find any replacement parts for an outdated appliance.

So overall, we would recommend buying a cold fill only washer unless money is no object.


Frequently Asked Questions

Are all washing machines cold feed only?

Not all washing machines are cold feed only, but the majority are nowadays. There are a few companies that still make hot feed washers, companies like Miele and Ebac.

Are Bosch washing machines cold fill only?

Some older Bosch washing machines have a hot water intake, but all modern Bosch washers are cold fill only.

Do washing machines need hot water in the UK?

Modern washing machines in the UK do not need a hot feed. They almost all rely on a cold feed only and the cold water is heated up in the washer as and when needed.

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