Is 30 Degrees A “Cold Wash”? (when & how to use it)

In the UK a 30 degree C wash cycle is considered to be a cold wash cycle. Many modern washing machines have a 20 degree C cycle as well and this is also a cold wash.

Very old washing machines used to have cool, warm and hot wash programmes but in recent years technology has advanced and now we have so much more choice when it comes to using a washing machine to wash our clothes.

If you want to know when and how to use the 30 degree cold wash correctly, keep reading.

How Is A Cold Wash Signified On The Wash Care Label?

It’s important to always check the wash care label before washing any of your clothes. The care label will give you all of the information you need to successfully clean your clothes without causing them any damage.

Cold Wash Symbol

The symbol for a cold wash is a bucket with water and the number 30 in it. This same symbol is used for all recommended wash temperatures. The only difference is the number changes (40 for a warm wash, 60 for a hot wash and 90 for a very hot wash).

Why Do Clothes Need To Be Washed In A Cold Wash?

If your clothes have the symbol for a cold wash it’s because they need to be washed in a cold wash to;

  • Protect The Fabric
    Many fabrics can stretch, become misshapen or warp if subjected to temperatures that are too high.
  • Prevent Colour Fade
    A cold wash cycle is far less likely to cause colours to run or fade.
  • Prevent Shrinkage
    Many fabrics can shrink if exposed to high water temperatures.
  • Limit The Shedding Of Microplastics
    Many synthetic materials are made from a form of plastic. If they’re subjected to high temperatures, minute plastic particles shed from the fabric and enter our waterways causing untold damage to aquatic life. Cold washes help limit the number of these microplastics that are added to this worldwide problem.

The 30 degree wash cycle is great for washing denim to help prevent shrinkage and colour fade and synthetics to prevent damage, shrinkage and the shedding of lots of microplastics.

How To Get The Best From A 30 Degree Wash Cycle

There are many reasons for using the 30 degree wash cycle, but to get the best from it there are a few things to consider. These include;

Pretreating Stains

The cold wash isn’t going to be great at removing stains which is why it’s a good idea to pretreat stains or pre-soak stained clothes before washing at 30 degrees.

Select The Most Suitable Programme

Certain materials like wool for example will benefit from a cold wash as long as you select the wool cycle. This has been specifically designed to treat woollen clothes in such a way as to not cause them any shrinkage or other damage.

Use The Right Detergent

There have been many advances in recent years by detergent manufacturers to develop detergents designed to wash clothes in cold water. Whenever you use the 30 degree cycle, you should use a detergent specifically designed for that purpose.

This will almost certainly be a liquid detergent as powders tend to not dissolve as well in cold water.

Washing Machine

Will A 30 Degree Wash Kill Bacteria?

There are many bacteria that can survive a 30 degree wash cycle. However, you can combat this by using a laundry sanitiser as well as a decent detergent.

With that said, there are a few things you should bear in mind. Which are;

  • You Should Perform A Hot Service Wash Once A Month
    To prevent any build up of germs, bacteria, mould or detergent, you should run a 90 degree service wash once a month. 
  • Wash The Clothes Of An Ill Person Separately
    If a family member is ill it makes sense to wash their clothes separately and use a hotter wash cycle to kill any germs.
  • Always Use A Laundry Sanitiser
    By always adding a laundry sanitiser to your cold washes, you will help to remove germs and bacteria.

What Are The Benefits Of Using A 30 Degree C Wash Cycle?

The main benefits of using a 30 degree wash cycle include;

  • It’s Gentler On Your Clothes
    Colder wash cycles are better for protecting the integral structure of the fabrics. Preventing damage through stretching, shrinking and also helps prevent creasing.
  • Saves Energy
    The 30 degree wash cycle uses less electricity as the water doesn’t need to be heated so high. Compared to a 60 degree wash cycle, a 30 degree cycle uses up to 60% less energy.
  • Saves Money
    The reduction in electricity usage means it costs less to run a 30 degree wash cycle.
  • Environmentally Friendly
    The 30 degree wash cycle uses less electricity which is better for the environment. Added to which the reduction in microplastic shedding reduces the environmental impact too. Plus, your clothes will last longer using a 30 degree wash cycle.

What Are The Disadvantages Of A 30 Degree C Wash Cycle?

The main disadvantages of using a 30 degree wash cycle include;

  • Not Good Enough To Remove Ingrained Dirt & Stains
    The 30 degree wash cycle will not be hot enough to remove ingrained dirt from clothes. The clothes will need pretreatment or pre-soaking before being washed at 30 degrees.
  • Doesn’t Kill All Germs & Bacteria
    There are many germs and bacteria that can survive at 30 degrees C. To successfully remove all germs and bacteria you will need to use a laundry sanitiser as well as a specially formulated cold wash detergent.
  • Not Designed For Heavily Soiled Clothes
    Clothes that are literally caked in mud or dirt will not become physically or hygienically clean at 30 degrees.
  • No Good For Towels Or Bedding
    A 30 degree wash cycle is not hot enough to clean towels or bedding. It is recommended that bedding and coloured towels are washed at 40 degrees and white towels should be washed at 60 degrees.

Can You Wash All Clothes At 30 Degrees?

clothes in washing machine

There is nothing to prevent you from washing all of your clothes at 30 degrees. In fact, in a recent study by the University of Leeds they concluded that washing clothes at 25 degrees for 30 minutes resulted in the clothes shedding less microfibres and retaining their colour.

However, that test case didn’t account for heavily soiled garments which would definitely need a hotter wash cycle to remove all of the stains. Unless the clothes were pre-soaked or pretreated first.

Towels and bedding also need a higher temperature to ensure they are hygienically clean.

Then there’s the bacterial levels in the actual washing machine. As well as the mould spores and detergent build up. All of which need a hot wash cycle of 90 degrees to eliminate.

So, although you can use a 30 degree wash for many of your clothes and much of your laundry, it’s not advisable to only use the 30 degree wash cycle.

SEE ALSO: What Does Eco Cycle Mean On A Washing Machine?

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a 30 degree wash warm or cold?

A 30 degree wash cycle is considered to be a cold wash cycle.

Is 30 degrees a cold wash in the UK?

In the UK a cold wash is considered to be a 30 degree wash cycle. Many modern machines also include a 20 degree wash cycle which is even cooler than a 30 degree cycle. But if your clothes specify a cold wash, it generally is referring to a 30 degree wash cycle.

Is it OK to wash towels at 30 degrees?

It is OK to wash towels at 30 degrees as long as you don’t want to remove germs and bacteria. These can only be removed using higher temperatures produced in a 40 or 60 degree wash cycle.

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