Is 40 Degrees A “Cold Wash”? (when & how to use it)

The short answer is no, a 40 degree wash cycle is not a cold wash. It is generally considered as a warm wash cycle. 

A cold wash is considered to be a 20 degree or 30 degree wash cycle. With a 60 or 90 degree wash cycle considered to be a hot wash cycle.

If you want to know how and when to use the 40 degree wash cycle, keep reading.

When Should You Use The 40 Degree Wash Cycle?

Go back a few years and washing machines had a regular wash cycle which was around 40 degrees or a hot wash which would have been around 60 to 90 degrees. Nowadays there is much more choice when it comes to wash programmes.

20 or 30 is offered as a cold wash, 40 is a warm wash, 60 is a hot wash and 90 is a very hot wash. And that doesn’t include wash cycles for delicates, woollens, hand wash, synthetics, cottons, etc.

So when should the 40 degree wash cycle be used?

As a general rule, the cold wash is OK for clothes that are only slightly dirty or just need to be refreshed. Hot washes are best for cleaning extremely dirty robust fabrics like cotton. The 40 degree cycle is best for the rest.


What Are The Benefits Of A 40 Degree Wash Cycle?

The main benefits of the 40 degree wash cycle include;

  • Hot Enough To Remove Many Stains & Bacteria
    40 Degrees is hot enough to deal with stains caused by milk or milk products and even blood. It will also kill some bacteria.
  • Not So Hot To Damage Certain Fabrics
    Fabrics like wool and silk need to be washed in relatively hot water to ensure they are clean. But not so hot that they become damaged or shrink. 40 degrees is that happy medium between a cool wash and a hot wash. Giving delicate items the best of both worlds.
  • More Energy Efficient Than A 60 Degree Wash
    Washing clothes at 40 degrees means a saving of up to 77% on energy compared to washing the same clothes at 60 degrees.
  • Gentler On Many Fabrics
  • A 60 degree wash can be too harsh for many fabrics and cause them to shrink or become damaged. This is true of many natural fibres like wool and some cottons. And it’s also true of some synthetics too.

What Are the Disadvantages Of A 40 Degree Wash Cycle?

The main disadvantages of using a 40 degree wash cycle include;

  • Doesn’t Kill All Germs & Bacteria
    There are many bacteria and germs that can withstand a 40 degree wash cycle. To effectively remove germs and bacteria you’ll need to use a laundry sanitiser in with a 40 degree wash cycle
  • Doesn’t remove Stubborn Stains
    Oil based stains are likely to remain on clothes washed at 40 degrees. To remove these types of stains effectively, you will need to wash the clothes at 60 degrees. 
  • Not As Energy Efficient
    Washing clothes at 40 degrees is not as energy efficient as washing clothes at 20 or 30 degrees as it uses more electricity.
  • Takes Longer Than Some 30 & 20 degree Cycles
    In many cases, the 40 degree wash cycle is longer than the 20 or even the 30 degree wash cycles.
  • Detergent Build Up
    Washing clothes at 40 degrees can leave a residue of detergent in the machine which will build up over time.

It’s important to note that some of the disadvantages listed above can be solved if you use the correct detergent coupled with a laundry sanitiser.

You should always check the wash care label in your clothes before washing them to ensure you wash them using the best temperature to get them physically and hygienically clean.

Always check the wash care labels

Should You Always Use A 40 Degree Wash Cycle?

Given how effective a 40 degree wash cycle can be, it can be tempting to always use this cycle. However, as technology advances and detergent companies develop more effective detergents that can be used at lower temperatures, it is possible to get many clothes just as clean at 30 degrees.

Using a 30 degree wash cycle is more environmentally friendly, gentler on your laundry and more cost effective as well.

With that said, you will need to run a hot wash occasionally to remove any detergent residue and mould or mildew from the washing machine.

There is also the successful removal of allergens that could affect sufferers of allergies. Sometimes a 40 degree wash is not hot enough to remove allergens from the clothes.

SEE ALSO: Washing At 90 Degrees Celsius? (what you need to know)

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a 40 degree wash hot or cold?

A 40 degree wash cycle is considered to be a warm wash cycle, neither hot nor cold, but warm.

Is it better to wash at 30 or 40?

Washing clothes at 30 degrees saves energy and money and in many cases can get clothes thoroughly clean. However, to remove stubborn stains you will need to wash clothes at 40 degrees.

What does 40 degrees wash mean?

A 40 degree wash is a wash cycle that uses water at a temperature of 40 degrees C (104 F).

Does 40 degrees shrink clothes?

There are some fabrics that can shrink at 40 degrees, you should always check the wash care label in the clothes before washing.

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