What Temperature Is A Cold Wash? (here’s what you need to know)

It’s great if you have items of clothing that need a cold wash because using a cold wash saves on energy. But with so many programmes on the washing machine, what is a cold wash? The cold wash is usually the 30 degree wash cycle on a washing machine.

Some modern machines have a 20 degree wash cycle which is colder still. But, generally when clothes manufacturers refer to cold washes they’re talking about 30 degree wash cycles.

What Is The Symbol For A Cold Wash On Clothes?

You should always check the wash care label in your clothes before washing them to ensure they don’t get damaged in the wash. 

Cold Wash Symbol

If you see a bucket with water and the number 30 this signifies that the item should be washed at 30 degrees.

The same symbol with 40 indicates a warm wash at 40 degrees and the same symbol with 60 shows that the garment can be washed in a hot wash at 60 degrees. Some items may have that same symbol with a 90 in it which indicates that the item can be washed in an extremely hot wash at 90 degrees.

What Clothes Should Be Washed Using A Cold Wash Cycle?

The cold wash cycle is suitable for many types of clothes including;

  • Coloured Clothes
    Dark and coloured clothes should be washed in a cold wash to prevent the colours from running or fading.
  • Denim Clothes
    Denim should be washed infrequently and always at low temperatures to prevent shrinkage.
  • Delicates
    Delicate materials like wool, acrylic and silk should all be washed at low temperatures to prevent damage.
  • Synthetics
    Synthetic materials should be washed at low temperatures to prevent damage and minimise the shedding of microplastics which are an environmental pollutant.

What Clothes Should Not Be Washed In A Cold Wash?

There are several types of clothes that should not be washed in a cold wash which include;

  • Towels
    To remove all of the germs and bacteria in towels they need a hotter wash cycle. Coloured towels should be washed at 40 degrees and white towels should be washed at 60 degrees.
  • Underwear
    As underwear is in constant contact with the skin, it needs a hotter wash cycle to remove any germs and bacteria.
  • Baby Clothes
    Baby clothes often get covered in vomit and other bodily fluids. To remove these and any associated germs and bacteria, you will need a higher temperature wash cycle.
  • Bedding
    As we sleep, we shed skin and sweat which can lead to bacteria forming. To successfully remove this bacteria you will need a hotter wash cycle.
  • Pet Bedding
    Pet bedding can harbour many germs, bacteria and insects. Fleas, mites and their larvae can only be removed using a hot wash cycle.

What Are The Benefits Of Using A Cold Wash Cycle?

The main benefits of using a cold wash cycle include;

  • Energy Saving
    Using a cold wash cycle means it needs less energy to heat the water. Which saves on electricity.
  • Reduces Costs
    By not heating up the water and using less electricity, the cold wash cycle saves you money on energy bills.
  • Better For The Environment
    Less energy usage and the reduction in the amount of microplastics shed from synthetic clothes lowers the impact on the environment.
  • Better For The Clothes
    Washing your clothes on a cold wash will prevent colour fade, wear and tear and make the clothes last longer.

What Are The Disadvantages Of A Cold Wash Cycle?

The main disadvantages of a cold wash cycle include;

  • Doesn’t Remove All Stains
    A cold wash will not remove any ingrained stains unless they are pretreated or pre-soaked first.
  • Doesn’t Clean Towels
    To clean towels properly you will need to wash them using at least a 40 degree wash cycle (60 degrees for white towels).
  • Doesn’t Remove All Germs & Bacteria
    Many germs and bacteria thrive at 30 degrees which means a cold wash cycle isn’t sufficient to remove them. You will either need a hot wash (60 degrees) or the addition of a laundry sanitiser to ensure bacteria is removed on a cold wash.
  • No Good For Cleaning Heavily Soiled Items
    Heavily soiled garments need hotter temperatures to ensure the removal of all ingrained dirt and germs.
A person putting laundry detergent into a washing machine

How To Make The Most Of A Cold Wash Cycle

There are several benefits to using a cold wash cycle. To make the most of it you should;

Use The Correct Detergent

All detergent manufacturers now make detergents specifically designed for use in cold washes. These liquid or pod detergents are designed to work well at low temperatures.

Pretreat Stubborn Stains

A cold wash is never going to remove stubborn stains. These will need a pretreatment or pre-soaking to help loosen up the dirt. Before washing in a cold wash.

Always Use The Appropriate Programme

Materials like delicates and wool are able to be washed in a cold wash as long as the correct wash programme is selected to prevent damage to the material.

Should You Wash All Clothes In A Cold Wash?

It is possible to wash all of your clothes in a cold wash cycle and in many ways your clothes will benefit. They’ll last longer, remain a vibrant colour and shed less microfibres.

The problem is not all clothes will get clean in a cold water wash. Plus many germs and bacteria will survive a cold water wash. Towels and bedding need a hotter wash cycle to ensure they are hygienically clean and free from bacteria.

Plus your machine is likely to build up mould, mildew, bacteria and detergent if it doesn’t have a hot wash once a month. A 90 degree service wash should be performed every month to ensure the machine is bacteria free.

This means that many of your clothes will become clean using a cold water wash, but not all of them. To ensure your clothes receive the correct laundry treatment you should always consult the wash care label.

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

Frequently Asked Questions

Is 30C a cold wash?

There are some washing machines that have a 20 degree C cycle but generally when referring to a cold wash, it is widely accepted that it is a 30 degree cycle.

Is 30c a warm or cold wash?

A 30 degree C wash is considered to be a cold wash. Many modern machines have a 20 degree wash cycle which is even colder, but generally a 30 degree C wash is considered a cold wash.

Is it OK to wash everything at 30?

It is OK to wash many garments at 30 degrees but towels, bedding and underwear as well as items that are heavily soiled will need a hotter wash cycle.

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