What Temperature Is Considered A “Hot Wash”?

On washing machines a hot wash is a wash of 60 degrees C or above. When laundry day comes, most of us tend to use the same programme or setting every time. This often means our laundry doesn’t get quite as clean as we would like it to be.

In this article we look at the hot wash cycle, what it is and when it should be used. 

What Is A Hot Wash?

A 60 degree C wash on a washing machine is considered to be a hot wash. There is only one wash with a higher temperature than this which is the 90 degree C wash and that is considered to be the very hot wash.

Since 2013 all washing machines have to by law have a 20 degree cool wash setting and many also have a 30 degree wash too. This means that the temperature settings on a modern washing machine run as follows;

  • Cold Wash
    The temperatures of the cold wash often have two settings: the 20 degree C and the 30 degree C cycles. These should be used for washing delicate items and those prone to losing colour or shrinking that aren’t too heavily stained.
  • Warm Wash
    There are also two warm wash cycles which are the 40 degree C and the 50 degree C. As detergents have improved at lower temperatures, the 50 degree wash is almost obsolete so if it is suggested that a warm wash is needed it is safe to assume the intention is a 40 degrees C cycle.
  • Hot Wash
    The hot wash cycle is the 60 degree C cycle. This is great for removing ingrained stains and bacteria from clothes. However, fabrics are more likely to shrink at 60 degrees and lose their colour. 
  • Very Hot Wash
    The 90 degree wash cycle is also known as the very hot wash cycle. There are only a few fabrics that can withstand a 90 degree wash cycle. It is mainly used for doing a service wash to remove bacteria, mould & mildew spores and detergent buildup in the machine.

What Are The Pros & Cons Of A Hot Wash?


Let’s look at the reasons for and against using a hot wash.

Hot Wash Benefits 

The benefits of using a hot wash cycle include;

  • Perfect for removing many types of stains
    Some tough to remove stains like oil, grease, wine, coffee and chocolate will dissolve in a hot wash.
  • Great for the removal of bacteria
    There are many germs and bacteria that can withstand a warm wash. Many of these will be eradicated in a hot wash.
  • Perfect for washing bedding & towels
    As bedding and towels come into direct contact with our skin, they’re likely to pick up many germs and bacteria. The hot wash will remove many of these.

Hot Wash Disadvantages

The main disadvantages of using a hot wash include;

  • Can damage certain fabrics
    There are certain materials that should never be subjected to the temperature of a hot wash. You should always check the wash care label before washing any clothes.
  • Causes colours to run
    The heat of the water relaxes the fibres of the fabric which can cause certain fabrics to release dye.
  • Causes wrinkles
    There are some fabrics that will wrinkle if exposed to temperatures as high as 60 degrees C. You should always check the wash care label before using a hot wash.
  • Bakes some stains in
    Some stains like blood and milk based stains that will actually get cooked into the fabric at 60 degrees. These types of stains can only be removed at lower temperatures.
  • Uses more electricity
    Washing machines use most power when heating the water. A 60 degree C wash cycle uses significantly more electricity than a 40 or 30 degree cycle.
  • Less environmentally friendly
    Using more electricity causes more harm to the environment. A 20 degree wash cycle uses far less electricity and is therefore better for the environment.
  • Takes longer
    The 60 degree wash cycle is one of the longest cycles on a washing machine and can take 3 hours or more.

Why Use A Hot Wash?

60 Degree Wash Cycle

Washing clothes at 60 degrees C for 10 minutes is enough to cause thermal disinfection. This is the technical term for removing germs and bacteria. 

If, for example, you have a family member who is ill, to ensure all bacteria, germs and viruses are removed, you’ll need to wash their clothes using a hot wash.

The hot wash is also great for removing those ingrained stains which lower temperature washes just can’t cope with.

What Should You Wash On A Hot Wash?

There are many items that would benefit from being washed in a hot wash these include;

  • Bedding
  • Towels
  • The Clothes Of A Sick Person

However, there are many fabrics that would become damaged, shrink, tear or lose their colour in a hot wash. Which is why you should always consult the wash care label before using a hot wash.

Understanding the Wash Care Label

Manufacturers use the wash care label to ensure you get the most from the items and to make sure they are washed at the correct temperature without causing any damage.

You will see a symbol that looks like a bucket full of water with a number in it. That number signifies the highest temperature that particular item can be washed at. For instance, a 30 indicates the item can be washed at 30 degrees C and so on.

If the symbol has a hand in the bucket it indicates that the item should be hand washed only.

Always check the wash care labels

Should I Use A Hot Wash All The Time?

Using a hot wash all the time would be great for removing stains and bacteria but it’s not practical. This is because many fabrics shrink at high temperatures and hot water can also lead to colours running and some fabrics becoming wrinkled.

Added to which, a hot wash takes a long time and uses extra electricity which means it costs more to run and is not good for the environment. Since 2013 when the 20 degree wash cycle was added to washing machines, better detergents have been developed that work well at lower temperatures.

Using these detergents specifically designed for cool washes as well as a decent laundry sanitiser will ensure that the majority of your clothes will become clean and germ free at lower temperatures.

That means you will only need to use the hot wash for a few items and not all of the time.

SEE ALSO: What Temperature Is Considered A “Warm Wash”?

Frequently Asked Questions

What temperature counts as a hot wash?

A wash cycle with a temperature of 60 degrees C is a hot wash. A 90 degree C wash cycle is a very hot wash.

Is 40 degrees a hot wash?

A 40 degree C wash is a warm wash, a hot wash has a temperature of 60 degrees C.

Is 60 degrees a hot wash in the UK?

A 60 degree C wash is considered to be a hot wash in the UK.

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