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How to wash clothes at a lower temperature

How to wash clothes at a lower temperature
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Operations - Store and Insure

Cooler laundry temperatures are better for your clothes, the environment and your bank balance

Did you know that you can save energy and money by washing your clothes at a lower temperature? That’s right, most of the time, you don’t need to wash your clothes in really hot water to get them clean. Doing your laundry in cold water is a simple appliance switch that saves energy and can help to preserve the colour and quality of your clothes.

By making your clothes last longer, you’ll be reducing your impact on the environment, as well as saving money. And of course, a lower wash temperature will reduce your energy bills, too. According to consumer guide Which, you can reduce the energy cost of your washing machine by 62% if you turn down the temperature of your washes from 40 degrees C to 20 degrees C.

Cooler temperatures and your washing machine

To get the most out of a low-temperature wash, make sure your washing machine is working efficiently.

Keep your washing machine clean. Some older appliances rely on hotter washes to prevent bacteria proliferating in the gasket and round the back of the detergent drawer. Some people swear by running the odd very hot wash from time to time – perhaps to clean sheets or towels – to keep bacteria at bay. Your washing machine may have a cleaning cycle that you can use with a specialist washing machine sanitiser. It can help to give the drum and the gasket a quick wipe after each wash to discourage bacteria, and leave the door open to air the machine.

Keep on top of washing machine services. Most appliances will benefit from regular servicing during their lifetime, and washing machines are no exception. Taking good care of appliances means that they last longer.

Choose energy-efficient appliances. When it’s time to buy a new washing machine or dryer, look for efficient models – we have an article that tells you what to look for in an energy-efficient washing machine. These appliances use less energy than standard washing machines, which can save you money on your energy bill.

Use a cold water detergent. There are now many cold water detergents on the market. These washing detergents are formulated to be more effective a lower temperatures. Liquid detergents are often better than powders at lower temperatures.

Use the energy-saving cycle. Most washing machines have an energy-saving cycle. This cycle uses less energy and water than the regular cycle.

Cooler laundry temperatures and your clothing

It’s worth paying a bit of extra attention to your laundry pile to get the most out of a wash at lower temperatures.

Check the care labels. Some fabrics should only be washed in cold water – even 30 degrees is too much. Check the care labels on your clothes to see what the manufacturer recommends.

Sort your clothes before washing them. Wash whites and lights together in one load, and colours separately. This will reduce the chances of colours bleeding onto other garments. And wash delicate clothing separately, too.

Treat stains before washing. To get the most out of a cooler wash, treat stains before washing the garment. Blot to remove as much of the stain as possible and rinse under the cold tap. Then apply a stain remover, rub in and allow to stand for five minutes before putting in a normal wash.

Run a wash only when you have a full load. Running a load of laundry with just a few items wastes energy and water. Try to wait until you have a full load before you run the washer. Having said that, don’t be tempted to overfill your machine. Washing machines work by agitating clothes and if the drum is crammed full, the clothing can’t move about. About three-quarters full is best.

Want more tips for saving money on your domestic chores?

We have some advice to help you save cash at home. For example, here are our tips for cutting tumble dryer use. And this article has advice for making your fridge more efficient. And did you know about this tiny hack that can reduce your heating bills? Another household bill you might be able to reduce is your self-storage insurance. If insurance is included in your self-storage invoice each month, check that you’re not overpaying by getting a quote for domestic self-storage insurance from Store and Insure.