Should you wash laundry with hot water?

As laundry professionals, one of the questions that we hear the most frequently is,

“Should you wash laundry with hot water?”

This may seem like a straightforward question, however, the answer varies depending on several key factors.

In this post, we discuss the pros and cons of washing your laundry with hot water and explain when you should (and shouldn’t!) use hot water to wash your laundry.

The pros and cons of washing your laundry with hot water

In general, there are some basic benefits and drawbacks to using hot water to wash your laundry.


1. Effective sanitizer

One of the main benefits of using hot water to wash your laundry is that it is excellent at killing germs and sanitizing clothing and linens. If your family is battling a nasty virus or a stomach bug is going around your children’s school, using a hot wash cycle is an excellent way to kill germs and keep your household healthy.

2. Cuts through dirt

Washing your linens and clothing on a hot cycle is also an effective way to cut through dirt and refresh heavily soiled clothing. If you work in an industry like construction or landscaping, washing your laundry on hot might be exactly what you need to keep your workwear looking (and smelling) its best.

3. Best for cleaning synthetic materials and knits

Another benefit of hot water is that it is the most effective way to clean clothing made of synthetic materials like polyester, spandex, and nylon. It is also ideal for laundering knit materials.


1. Not eco-friendly

One of the key drawbacks of washing your laundry with hot water is that it is not environmentally friendly. This is because a lot of energy goes into heating the water used for a hot wash cycle. In fact, studies show that approximately one-third of the energy used in the laundry process is from heat production.

2. Expensive

Along the same lines, using hot water will drastically increase your utility bills since it takes a lot more energy to run your laundry on a warm or hot load than on a cold load.

3. Can lead to discoloration and damage

This is a con that most of us can relate to. Chances are that at some point in your adult life you’ve opened up the washer to find a favorite piece of clothing shrunken to half its size or the beautiful color of a garment drastically faded due to washing your laundry with hot water.

4. Can set in stains

You may think that hot water is the best way to remove stains, but, in reality, it can actually set in certain types of stains, making them more difficult to remove. You can easily remove BBQ sauce stains or yellow armpit stains.

When you should (and shouldn’t) use hot water to wash your laundry

As you can probably see from the pros and cons listed above, there are certain times where a hot wash is absolutely necessary and other times when a hot wash can quickly ruin your favorite shirt. So how do you know when to use hot water and when to avoid it entirely? Below are a few guidelines to help you pick the right temperature for your laundry every time!

Stick to cold water if:

  • You are washing delicate materials like lace or silk
  • You are washing dark or bold colors that will likely fade or bleed
  • You are trying to minimize your environmental impact or save on your utility bills
  • You are trying to remove certain types of stains (especially sweat or blood)
  • You want to minimize wrinkles

Turn to hot water if:

  • You are trying to sanitize clothing
  • You are washing heavily soiled loads
  • You are washing knits or synthetic fabrics (like nylon, spandex, or polyester)

Still not sure?

When in doubt, always read the labels of your clothing or linens, since the manufacturer usually knows best.

Need professional help?

We will do your laundry for you! Check out our laundry drop off service to learn more!

If you are worried about damaging your clothing or nice linens by using the wrong wash cycle, we are here to help! Contact us today, and let our team of experienced professionals take the guesswork out of laundry day!