Tap Cold vs Cold Washing Machine The Ultimate Guide to Laundry Water Temperatures

Tap Cold vs Cold Washing Machine: The Ultimate Guide to Laundry Water Temperatures

Are you confused about the different water temperature settings on your washing machine? Should you use cold, tap, or warm water to wash your clothes? What’s the difference between cold and tap cold anyway?

Washing clothes may seem simple, but the water temperature you choose can make a big difference in washing. The right setting can save money, and energy, help your clothes last longer, and even improve cleaning.

This complete guide breaks down exactly tap cold vs cold washing machine. You’ll learn the pros and cons of each, from saving money to getting out tough stains. Read on for tips, explanations, and answers to all your laundry questions!

An Introduction to Laundry Water Temperatures

Most washing machines today offer various water temperature options:

  • Cold – The cold setting uses water directly from your cold water supply, typically from 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. The water does not pass through a water heater.
  • Tap Cold – Tap cold also uses water directly from the cold water line without going through the water heater. The temperature may vary slightly depending on factors like your geographical location and the outside temperature.
  • Warm – Warm water is a mix of hot and cold water. Most washers mix about 75% hot water and 25% cold water to produce a warm temperature of around 90 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Hot – Hot water comes directly from your home’s hot water heater and is usually 120 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The highest temperature varies by machine.

Many people use the terms cold and tap cold interchangeably. Technically, tap water goes through an extra step to reach the desired cold temperature during the wash, while tap cold is raw water straight from the pipe. But in reality, they end up at about the same temperature.

Now that you know the different water temperatures, let’s explore when you should use each setting.

When Should You Use Cold Water for Laundry?

When Should You Use Cold Water for Laundry
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Here are 6 great reasons to use cold water for washing clothes:

  • Saves money on energy bills
  • Helps clothes retain color
  • Prevents dye transfer
  • Gentle for delicate fabrics
  • Cleans just as well for lightly soiled items
  • Better for the environment

The biggest advantage of washing with cold water is saving money. Heating water to reach the optimal washing temperature accounts for over 90% of the energy used for doing laundry. By skipping the hot water to reach the desired temperature, you can drastically cut energy costs.

Cold water is also gentler on fabrics. Hot water can cause certain fabrics and dyes to fade, shrink, or bleed. Delicate materials like spandex, rayon, wool, and silk do best in cold washes.

Finally, cold water cleans just as effectively as hot water for lightly soiled items. Today’s laundry detergents are formulated to work well in colder temperatures.

When to Use Warm or Hot Water for Laundry

Hot water does have some advantages for laundry:

  • Sanitizes to kill germs
  • Helps remove oils and tough stains
  • Works better for heavily soiled items
  • Can reduce wrinkles in fabrics

The main reason to use warm or hot water is to wash heavily soiled clothing. The higher temperature of the water helps dissolve oils and grease that cold water cannot. Hot water also provides sanitizing capabilities to kill germs and bacteria.

Warm water can also help stubborn stains like blood, sweat, grass, and food. The heat helps to loosen and lift stains from fabric fibers.

Heated water may also reduce wrinkling in natural fabrics like cotton. The warmth allows the fibers to relax and expand better than cold washing.

Specific Temperature Guidelines for Fabrics and Soil Levels

Specific Temperature Guidelines for Fabrics and Soil Levels
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Here are some general rules of thumb to help determine the best water temperature for laundry:

For lightly soiled items:

  • Delicates like silks, wools, spandex – Use cold, 30 to 40 degrees Celsius
  • Cotton, linens, and blends – Use cold, 30 to 40 degrees Celsius
  • Towels and sheets – Use cold, 30 to 40 degrees Celsius

For moderately dirty laundry:

  • Sturdy cotton and blends – Use warm, 40 to 60 degrees Celsius
  • Towels and sheets – Use warm, 40 to 60 degrees Celsius

For heavily soiled/stained items:

  • Sturdy cotton and blends – Use hot, 60+ degrees Celsius
  • Sturdy linens and polyesters – Best to wash them with hot, 60+ degrees Celsius water.
  • Whites – Use hot, 60+ degrees Celsius

Remember cold and tap cold water are essentially the same temperature. Use tap cold rather than cold if energy savings are your top priority.

Saving Money with Cold Water Washing

Using cold water can make a significant dent in your energy bills. Here are some estimates of just how much you can save:

  • 90% of energy for laundry goes to heating water.
  • Switching to cold water saves $60 to $100 per year for an average household.
  • A family that does 300 loads per year could save $330 by washing in cold.

The exact savings will vary based on your local energy rates, machine, and how often you do laundry. But it’s safe to say cold washing saves the average household big money each year.

Using Detergent in Cold Water

Many people worry their regular laundry detergent won’t work as well in colder water. Fortunately, most detergents today are specially designed for cold water efficiency.

Features to look for include:
✅ Enzyme-based formulas
✅ Super-concentrated liquids
✅ Pacs/pods/strips

Enzymes help break down stains in a cold cycle while concentrated detergents provide more cleaning power per ounce. Pacs provide pre-measured liquid or powder wrapped in dissolvable film.

Make sure your detergent says “cold water” formula on the label. Popular cold water brands include Tide, Gain, Persil, Arm & Hammer, Purex, and Seventh Generation.

Pre-treating stains in Cold Water Loads

While cold washing works great for light to moderately dirty laundry, some extra steps may be needed for tough stains. Helpful pre-treatment tips include:

  • Apply stain remover sticks and spray directly on stains before washing. Tide, OxiClean, and Shout make excellent pre-wash stain removers.
  • Consider a laundry booster or oxidizer like OxiClean to add to the cold water wash. It helps lift set-in stains.
  • For blood, sweat, and oil-based stains, use warmed water and Dawn dish soap solution first. Then launder as usual with detergent in cold water.
  • Remember warm or hot water washes may still be needed for the toughest dried-in stains.

Cleaning Issues to Avoid with Cold Water

Cleaning Issues to Avoid with Cold Water
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While cold water is highly effective for most laundry, there are a few instances that call for warm or hot water instead:

❌ Set in oily stains – Hot water works better to cut through grease and oils.

❌ Major dirt and grime – Heavily soiled items with lots of embedded dirt do better with warm or hot water.

❌ Disinfecting – Hot water provides sanitizing capabilities to kill germs and bacteria.

❌ Reducing wrinkles – Warm water can help some fabrics relax and minimize wrinkling during washing.

❌ Heavily soiled sports gear – The sweat and soil from sports clothing wash best in warm or hot water.

If you encounter cleaning problems with cold washing, try boosting your detergent amount by 50% first. If that fails, re-wash the items using warm or hot water as needed.

Special Considerations for Cold Water Washing Machines

Some washing machine models provide better cold-wash performance than others. Ideal features to have include:

❄️High efficiency (HE) – HE machines use less water. Detergent dissolves better in less water, even when cold. Front loaders tend to be more efficient than top-loaders.

❄️ Direct water line connections – Some washers connect directly to household water lines while others use hoses. The direct hook-ups provide better cold water performance.

❄️Higher spin speeds – Fast spin cycles remove more water, allowing detergents to work better. Faster spins also minimize re-wetting clothing against the drum which can lead to soil redepositing on clothes.

While not mandatory, washing machines with these cold-water optimized features will provide better results. But any washing machine will effectively clean with cold water to reach a proper clean, as long as you use a detergent formulated for lower temperatures.

Drying Clothes After Cold Water Washes

Laundry washed in cold water contains more residual moisture than hot water washed items. To properly dry cold water-washed clothes:

  • Shake items out thoroughly before placing them in the dryer. This prevents them from holding moisture against each other.
  • Use high-heat drying cycles. Cold wet clothes need higher heat than warm wet items.
  • Use dryer balls or low static dryer sheets if clothes seem damp mid-cycle. The mechanical action helps release moisture.
  • Check that the dryer vent ducting is clear. Restricted airflow increases dry time.
  • Clean the dryer lint filter before every load. Built-up lint impairs airflow.

Keep these dryer tips in mind, and your cold-washed clothes will come out dry and static-free. The only exception is line-drying cold-washed clothes, which takes notably longer than machine drying.

FAQs: Tap Cold vs Cold Washing Machine

You probably still have some questions about washing clothes in cold water. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked laundry cold water questions:

Should I use a cold or tap cold setting?

Either works fine. Technically tap cold water doesn’t go through a temperature regulation device within some washing machines. But the difference between the temperature of the water during a hot and cold cycle is negligible. Focus more on choosing a detergent specifically formulated for cold water use.

How can cold water be clean as well as hot?

Enzyme-powered detergents allow cold water to dissolve and remove stains very effectively. Concentrated formulas also provide extra cleaning of muscle. Always check that your detergent is designed for cold washing.

Do I need to use more detergent in cold water?

It depends. Follow the usage directions on cold water suitable detergents carefully. Some brands recommend a 50% boost in detergent quantity to offset water cold temperatures, which is best to wash clothes with. But other detergents are concentrated enough to not need an increase.

Should I wash workouts and sports clothes in the cold?

Synthetic fabrics and the heavy soil load from sweat make sports clothing a good warm/hot water wash candidate. But with the best high-quality cold-water washing detergent, you can clean very sweaty items immediately after use. For gear cleaned after sitting multiple wears, use warm or hot water instead.

Can I wash greasy stains in cold water?

Light grease maybe. But heavier oil and pigment stains like makeup and food grease wash best with heated water. Try directly applying an oil-fighting pre-wash stain remover before laundering in cold water. Or wash greasy items separately using the warm/hot water setting instead.

The Bottom Line on Washing Clothes in Cold Water

Here’s a quick recap on the benefits of washing with cold water:

✔️ Saves up to $100 per year in lower energy bills
✔️ Helps fabrics keep colors and avoid shrinking
✔️ Just as effective as hot for lightly soiled laundry
✔️ Better for delicates and items prone to dye bleeding
✔️ More eco-friendly than heating water to wash clothes

Cold water laundry cleaning has lots of advantages — with few downsides. Exceptionally dirty and stained clothing may need warm or hot water instead.

But armed with a high-efficiency washer and cold water detergent, you can feel confident that cold washing will get all your clothes sparkling clean!

As you can see, the whole “cold vs hot” debate has a clear environmentally (and wallet!) friendly winner for lightly to moderately soiled laundry. Here’s to saving energy and having clean clothes too with cold water washing. 🥶 🧺

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