The Only Things You Should Be Laundering In Hot Water

Hot water is commonly used when washing clothes because it's believed to be more effective at cleaning. The reality, however, is that most clothes can be washed in warm water because it cleans clothes well and also maintains the quality of most fabrics. In addition, a cold wash, the more environmentally-friendly option since it wastes less energy, comes to the rescue when dealing with delicate materials or fabrics susceptible to bleeding (via Wash Laundry). This means that unless you just got done playing in the mud with your dog, hot water probably isn't the best option for your next load.

While warm and cold cycles will serve most of your needs, there are certain situations where hot water is the best choice. However, it's essential to limit the use of this setting if you're attempting to reduce your home's energy costs. According to Consumer Reports, the power used to heat water in the washing machine takes up about 90 percent of its energy! Here are the only things that should be laundered in hot water so that you can save energy on everything else while still achieving immaculately clean results.


Whites are one of the two things that should be washed in hot water. A temperature of 130 degrees Fahrenheit or above is recommended for these items because it cleans them better, per Wash Laundry. When dealing with heavy white items like towels, sheets, and bedding, a hot cycle is your best bet because it will properly tackle germs and smells without risking color bleeding (via Grove Collaborative).

Everyday materials like cotton also benefit from the occasional hot cycle because it is great at getting out most stains and making them shine again. They can also typically handle high heat in your dryer, although checking a product's care instructions is always important. Alternatively, you can air-dry these items outside so they get naturally bleached by the sun. That being said, it's important to note that there are a few exceptions when washing whites. Delicate materials like underwear and swimwear might not hold up well in hot water and can either shrink or lose their quality. In such cases, you should opt for cold water or hand washing instead. A gentle pre-treatment is also a good idea when faced with particularly soiled delicates.

Soiled items

It shouldn't come as a surprise that heavily soiled items benefit from a wash in hot water. This includes work clothes that receive stains from contact with clothing killers like coffee, grease, or mud. Hot water is also great for sterilizing and disinfecting, which is why it should be used with baby items. Clothes and other items used during an illness or exposed to a steady supply of germs should also be washed in hot water.

Materials suffering from mold or mildew need to be washed in hot water because mold spores perish at temperatures of 140 degrees Fahrenheit and above. HowStuffWorks suggests washing them with natural disinfectants until you can't see or smell any more mold and then drying them outside so the sun can work its magic. Be careful with specific stains, however. If you're trying to get blood or sweat out from your clothes, hot water can actually cause them to set.