cold wash for laundry

How Cold Is Too Cold for Doing Laundry?

One of the widely known benefits to washing your clothes at a lower temperature is that it saves a huge amount of energy in comparison to hotter washes. 

This means your energy bill will be lower, so you can add to your savings each month (or spend the money you would’ve spent on washes on going for coffee!). 

Lower temperatures are also far more sustainable for the environment—always good to be doing your bit!

That’s all well and good, but how cold is too cold? As much as it’s great to save energy, your laundry also needs to be washed to a high quality. 

The accumulation of dirt, bacteria and stains must be removed. Plus, we all want to maximise the quality and longevity of our clothing, towels and bedding! 

The temperature of your wash is very much dependent on what you’re washing. A cold wash is great for delicate items, or for coloured garments that are prone to running. Hotter washes are a better choice if you’re looking to remove any tough stains or get rid of the bacteria on heavily soiled items. 

The key to a cold wash is to use liquid detergent or capsules, as the wash will be unable to reach a high enough temperature to fully dissolve powdered detergents. Another tip is to increase the cycle speed to compensate for the lower temperature. This will ensure that your laundry is washed to a higher standard. 

Here is a rough temperature guide of which items are suitable for cold, and which need a bit more heat!

What to Wash at 20 Degrees

Wash clothes at 20 Degrees

  • Delicate garments, such as silk and wool. Always check the care label! Generally, should be on a low spin cycle.
  • Clothing that isn’t stained or heavily soiled 
  • Refreshing non-dirty items


What to Wash at 30 Degrees

cold wash temperature in the uk

  • Coloured fabrics 
  • Clothing that isn’t heavily stained or soiled
  • Sportswear
  • Delicates (on a very low spin cycle)
  • Acetate 
  • Acrylics 
  • Blouses


Avoid Washing These Items at 20 or 30 Degrees

clothes to Avoid Washing at 20 or 30 Degrees

  • Bedding 
  • Underwear
  • Tough stains
  • Heavily soiled items
  • Towels
  • Whites

20 or 30 degrees is too cold for the items listed above—they should be washed at a higher temperature.



Cold water won’t necessarily wash to a super high quality in every instance, which is why you should opt for hotter washes in certain circumstances. However, it will massively save on your energy bill and protect the quality of your garments, as will hang drying as opposed to using a tumble dryer! 

As with most things, there are pros and cons to a cold wash, but hopefully you now feel a bit more in the know as to which temperature is appropriate. Happy washing!