If you’ve ever had to deep clean clothes or try to brighten whites, you might have come across the term “boil wash”.
Unfortunately, washing machines don’t have a setting labelled explicitly as a boil wash setting, which leads us to the question, what temperature is a boil wash?
We’ll answer this question below, along with discussing when you might want to use a boil wash and what fabrics it works best with.
What Temperature Is a Boil Wash?
A boil wash is the hottest temperature your washing machine offers, which is usually 90 or 95 degrees Celsius.
Despite being called a boil wash, washing machines don’t offer a 100-degree temperature. However, 90 degrees is certainly hot enough to do the job.
If you wanted an actual boil wash using the traditional method, you’d need to boil a pot of water on the hob, as this is the only way you’ll get water to 100 degrees.
However, it’s not necessary to do this because a 90-degree wash is more than enough to clean dirty laundry.
When Should You Use a 90-Degree Wash?
A boil wash is useful for a few reasons, including:
- Brightening whites. Washing at 90 degrees is an option for brightening whites if you don’t want to use oxygen bleach.
- Removing stains. Hot water works well against protein-based stains, and urine and tomato.
- Disinfecting clothes. If you’re concerned about bacteria on certain items (towels, bedding, underwear), running a boil wash can help kill it.
Bear in mind, though, that 60 degrees Celsius is hot enough for killing bacteria and, most of the time, for removing stains too.
A boil wash can be useful for something like dish cloths and tea towels, which will have food stains and bacteria growth. Chucking them in on a 90-degree cycle covers several issues and means they’ll be safe to use around the kitchen.
What Fabrics Can You Wash on a Boil Wash?
Using a boil wash cycle can risk shrinking or damaging certain fabrics. Generally, the only fabrics you’ll want to wash at 90 degrees are cotton and linen, as these have the least risk of being damaged.
Avoid synthetic fibres and synthetic/natural blends. Obviously, you’ll want to avoid washing delicates, denim, wool or silk on a boil wash too.
It’s unlikely that you’ll find helpful information on care tags regarding using a boil wash, as it’s rarely needed.
Provided you limit your boil wash use to heavily-soiled natural fabrics (such as the tea towels mentioned above), you shouldn’t run into any issues.
So, to answer the question of what temperature is a boil wash, we can conclude that there isn’t a specific temperature. For most, it’s 90 degrees Celsius, but some washing machines will go slightly higher.
However, there aren’t many instances where you’d need to use a boil wash because you can achieve similar results at 30-60 degrees depending on what you need to do.
If you decide to use a boil wash, make sure you don’t wash anything too valuable because you can’t guarantee it’ll come out looking the same!
Jacob is a freelance writer based in Wales, where he lives with his partner and two dogs. All his work is fuelled by extensive research and buckets of coffee.