When your hot water heater is broken, your life becomes a nightmare. There’s no hot water for washing up, and you can say goodbye to a warm, relaxing bath or shower.
But what about your laundry? Will a washing machine work if the hot water is broken in your home?
The simple answer to this question is yes. You can continue to use your washing machine when you have no hot water.
However, how effective this will be in washing your clothes depends on several factors.
Read on for all you need to know about doing the laundry with no hot water.
Can I Still Do Laundry Without Hot Water?
Your washing machine can still do its job regardless of whether you have hot water. However, unless your washing machine heats its own water, your laundry will be cleaned in a cold wash.
Most washing machines have two water valves they draw from: a hot water valve and a cold water valve.
Without hot water, your appliance can continue to draw in water as usual and wash your clothes with whatever water comes through the pipes. This effectively means your machine will draw cold water in, no matter which valve it uses.
Using your washing machine in this condition is entirely safe, with two exceptions:
Water heater isn’t working due to a leak
If your water heater has stopped working due to a significant leak or clog, it is not advisable to use your washing machine.
Trying to use your machine when it has no water supply will cause damage to the appliance. Therefore, these issues always need to be dealt with by a professional before you continue to use the machine.
Washing machine doesn’t have hot water but the rest of the house does
The second exception is when your washing machine doesn’t have access to hot water, but the rest of the house does.
This means there is an issue with your appliance rather than the water heater. In this instance, it is best to call a professional rather than try to deal with the problem yourself.
What Can You Wash in Cold Water?
When you’re forced to wash your clothes using cold water, you may be worried that your laundry won’t come out as clean as usual.
Although there are a few situations where this would be the case, most of your clothing will come out just as clean after a cold wash as it would a hot one.
In fact, if you check the care labels on your clothing, you will notice that many items actually recommend using cold water!
For example, delicates, denim, and dark-coloured clothing benefit from a cold wash, as the lower temperatures keep your clothing vibrant and protect it from shrinking.
In most cases, any differences in the cleanliness of your clothes after a hot and cold wash will be due to the quality of your laundry detergent.
Unfortunately, some detergents will have difficulty dissolving in cold water, meaning they won’t be able to wash your clothing effectively.
Are There Any Downsides to Washing Clothes in Cold Water?
A cold wash can be very beneficial. It can help protect more delicate items from shrinking and is an excellent option while your hot water is broken.
Cold washes are also much more energy efficient, meaning you’ll save on your energy bill if you continue using cold water.
However, there are some downsides to not having access to hot water. Clothes made of synthetic materials will require a hot wash to be cleaned properly, as will some stains (e.g., blood and sweat). Cold water is also not as effective at sanitising your laundry.
In most cases, these downsides aren’t much of an issue. A few items of clothing may need to wait for the heater to be fixed, but most of your laundry can be done to a good enough standard to continue wearing the clothes.
However, if someone in your household is sick, you’re washing towels and bedding, or you’ve got a particularly stubborn stain, you’ll want to hold out and use hot water to remove any germs or markings from the fabric.
If you need to wash any of these items immediately, you can get them professionally cleaned or use a laundrette.
Hannah is a freelance content writer with a passion for cleaning. She worked her way around Australia by cleaning hostels in exchange for free accommodation and used her cleaning skills to bag her a job as a chalet host for a luxury ski company in France.