Washer Temperature Guide: Which Settings For Best Results

Washer water temperature

Stuck trying to figure out what water temperature is best for your clothes?

Don’t worry, I know how you feel. Selecting the right water temperature can be a bit challenging. After all, making the wrong choice can result in damaged and dirty clothes.

That’s why in this article, you’ll learn all there is to know about different washer temperatures, so you can relax knowing that your clothes will come out clean and fresh every time.

To choose the right water temperature for your washer, consider that hot water is ideal for tough stains and dirt, while cold water is better for delicate fabrics and bright colors. Warm water is a great middle ground, offering effective cleaning power while still protecting your clothes.

Ready to learn more? Let’s dive in!

Difference Between Washer Temperatures

Choosing the right water temperature can do more than just make your clothes look and feel good. It can also help you save money on your energy bills and extend the life of your clothes!

In this section, you’ll learn the main differences between hot, warm, and cold water. This way, you can pick the one that best fits your needs.

Hot Water

If you have a pile of heavily soiled or stained clothes that have been left untreated for weeks, hot water will be your best friend. It’s also ideal for washing whites, towels, cotton tablecloths, as well as other non-delicate fabrics.

Hot water for tough stains on clothes
Hot water is effective at removing dirt and stained clothes.

When you select the “Hot” setting, your washer heats the water to 130ºF or higher, which helps break down dirt and grime more effectively than cold water.

People often ask me why hot water is so effective at removing dirt and stains. It’s actually quite fascinating!

Heat causes molecules to move more quickly, weakening and separating the bonds between them. As a result, hot water can reach further into the fabric and loosen the dirt from the fibers, making it easier to remove.

Please keep in mind that hot water isn’t suitable for all types of clothes. Avoid using it for delicate fabrics like silk or wool and dyed clothes, as it can cause shrinking or fading.

It’s also worth mentioning that the higher the water temperature, the more energy is required to heat it.

This means that if you often use hot water to wash your clothes, your energy bills are likely to increase, which is not ideal if you’re trying to save some extra money.

Want to know exactly how much it costs to run your washer? Use our free calculator!

Warm Water

Warm water is typically set to around 90-110ºF. It’s a good compromise between hot and cold water, as it’s effective at cleaning lightly soiled clothes and colored fabrics that can easily fade in hot water.

It’s also perfect for those fabrics you’re not quite sure about – the ones that aren’t quite delicate, but you don’t want to risk hot water on them either.

It’s always recommended to read the care label of your clothes before washing them. Some fabrics, such as wool, may still be too delicate for warm water.

While using warm water may not be as energy-efficient as using cold water, it still gets the job done without using excessive amounts of energy.

Cold Water

As you probably imagined, cold water is best for delicate fabrics and bright-colored items that can easily shrink or fade with hot water.

Typically, the temperature of cold water in a washing machine ranges from 60ºF to 80ºF.

Selecting the “Cold” temperature setting means your washer doesn’t have to use extra energy to heat up water, which can help you save some extra bucks on your energy bill. This is also a great way to lower your carbon footprint and take care of the environment.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that cold water may not be as effective as hot water when it comes to removing tough stains, such as oil, grease, or makeup.

So, while it’s a smart choice for delicate, dark, and bright clothes, you may need to select a higher temperature for particularly soiled items.

Tips to Choose the Right Water Temperature

Now that you know the basics of how water temperature affects both your clothes and energy bills, let’s dive into some specific tips that will help you choose the perfect temperature for your clothes every time you use your washer.

#1 Read the Care Label on Your Clothes

The easiest way to avoid making mistakes when selecting the water temperature is by checking the care label on your clothes before throwing them into the washer.

These labels have many symbols that can be tricky to understand. But, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! Here’s what they mean:

Fabric care label symbols explained
Check the fabric care labels before putting your clothes in the washer

The care label is typically located on the side seam or near the collar of the garment. Make sure to check the temperature symbols and pay attention to any special instructions.

You see, some care labels may instruct you to wash that specific item separately or with similar colors, which can influence your choice of water temperature.

#2 Sort Laundry By Fabric Type

I know it can be tempting to save time and energy by washing all your clothes together, however, it can actually do more harm than good.

Imagine washing your favorite silk blouse with a pair of denim jeans – that’s a recipe for disaster!

So, after you’ve checked the care labels, gather as many clothes of the same fabric as possible to complete a full load, aiming to keep your washer at 75% of its capacity. This way, you’ll protect your clothes and avoid wasting water and damaging your machine.

Then, choose the right temperature according to the fabric type.

#3 Consider the Level of Stains

As we discussed earlier, cold water is great for delicate items, but it’s not as effective as hot water when it comes to washing heavily soiled items.

This is why it’s also important to consider the level of stains and dirt in your clothes before selecting a water temperature.

But, what should you do when a delicate fabric is heavily stained?

It’s very common to encounter this dilemma, but don’t worry. Your best bet is to use a stain remover that is designed for your specific fabric. After treating the stain, wash your delicate garment in cold water.

Remember, you should never use hot water on delicate items!

In case that doesn’t do the trick, you might want to take your delicate stained item to a professional cleaner who can give it special care.

#4 Use Your Washer’s Settings

If you’re in a hurry, your washing machine’s settings can be a real lifesaver.

You see, most washers have settings specifically designed for different fabric types, such as denim, colors, whites, baby clothes, sportswear, wool, and others.

These cycles will automatically adjust the water temperature, time, and spin speed based on the fabric you need to wash.

So, if you’re not sure about the right water temperature to use, simply choose the cycle that matches the fabric type, and let your washer do the work for you.

washing machine cycles
Choose a cycle that best fits the fabric type of your clothes and let your washer adjust the temperature accordingly.

Please keep in mind that if you add too little or too much detergent, it won’t matter what cycle or temperature of water you pick – your clothes may still come out dirty.

So, please read the instructions on the detergent packaging or refer to the manufacturer’s manual to make sure you’re using the right amount of detergent.

Can’t find your manual? Don’t worry! Take a look at our detailed guide on how to find any product’s manual online.

Extra tip: Avoid overloading your washer, as this can cause your clothes to come out dirty or damaged.


That about covers it! I hope that this article has helped you determine the best water temperature for washing your clothes.

Remember, choose cold water for delicate and dyed garments and op for hot water for heavily stained clothes.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this quick guide. If you found it helpful, please check out our other related posts below.

Have a wonderful day!

Hi there! I’m Craig, and I’m the founder of Appliance Analysts. When it comes to appliances and anything electrical, I’ve always loved opening things up, figuring out how they work, and fixing them. This website is where I share free advice from myself and our experts to help our readers solve their appliance/HVAC problems and save money. Read more