Hot or cold water for doing the laundry? Find out which one to use, depending on the types of stains you want to remove

by Mark Bennett

May 15, 2024


In most cases, the "secret" to doing effective laundering, is to separate your clothes properly and not wait too long to wash them. But when it comes to removing stubborn and/or old stains, it is also essential to know what type of stain you are dealing with. Typically, you will do different loads (and on different cycles) depending on the fabric and the colors. But it is also important to know how to deal with different types of stains! Let's find out how to do this:

Cold water: when to use it for the laundry


There are various benefits to using cold water, but many believe it's less able to effectively remove dirt from clothes. These benefit include:

  • It is "kinder" to garments, because the fibers undergo less stress (meaning, the garments will last longer).
  • It doesn't fade colors (unlike hot water)!
  • It saves money because you use much less energy for each wash.
  • It reduces lint production, so it's better for the appliance (and the environment!).

So, should you use cold water exclusively? Well, no. Although there are now many products available nowadays that clean and sanitize "at low temperatures", it is also true that there are certain types of stains that can only be effectively removed with hot water. So, for what types of stains should cold water be used? Some examples are listed below:

  • Blood
  • Urine
  • Cheese, milk and dairy products
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee or tea
  • Wine
  • Baby foods


What types of stains are best treated with hot water?


Generally, hot water should be used only when repeated stain-removing attempts at low temperatures have failed. However, there are certain types of stains which are best treated immediately with hot water (while not the instructions on the washing labels)!

The stains for which hot water are recommended are:

  • Mud
  • Oily or grease-based stains (including butter and cooking oil)
  • Tomato and tomato-based sauces
  • Body creams and lotions
  • Sweat

As a rule of thumb, use hot water on protein-based, greasy and oily stains. Use cold water/low temperatures for other types of stains.

If you follow these guidelines, you should be able to remove stubborn stains and without damaging your garments.

Did you already know about this "stain-laundering wisdom"?