You’ve been lectured for years about the importance of washing white clothes separately from dark clothes—rightly so. But it’s equally important to choose the right water temperature when you do a load of whites.
Conventional advice says to blast your white clothes with hot water to break down tough stains , sweat, and body oils. However, modern laundry detergent formulas (like Laundry Sauce ) contain surfactants and enzymes that clean white clothes in cool water just as well as they would in warm water.
Washing your whites at lower temperatures also helps prevent clothes from shrinkage and damage. Not to mention, cool water is more eco-conscious since it uses less energy. That said, you should always follow the care instructions on your garment.
Keep reading to learn the science behind washing your whites, the right cycle to use, and the best laundry detergent to use along the way.
What Temperature Is Best to Wash White Clothes?
The ideal water temperature to wash most white clothes is cool or lukewarm water, between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Washing your white clothes at lower temperatures ensures the fabrics won’t shrink or weaken during the wash cycle. The exceptions are items that come in contact with bodily fluids or require sanitization, such as towels, napkins, and underwear.
Pro Tip: Always follow the care instructions on your garment, which specify the right water temperature to use.
For decades, liquid and powder detergents needed hot water to dissolve and clean effectively. But advances in chemistry allow modern laundry detergents to break down and lift stains at lower temperatures, saving energy in the process.
For example, our research and development team at Laundry Sauce developed a proprietary blend of surfactants, enzymes, and polymers that brightens whites and dissolves tough stains in cold water. Bonus: Our detergent pods come in sophisticated fragrances like Australian Sandalwood and Egyptian Rose .
Some people assume it’s safe to blast their white clothes with hot water. But natural fibers like cotton, wool, and linen can easily shrink and weaken in temperatures above 130 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s why it’s best to play it safe and wash your whites in cool or lukewarm water.
When to Use Hot Water to Wash Whites
While most white clothes are best washed in cool or lukewarm water, some items will require you to crank up the heat on laundry day . These items that come into direct contact with body fluids or are used in settings where hygiene is crucial may benefit from being sanitized in hot water (typically above 143 degrees Fahrenheit) to kill bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens:
Pro tip: Always pretreat tough stains before running a wash cycle, otherwise the stain can set into the fabric.
What Temperature Do You Wash White Clothes with Bleach?
When washing white clothes with bleach, it's typically recommended to use warm or hot water. Higher temperatures help activate and enhance the bleaching action, providing better stain removal and whitening.
The ideal temperature for washing white garments with bleach is around 120-140°F. However, always check the care instructions on the clothing label and the bleach product, as some fabrics or blends may not tolerate high temperatures or bleach.
What Washer Setting Should You Use for White Clothes?
When washing white clothes, play it safe and use a gentle or delicate cycle. These cycles use slower agitation and gentler spinning, which protects delicate whites from stretching, shrinkage, and wear and tear.
However, for sturdy items like towels or bed sheets that can handle more agitation, you might opt for the regular cycle or a heavy-duty cycle to get a thorough cleaning.
We hate to sound like a broken record here, but always refer to the care labels on your items to ensure you're using the appropriate cycle for each item.
No matter which cycle you use, never wash your whites with colorful fabrics, otherwise the dyes may bleed. Lastly, don't cram your washing machine with too many items—this can prevent the water and detergent from dispersing evenly during the wash cycle.
Brighten Your Whites with Laundry Sauce
Whether you need to clean your crispy white t-shirts or handle the aftermath of a Wine Wednesday gone wrong, Laundry Sauce is the not-so-secret ingredient to brighten your whites.
Our pods are concentrated with 4x more cleaning power than traditional liquid laundry detergent and enriched with 4 bio-enzymes that tackle stubborn stains and revive dingy whites. Sure, we’re in the business of cleaning your clothes—but we’re also in the business of making them smell sexy AF .
That’s why we infused our pods with responsibly-sourced luxury fragrances, including French Saffron and Australian Sandalwood . Get started for as little as a dollar a load and see why thousands of people are ditching their old detergent for the Sauce.