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The ultimate guide to using hot or cold water for stains

Should you use hot or cold water to remove stains? Wonder no more, we’ve got you covered. Read on to discover our guide to choosing the right temperature and knowing when one is more suitable than the other.


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By Cleanipedia Team

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Choosing whether to use hot or cold water to remove stains can be a divisive topic. Don't panic though, we're here to help. We've put together a guide to aid you in coming to your own conclusion. Read on to discover the best water temperature to remove stains.

Not all stains are banished in the first wash, and it's not just the water temperature that makes a difference. Using a good quality detergent like Persil will increase the chances of successful stain removal first time.

When to use a hotter water temperature to remove stains

If you’ve got the choice of using a hot or cold wash for stains, hot water is going to work best in many cases. That’s because the hot water not only helps to activate your detergent (and is more effective at thoroughly dissolving powdered detergent), but it also works to sanitise your clothing, making it look and feel clean and fresh. Some types of stains that respond very well to hot water are:

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When to use a cooler water temperature to remove stains

Most stains can be washed in hot water, and it’s the best option for many types of fabric. There are, however, a number of instances where hot water could actually make stain removal more difficult by setting the stains, or damaging your clothing. In these cases, the decision to use hot or cold water to get stains out sides with the cooler temperature. ‘Cold’ water is considered to be about 30°C. It’s recommended that you don’t set your washing machine temperature any lower than this, as colder water can affect the efficacy of your detergent. Some types of stains that respond very well to hot water are:

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Does cold or hot water remove stains faster

The effectiveness of cold or hot water in removing stains depends on the type of stain and the fabric involved. In general, hot water is more effective for removing oily or greasy stains as it helps to dissolve and lift the oils. However, hot water can also set protein-based stains like blood or sweat, making them harder to remove. Cold water is better for preventing colour bleeding and setting stains, especially for delicate fabrics. It's advisable to refer to the garment's care label and treat stains promptly. When in doubt, start with cold water and gradually increase the temperature if needed, following specific stain removal instructions.

So, now you know the answers to the question, "does hot water set stains?" and other information about whether you should use a hot or cold wash for stains you can make an informed decision when busting those unwanted stains on your clothing. For more tips and tricks, check out our top stain removal hacks.

Frequently asked questions about using hot or cold water to remove stains

Does hot water remove stains in delicate clothing or should I use cold water?

Regardless of the type of stain you’re dealing with, some delicate materials should always be washed in cold water, not hot. To avoid problems such as wrinkling or shrinking, use a cold wash for woolly jumpers, silk lingerie, satin skirts, over-dyed jeans and tie-dyed clothing.

Is hot or cold water better for stains that are protein based?

Protein stains such as dairy, blood, egg, glue, and white deodorant marks should always be washed in cold water. Hot water can actually cook the protein, causing it to absorb into the clothing fibres, and making it almost impossible to remove. Cold water helps lift the stain without setting it.

Does cold water set stains, or can I use it for removing all types of stain?

Using cold water can help to conserve energy and cut down energy bills in the long term. Plus, good-quality detergents are specially designed to wash effectively at lower temperatures. However, some stains will require a higher temperature to get them out completely, and clothing such as underwear and baby clothes should be washed at a higher temperature for proper sanitisation.

Should I use hot or cold water to remove stains if I don't know what made the stain?

If you’ve found mystery marks on your clothing, always try going down the cold-water route first as you don’t want to risk setting the stain into the fabric. In many instances, this should be sufficient to lift the stain, and you can then wash in hotter water if you want a more thorough clean. If the stain doesn’t come out in cold water, move on to hotter water and you should see results.

Originally published