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What Happens When Your Clothes Are Washed at the Wrong Temperature?

Washing your favorite item of clothing in the wrong water temperature can cause them to shrink, stretch, fade, and have a shorter lifespan overall. Thankfully, your washer was developed to help keep your favorite clothes wearable for as long as possible, and like all appliances, new innovations are constantly being created to help provide better results. However, those results depend on whether you know how to operate your washer correctly - and that includes learning the right wash temperatures.

Know When It's Risky

While a single stretched tank or discolored shirt might be an annoying inconvenience, it’s not end of the world. But when your clothes are constantly coming out of washes warped, faded, and shrunken, it can become a costly thing to have to replace. With trends such as the slow fashion movement pressing the issue of sustainability, consumers are become more and more aware of wasteful practices, and selecting the wrong wash temperature—which can damage clothes, forcing them to need to be replaced—could be a contributor.

By selecting the right wash temperature, you are doing double service: You’re helping your wallet and helping the Earth out.

Labels Have All the Info

The best way to know the right water temperature for a load is to simply check the label. Reading laundry labels feels like trying to decode a wall of hieroglyphics, but luckily, there are multiple ways of finding the info you need, like this easy laundry symbol guide. For even more convenience, consider printing out the guide and hanging it in an area that’s easy to access in your laundry area. If at any time you have doubts, check the board and wash with confidence.

Cold Cycles

Before we mention anything else, we have to vouch for cold-water washes when it comes to energy efficiency. The average washing machine uses up to 90 percent of its energy just to heat up water. That means washing clothes in cold water can save you some serious bucks over time, and that beats finding random dollars in your pockets any day.

Warm Cycles

Did you know denim is best washed in warm water? While hot water and hot drying could potentially shrink jeans, warm-water washes provide just enough heat to lift soils and messes better than cold water.

Hot Cycles

No other wash temperature kills bacteria as effectively as a hot wash. At the same rate, hot-temp washes will shrink certain fabrics and bleed colors.