Can I wash all my clothes together in cold water?

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Washing different types of clothes together may seem like a no-brainer. Dip all your clothes in one machine wash and out they come, sparkling clean without a need for a second run… Except it is usually not this rosey.

Washing different types of clothes together will cause cloth dyes to bleach and stain other garments in the mix. This is even more serious if there are white or brighter color clothes in the mix.

Also since different fabrics need different washer setting for fabric care, washing all in one, will either not clean some garments enough, or will damage others made of delicate fabrics.

I learnt this the hard way!

A few years ago, I noticed that my new white singlets were looking old and gray after each wash.

And that of my roommate was even worst. It always look “dirty” no matter how hard he washes it.

Because I hand-wash my singlets and other underwears often, I started noticing a pattern: 

Whenever I wash with hands, the singlets looks sparkling white, but each time I wash them with the other clothes in the washer, pooof! it goes in, new with some sweat stains, and comes out clean, but old and grayish.

Gbam! I’ve got what I was looking for.

The singlets were greying out because of mixing with garments of darker colors in the wash.

I stopped washing them together, and the problem stopped.

For my roommate, his was already too late, his singlets were irreparably faded.

I learnt the hard way that you don’t wash all your garments together… even in cold water.

Advantages of washing clothes in cold water

In this context, the major advantage of washing cloth in cold water is fabric care.

Clothes tend to bleach faster in hot water than they do in cold.

Washing clothes in cold water help to reduce the rate at which dyes leave the clothes.

But, mark the word: Reduce, and not stop.

So in essence clothes can still loose some dye, even in cold water.

But at least this is the upside of washing in cold water.

But is this a good enough reason to wash all your clothes together in one wash? No it isn’t.

Problems with washing all your clothes together in cold water

Different clothes, different wash requirements

I recently saw a comment on Quora. Someone said, ‘he doesn’t care what other people think or say, but he sure knows that washing in cold water does not clean clothes well and remove stains.’

Just like him, many people wash with cold water to save cost, however they increase washer time, or at least use the maximum time allowed for the toughest fabrics in the mix.

The idea is to allow their garments to “clean better.”

However this comes at the expense of the softer guys in the mix

At the point where denim becomes  thoroughly clean, your linen might have begin to loosen and your silk would have been far gone.

If you choose to use delicate wash settings, on the other hand, soiled garments, thicker cotton and other denser fabrics might not experience a thorough wash.

Mixed loads increases stains caused by bleaching

While most clothes tend to retain their colors when washed in water, some clothes will still bleach no matter the color.

Some African tye-and-dye and low quality jeans are notorious for this. They simply loose color no matter what.

Having this in a mixed wash will cause stains in other garments especially white clothes.

Different clothes, different dryer temperature requirements

Below is a screenshot of a section in the Samsung DVE(G)45T3400 Dryer manual.

Do you notice that there are 4 different drying temperature settings for different fabric types?

What does this have to do with washing clothes together? 

Often clothes that are washed together are dryed together. Hardly do people wash clothes together and sort them separately before drying.

So the point? Even dryers don’t encourage drying all kinds of clothes together. And washing them separately is best way to avoid this.

How to use cold water to wash mixed clothes

You can use cold water to wash different cloth types successfully.

  1. Use cold water, but sort your clothes before washing.
  1. Wash similar colors and fabric texture together.
  1. Identity clothes that regular bleach during wash, and always wash them separately.
  1. Always wash white clothes differently.
  1. Reduce the soak time. Soaking clothes for too long causes some fabrics to leach and bleach.


Washing clothes together in cold water is possible. But washing all your clothes irrespective of the colors and fabric type is not adviseable.

But if you learn to sort similar clothes and colors you can wash a large percent of your clothes together in cold water.

Cold water wash is environment friendly, saves electric energy. And now you can add this to the list: enables washing of different clothes together, but with some clauses.

Many of you might have tried it yourself and find better way of washing all your clothes together in cold water without any side effect. Your ideas will be really appreciated.

You can drop your comments below, and if they’re sizeable or very noteworthy, I will probably use them to update this article.

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