Can You Wash Underwear In Cold Water?

Can You Wash Underwear In Cold Water
hanging underwear on the line
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We have all been guilty of underestimating the effects of cold water in laundry. Thanks to the long believe that hot water clean clothes better.

But cold water has its own place in laundry and pulls its punch too. One such benefits of cold water wash, is the use of water in washing underwear.

Using cold water is the best choice when washing underwear, because it cleans your laundry and preserves your fabrics. With proper technique, it can also disinfect your lingerie from bacteria and other microbes.

This ability of cold water to retain fabric quality during wash is what sets it aside from other water temperature.

Why You Should Wash Underwear In Cold Water

The best underwear are soft on the skin, allows perspiration (are breathable) and does not retain moisture. Sadly the fabrics that usually meet this descriptions are the soft delicate fabrics that can be damaged when soaked in hot water.

For an overview of the different fabrics used in underwears, you can read this article. But a summary of the fabrics often used in underwears is that they are soft and delicate.

Washing machine water said to be hot when its reaches 60℃ celsius. At this point many fabrics begin to weaken under the pressure of the heat, especially when exposed to it for a period of time.

This causes the shrinking visible in light garments after laundrying. 

Well, when the clothes are taken out of the washer and exposured to cooler temperatures outside, they gradually regain their size.

But this is where the bigger problem comes. When materials are exposured to constant expansion and contraction, it can lead to breakage. 

Of course many fabrics have a little elasticity, but even the most elastic fabric has its limit. When exposed to hot water over a considerable period of time, fabrics molecule begin a slow but steady breakdown.

Cold water, on the other hand, is able to clean your clothes without the added pressure on your fabrics. This makes cold water the ideal water temperature to use on delicate lingerie and other underwear.

What Temperature Is Considered Cold?

Can You Wash Underwear In Cold Water
cold temperature

Generally, washing machine water temperatures are categorized into 3.

  • Hot
  • Warm, and
  • Cold
  • Hot (above 40℃)- Water temperature above 40℃ celsius is considered hot. The ideal temperature for most washing machine hot wash, though, is 60℃ celsius. 

At the far end of the hot wash spectrum is 90℃ celcius. This is considered very hot and used for washing whites garments and for disinfecting laundry.

  • Warm (30℃ – 40℃) – washing machine water is considered warm when it is between 30℃ – 40℃ celsius. This temperature is ideal to wash garments made of silk and linen. Many persons choose to wash lingerie at this temperature.

However, note that most bacteria are able to survive this temperature, and that exposing light fabrics over a long period of time can still shrink your clothes.

Its biggest advantage of cold water is its increased ability to remove stains, when mixed with detergents.

If your underwear is heavily used with stains from period, poop and body sweat, soaking them in warm soapy water will increase the cleaning process.

But do not use warm water as a disinfectant, you’ll only increase fabric shrinkage with little or no microbe killed.

  • Cold (Less than 30℃) – Water temperater less than 30℃ is considered cold wash. The ideal cold water temperature is 20℃ celsius and below. 

Cold water cannot disinfect effectively like very hot water, neither is it very effective at removing stains when used on its own. 

But with the application of detergent and other cleaning agents, you can get your laundry clean and germ-free even with cold water wash.

Advantage Of Washing Underwear In Cold Water

  • Preserves fabrics strength.
  • Protect garments dye.
  • Ideal for handwash
  • Reduces power consumption

Preserves Fabrics Strength

In the absense of hot temperature, fabrics contract or shrink and hence are able to withstand the stress of laundry without added pressure to the fabrics structure.

Regularly washing underwear in cold water, helps to preserve their lifespan.

Protect Garments Dye

Most underwear goes through a dying process that gives the fabric different attractive colors. However, these dyes are subject to leaching over time.

These are a natural process in laundering. However, water temperature can either increase its intensity or reduce it. Washing underwears in cold water greatly reduces leaching, hence the reducing fading of undergarments.

If you want your clothes to retain its color for long, simply resort to cold wash only, and you should be fine.

Ideal For Handwash

Hot wash is tempting when handled by a machine. But if you wash your underwear with hands rather than washing machine, cold water is the best, as it is gentle to your skin.

Prolonged wash time, can gradually damage your skin walls and cause breakage. Using cold water helps to reduce this effect.

Reduces Power Consumption

They you know that about 70% of the enery used by a washing machine is used to heat the hot water used for washing? So by going cold, you save amount spent on electricity bills.

Or rather let’s put it this way, the money used to run one hot wash is enough for 4 hot washes. So, the electricity bill used in a week to launder is enough to run your washer for the whole month.

That is some cool amount to save, especially if you’re on a budget.

Disadvantages Of Washing Underwear In Cold Water

Can You Wash Underwear In Cold Water
Steamy laundry room
  • Not effective at stain removal
  • Uses more detergent and soap
  • Not a standalone disinfectant

Not An Effective Stain Removal

Hard water reduces leaching. However, it also reduces the effective of detergents’ removal of heavy stains. If you need to launder underwears with stains, using cold water is not your best option.

In this case you should rather go for a warm wash. You can also soak in warm water first, before washing the underwear with cold water.

Uses More Detergent And Soap

Soap does not lather well in cold water. To effectively wash your lingerie and get the cleaning effect you’ll get from hot or warm wash, you need to apply more detergent or soap.

On the financial side, this is definitely not economical. But this is a little price that can be paid to shining effect we all desire from a newly laundered innerwear.

Not A Standalone Disinfectant

Many bacteria can be killed by exposing to 60℃ water temperature for some time. More are definitely killed at 90℃. But at 20℃, forge itt, they’ll have a picnic right under your nose.

Left to sheer temperature power, cold water alone cannot disinfect your underwears’ Or in other words, they do not kill germs.

Options To Disinfect Underwear In Cold Water

  • Soak in bleach before laundering
  • Use sufficient detergent and soap. Surfactants soap helps to wash away microbes.
  • Add sufficient vinegar to laundry (measurement table)
  • Treat with hydrogen peroxide formula (hydrogen peroxide, lemon juice, citric acid and water)

In Conclusion

Cold water is the best option to wash your underwears. That is why many manufacturers of underwears, encourages using cold launderying, whether handwash or machine wash. This can go a long way in prolonging their usage.

Of course they do have their downsides. But you can applying good laundry techniques. For ideas of how to optimize cold water wash, check out the following articles:

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