Let's Settle This: Should Linens Be Washed in Hot or Cold Water?

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.

Welcome to Healthy Home: This is the moment to double down on making your home as healthy as possible, whether it's finding nontoxic cookware, trying out new natural cleaning methods, or turning your space into a fitness and wellness zone.

When it comes to the temperature of our washing machine's water, we definitely need a cheat sheet. This is especially the case with linens like towels and sheets. Should they be washed in hot or cold water? Somewhere in between? We asked the experts for a definitive answer.


Video of the Day

"Washing sheets and towels with warm water and mild detergent is the best way to get them clean and reduce fading," Danielle Smith Parker, the founder of Detroit Maid, tells Hunker. "Cold water does not clean sheets as well and hot water leaves linens prone to fading."

However, if you're dealing with linens that aren't brand new and you don't have to worry about fading, Hannah Yokoji, the brand director at The Laundress, recommends hot water. "Because sheets and towels are often in contact with naturally-occurring body oils and products such as body lotion, which can cause staining, discoloration, and dinginess, hot water works best to lift them and also provides the most hygienic cleanse," she explains.

The only exception, according to Yokoji, is if you are dealing with blood stains. "When treating blood stains, use cold water," she says. "Be sure the stain is completely removed before washing linens in hot water as hot temperatures can set in the stain."

If you have stains on your linens, Yokoji advises that you pre-treat those stains with the right product. For color-rich stains like wine, coffee, tea, dirt, and blood, she specifically recommends Stain Solution. For oil-based stains from makeup or skincare products, the Wash & Stain Bar would be best.

So there you have it: Use warm water for new linens, hot water for older linens, and cold water for anything with a blood stain.


Anna is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor who covers lifestyle and design content for Hunker. She's written for Apartment Therapy, the L.A. Times, Forge, and more. She previously worked as the lifestyle editor at HelloGiggles and deputy editor at So Yummy. Her email: anna.gragert@hunker.com