First things first, any energy costs you save by washing at low temperatures will be relatively small, probably no more than £10 to £20 a year. However, a saving is a saving and if you want to be environmentally friendly, it'll certainly help; a 40 degrees cycle will use half as much energy as one at 60 for example.
There are concerns that low temperature washes (below 40 degrees) are not hot enough to kill bacteria or remove more stubborn stains and odours. Many older washing machines are not geared up for washing more heavy duty fabrics at low temperatures, as their low temp programmes are for usually for delicates and will be too gentle with a slow spin speed. Check your washing machine instruction book for details.
Tips for washing at 30 degrees or less
- Tackle stains as soon as possible. If you leave it to dry, you may find you need a hotter wash cycle.
- Seperate dark and light clothes
- Heavily marked items, grease and mud and grass stains for instance will need washing at normal temperatures or you'll end up having to run a wash again (defeating the object if you're trying to save energy).
- It is recommended that you wash underwear, towels and bedding at 40 degrees or above to kill bacteria. Additionally, if anyone in the household has been poorly, you should wash all your laundry at normal temperatures.
- It's not a good idea to scrimp on the amount of detergent you use. Always use the correct amount for the size of the load and water hardness in your area.
- Do not overload the machine as you're even more likely to be disappointed with the results by washing at low temperatures.
- Run a wash at 40 degrees once a week with a bleach-containing detergent to prevent smells, bacteria and grease build-up. It is also a good idea to run a maintenance wash once a month (see article link below).