Machine washing at 40° is a terrible idea: here’s why you should stop this habit

The washing machine is an essential appliance in our homes to allow us to keep our linen clean and fresh. While we use it regularly to wash our clothes, sheets, towels, etc., it is not uncommon for us to wonder, even after several years of use, about the best washing program to choose from all those offered by the washing machine, being able to combine efficiency and economy. Most people, in fact, almost instinctively move towards the 40°C programme, perceived as a sort of universal temperature, ideal for all types of laundry. In reality it is a bad idea that can hurt your wallet, but not only that. Let’s explain why.

The washing machine is certainly far behind in the ranking of the most energy-intensive appliances in a home, but with the increase in the cost of energy it becomes necessary to pay close attention to the factors that influence the amount of energy consumed in a home. Washing clothes at 40 degrees Celsius is one of them. Why and how? Let’s see it together.

Why no longer wash your laundry at 40°C?

Washing clothes at 40 degrees Celsius, like the average French, is often considered a good compromise between washing efficiency and reasonable electricity consumption. This is a wrong calculation. In fact, the energy consumption of your washing machine can practically double if you choose this temperature, while another program available on most washing machine models allows you to obtain the same result with a lower consumption in kWh and therefore in euros.

Read also: Use your washing machine at this time of day: you will make big savings on your energy bill

washing clothes at 40°C is not a good idea

Why is washing laundry at 40°C a bad idea?

Washing clothes at this temperature is not necessary to obtain clean and shiny clothes. It turns out that recent models of washing machines have energy-efficient programs that allow them to be efficient at low temperatures. Furthermore, several manufacturers now offer cleaning agents that are active from 20 degrees Celsius. But in addition to this, two other arguments should be able to convince us to give up washing at 40°C: on the one hand energy saving, on the other the protection of the planet. You may not know it, but lowering your wash temperature by 10°C can make a significant difference.

Is it different to wash clothes at 40°C rather than 30°C?

For your wallet, yes! Keep in mind that most of the energy expended during a machine wash is used to heat the water. Consequently, reducing the temperature from 40 to 30°C means reducing energy consumption. But the most surprising thing is that the result for your clothes, especially everyday ones, remains the same. In fact, apart from some types of laundry, the 30°C program will be suitable for almost everything and will give you satisfaction. To better perceive the difference in terms of energy consumption depending on the program you choose, you should know that washing laundry at 60°C consumes approximately 1.3 kWh. If, however, a washing temperature of 40°C is used, energy consumption is reduced to approximately 0.7 kWh. And if you wash your laundry at 30°C, your energy consumption is even lower, down to just 0.4 kWh. enough to reduce your electricity bill. And this is not the only advantage. Lowering the temperature is also an ecological gesture.

the 30°C program is more than sufficient for your clothes

Why is washing clothes at 30° green?

According to an awareness campaign carried out in March 2021 by the detergent brand Ariel, entitled “every degree counts”, and whose objective was to promote the effectiveness of cold washing, if every French family systematically opts for the 30° programme, this save as much energy as the consumption of the city of Nantes, or even the equivalent of the carbon footprint of two million cars, if the operation were carried out on a European scale. It means that making a low-temperature machine is beneficial for the environment, because it allows you to reduce CO2 emissions, which contributes to the protection of our planet by reducing the negative impacts of global warming on our ecosystem.

Sheets, colors, detergent… 3 answers to 3 frequently asked questions about the optimal washing temperature for laundry

Creating a washing machine may seem like a banal activity that could be summed up in a few quick gestures such as opening the washing machine door, stacking everything you want to wash in the drum, adding the detergent, closing and launching the programme. But as we all know, it’s not that simple. This task raises many questions for many people. Let’s look at the most common ones.

Can colors be mixed at 30 degrees Celsius?

Yes, you can, but under certain conditions. By choosing the 30°C programme, you can do without the work of sorting the laundry. Of course, taking care to separate your clothes from tea towels, towels and other linen made of robust fabrics, which are generally dirtier and more stained, and which therefore need to be washed at high temperatures, in particular to eliminate bacteria. Furthermore, with low temperature washing, the fibers of the garments are less likely to be damaged, the colors do not fade and do not become dull. They are therefore better preserved. However, you can never be careful enough. For example, washing a white item between colored items, especially if they are new and you are washing them for the first time, is clearly not a good idea.

At low temperatures, you can mix colors 

Which clothes should be washed at 40 degrees Celsius?

As mentioned above, you can wash your everyday clothes made of cotton, wool, linen, etc. at 30°C instead of 40, obtaining the same result in terms of cleaning. However, the 40°C program is sometimes recommended for fabrics in direct contact with the body such as underwear and bath towels.

At what temperature should sheets be washed?

When it comes to washing sheets, the appropriate temperature depends on some important factors, namely:
The material of the sheets: cotton sheets can be washed at higher temperatures, up to 60°C, while more delicate materials such as silk they should be washed at lower temperatures.

Washing frequency: a washing temperature of 40°C is recommended for a weekly washing frequency. This helps maintain the quality of the sheets during washes. However, if you opt for a machine wash every two weeks, the degree of soiling of the sheets and the presence of microbes may require a temperature between 60°C and 90°C, especially for white sheets.

Read also: Remove all limescale from your washing machine by adding a common ingredient

Sheets may require high temperature washing

What temperature causes a garment to shrink?

In most cases garments tend to shrink at temperatures above 60°C, but this can vary depending on the fabric and type of fibers used to make them. To ensure you preserve your garments, follow the washing and care instructions on the garment’s label. These may recommend specific washing temperatures and drying methods to avoid shrinkage.

The benefits of lowering the temperature of your washing machine may seem minimal to you, but compared to the number of washes you do per year, the energy and money savings are immediately noticeable, in addition to the satisfaction you will have in doing a good deed for the planet.

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