Which Washing Temperature for Which Type of Laundry?
Soil Level
Wash Temperature
No dirt or stains: Light summer clothing,
sportswear, T-shirts, shirts, blouses, bed linens
and towels
15°C / 20°C
(30°C if no 20°C
Moderately dirty: T-shirts, shirts, blouses,
underwear, kitchen linens, bed linens and towels
15°C / 20°C
(30°C if no 20°C
Extremely dirty and stained: cleaning textiles, work
uniforms, children’s clothes, sports gear stained
with grass and soil
40°C / 60°C
Stains – from eggs to oil and even berries – should never be left to dry. Immediately pre-treat
them with stain or spot remover (with or without bleach), especially oil stains and stains on
shirt collars. The item of laundry should be washed as soon as possible. After the pre-treatment,
the pre-wash cycle is not needed. Exception: when the item of laundry is extremely stained,
that soaking is needed, a pre-wash cycle is then recommended. This applies especially for
Washing at
20ºC is Cool
Publisher: S.A.F.E. (Swiss Agency for Efficient Energy Use, www.energieeffizienz.ch)
Download PDF: www.topten.eu/documentation.html
Partners: EKZ (Elektrizitätswerke des Kantons Zürich, www.ekz.ch), ewz (Elektrizitätswerk der Stadt Zürich, www.ewz.ch)
and WWF Switzerland (www.wwf.ch)
Zurich, June 2017
Edited by: Barbara Josephy, Eric Bush, S.A.F.E., Zurich
Translation: Diane Damino, S.A.F.E., Zurich
Graphics and Layout: grillenzirp.ch, Flüelen
Fotos: fotolia.com
Appropriate for slightly and
normally soiled laundry
Uses up to 70% less electricity
Gentle on clothes and fabrics
Cold washing
is cool – if it’s done
Clean Washing at 20°C
In addition to preparing the wash cycle properly, the following factors also
contribute to an energy-saving and clean wash performance:
Laundry does not need to be pre-washed.
After the wash cycle has ended, take the laundry out and dry it as soon as possible.
From the hygienic point of view, the wash temperature plays a minor role. It is more
important to dry the laundry thoroughly – preferably with sun and wind.
Leave the door to the washing machine and detergent compartment open so that
the residual moisture evaporates.
To prevent the formation of biofilm, run a load of laundry at 60°C with heavy-duty
detergent one or two times per month.
Before Washing at 20°C
The following factors will contribute to good washing results:
Classify laundry by colour, type of fabric and dirtiness.
A wash cycle at 20°C is appropriate for slightly and normally soiled laundry
(see back page for table).
Pre-treat stains immediately and wash the item of laundry as soon as possible
(see back page for table).
Fill the laundry drum to proper capacity (except for delicates and wool fabrics).
Over-filling reduces the washing effect, under-filling can stress the fabrics.
Save Up to 70% Electricity
Most of the energy used from washing machines is to
heat up the water. A wash cycle at 20°C needs around
70% less electricity than one at 60°C.
No 20°C Programme?
Identify Water Hardness
The higher the calcification level in the water, the
harder the water is. The water hardness is relevant
for laundry washing, because detergents contain
water softening agents. Therefore if water is soft, less
detergent is needed than for hard water. Consider the
dosage recommendation from the detergent manufacturer and make sure you are aware of the hardness level of the water in your home.
Older washing machines often have a 30°C programme
as the lowest available temperature.
In this case wash your slightly and normally soiled
laundry at 30°C with the programme for delicates. If
you are using a dryer after washing, it is recommended
to run a separate spin cycle using the highest number
of revolutions possible. Doing so lowers the amount of
the dryers electricity need considerably.
Tips for Laundry Hygiene
Protecting Fabrics and the Environment
Almost all detergent manufacturers offer detergent for the temperature range
of 15°C/20°C, 30°C, 40°C, 60°C and 90°C.
There are heavy-duty detergents for washing at low temperatures in powder, liquid
and gel varieties (with or without bleach) as well as detergents for coloured laundry.
These detergents should not be dosed higher for the temperatures of 15°C or 20°C
than for other temperatures. They wash the laundry clean with considerably less
chemicals than 20 years ago. Washing at low temperatures protects the environment
and is gentle to clothing and fabrics.
Consider the dosage recommendation from the detergent manufacturer regarding
the degree of dirtiness and water hardness.
From the hygienic point of view, it is safe to wash at low temperatures in residential
households with people without any illnesses. Only for households with people that
have an especially weak immune system, a contagious disease or a house dust mite
allergy it is recommended to frequently wash the laundry at 60°C. Consult with your
doctor if you have any questions or concerns. If you have a shared laundry facility
and concerns about hygiene, wash the first load of laundry at 60°C.
Efficient Washing and Drying
The energy-saving website www.topten.eu presents
a list of top-rated energy-efficient washing machines.
The most efficient laundry-dryers can also be found
on the Topten-website.