What percentage of a washing machine's energy is used purely to heat hot water?

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  • Spoonie_Turtle
    Spoonie_Turtle Posts: 8,383 Forumite
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    Alnat1 said:
    Maybe I'm missing something that needs careful explaining to me but will say it again, why do people feel the need to wash towels at a higher temperature than their clothes?

    Your towel is used to dry your clean body after a shower/bath, it doesn't really get "dirty". You then put on your underpants, that you are happy to wash at 20/30/40C even though they were in contact with the not so clean bits of your body for many hours prior to washing.

    So what was the point of the hot washed towel? To stay cleaner for an extra 2 minutes?
    Some of the thinking behind it could be that they're used repeatedly between washings, much more than clothes, so even if you use them for say, a week between washing, that's a week that bacteria and other pathogens have had to multiply (with some of that time being wet/damp), whereas your clothes you might wear for a few days, dry, so less time and different conditions for pathogens to multiply.

    I'm not saying that's definitely the case or that towels are 'dirtier' than clothes, just that could be part of the reasoning.
  • silverwhistle
    silverwhistle Posts: 3,790 Forumite
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    I use the 30 or 40 cycle but I fill using a watering can of very hot water when I have a tank full from surplus solar PV, although that hasn't happened for a week or two. It saves around 15 minutes on the cycle I use.

    My football kit tends to go in the bath for a soak after mine before going in the washing machine, but then I'm a goalkeeper, although not quite Mary Earps level! The bath water then looks like the Nile after a flood and needs quite a clean to get rid of the sedimentary products.. Rarely do I use higher temperatures and that's more for the occasional clean out of the machine.
  • Ectophile
    Ectophile Posts: 7,314 Forumite
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    Alnat1 said:
    Maybe I'm missing something that needs careful explaining to me but will say it again, why do people feel the need to wash towels at a higher temperature than their clothes?

    In my case, it's because I want to do a 60C hot wash from time to time to stop things growing in the bottom of the machine.
    I'm not going to wash synthetics at 60C, and definitely not woollens.  So towels it is.
    I also wash dishcloths and hankies in with the towels, which seems like a good idea to me.
    If it sticks, force it.
    If it breaks, well it wasn't working right anyway.
  • Alnat1 said:
    Maybe I'm missing something that needs careful explaining to me but will say it again, why do people feel the need to wash towels at a higher temperature than their clothes?

    Your towel is used to dry your clean body after a shower/bath, it doesn't really get "dirty". You then put on your underpants, that you are happy to wash at 20/30/40C even though they were in contact with the not so clean bits of your body for many hours prior to washing.

    So what was the point of the hot washed towel? To stay cleaner for an extra 2 minutes?

    I can't remember where I read it but may google but it's to do with feces. The naked body and a towel and not everyone is as thorough as they should be before doing the crevices dry.

    Fine if you then wash after every use but it it then sits on the heated towel rail and still has bacteria on it not killed by previous washes well you let you imagination run.


  • The_Green_Hornet
    The_Green_Hornet Posts: 1,429 Forumite
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    Alnat1 said:
    Maybe I'm missing something that needs careful explaining to me but will say it again, why do people feel the need to wash towels at a higher temperature than their clothes?

    Your towel is used to dry your clean body after a shower/bath, it doesn't really get "dirty". You then put on your underpants, that you are happy to wash at 20/30/40C even though they were in contact with the not so clean bits of your body for many hours prior to washing.

    So what was the point of the hot washed towel? To stay cleaner for an extra 2 minutes?
    Can clothes and towels spread germs? - NHS (www.nhs.uk)
  • TheElectricCow
    TheElectricCow Posts: 476 Forumite
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    Typically everything goes in at 30c in my house, occasionally 40c if things are looking a bit dire, but no discrimination as to the contents of the machine here. Heavily soiled items get the Daz instead of cheapo detergent, but I don’t feel any need to wash higher than that and it’s worked just fine for me so far. My dishes don’t even get washed at 60c and I eat off those so I’m sure the clothing that I don’t put in my mouth is doing just fine.

    Since last winter, hotter cycles are generally reserved for times when DFS events will pay for them, which is when I might do an extra hot “machine cleaning” cycle. My machine is fairly well looked after though and not especially unclean so I’m not concerned about the infrequency of running these cycles. 

    If I did ever decide to start worrying about excessive bacterial growth on my towels I’d probably just put them on a drying cycle after washing as usual. My drying program can run at either 60c or 90c so that’d soon sort things out.
    Moo…
  • markin
    markin Posts: 3,842 Forumite
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    edited 3 January at 5:05AM
    I have a rock that keeps black bears away, never fails me.

    Our ancestors also never had to deal with super bugs, everything has adapted.

    Bed bugs and Scabies on the rise.

     https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-12918925/Doctors-report-nightmare-surge-highly-contagious-itchy-skin-condition-caused-tiny-mites.html

    "A 'nightmare' surge in scabies cases poses a major public health concern, experts warned today. 

    Scabies is an intense itchy and bumpy rash caused by the saliva, eggs and faeces of the parasitic mite Sarcoptes scabiei, with symptoms sometimes lasting for months. 

    It is highly contagious and can sweep through shared accommodation, such as university halls, care homes, prisons and immigration detention facilities.

    Infection rates in the UK have doubled in a year, with doctors fearing that a failure to treat the condition quickly, amid medication shortages could spur on the outbreak. 

    Latest surveillance data from the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) shows there were three cases per 100,000 people in November, double the seasonal average. 

    In the week beginning November 27, 27,484 cases were recorded by 500 GP practices in England and Wales that monitor the rash." 

  • booneruk
    booneruk Posts: 283 Forumite
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    If your bedroom / body is riddled with parasites then washing bedding, no matter the temperature, isn't going to end your problem.
  • chrisw
    chrisw Posts: 3,404 Forumite
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    I've never thought about the health aspects but I have found that after continuous washing at low temperatures, bedding and towels develop a musty or sour smell. A good hot wash seems to restore them back to smelling fresh for a while. I always presumed this was due to a build up of oils, yeasts and bacteria over time.
  • MattMattMattUK
    MattMattMattUK Posts: 8,587 Forumite
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    Happy for others to take risks based on their own research and foot in past but we still use 40oC for the daily washes and 60oC for bedding and we do a monthly boil 90oC clean of the washing machine.
    I would suggest that the solution is probably somewhere in the middle. I wash towels at 60, bedding at 40 and everything else at 20 or 30 depending on what it is. 
    Overkill...maybe....bacteria free......yes.

    Money saving should not decrease health imo.

    The upshot of all this cost of living crisis (detest that term) is that some people have gone too far and may be putting themselves at risk with lack of heating, not heating hot water in invented system enough and washing bacteria ingested items at too cool a temperature to not kill them.
    Generally it is not the heat that kills the bacteria on a 60c wash, generally bacteria do not begin to die from heat until it reaches 65c, ideally higher. The heat is there to help soften and break down the oils from skin and to help remove those, the washing product should then kill and remove the bacteria, something which has been shown to happen even on a cold wash with modern cleaning products. If your aim was to reliably kill bacteria with heat alone then you would need to be using the 90c long cycle.
    However as I said, read the links in this thread, do your own research and make.up.your own mind but don't let others just tell you 20-30oC is fine without the research. 
    By "do your own research" I hope you mean read other published, peer reviewed research? I am not sure many on here have the skill to process bacteria samples and then evaluate the results. :)

    Ultimately though I think people have to do what they feel comfortable with and as it is not something that impacts the rest of us then it does not really matter what people do in the privacy of their own home. 
    Lol yes I don't envisage anyone buying a chemistry set to analyse the results I do mean as you say published, peer reviewed research.
    I think the problem there is that many read actual research, they read something in a newspaper or on FaceAche that has been posted by someone who at best has limited understanding of the research and who often gets it completely wrong. Where people read research and understood it I would be fine with that, where people read click-bait news articles and posts from people who either lack understanding on social media then I take issue. 

    Take your usage, by your own admission it is overkill, but it is also far from extreme, you are not bleaching everything, putting it through an autoclave or even washing it all at 90. You are taking what I (and much of the science) would deem an overcautious approach in some cases, one that might offer no benefit (or might offer benefit), I disagree, but you are not wrong, where as the evidence shows that those who wash everything at 90, or those that wash everything on cold would be wrong.
    Although I am not saying don't buy a my first chemistry set 😂
    It has been many years since I grew things in petri dishes I certainly am not going to start swabbing my laundry! :)
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