Can You Wash Towels in Cold Water? Find the Answer

Do you always use hot water to wash your towels? You may be surprised to find out that it’s perfectly fine to wash towels in cold water. In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of washing towels in cold water and the steps you can take to make sure your towels come out clean.

With the right techniques, cold water washing can help towels last longer and save you money on utility bills.

Can You Wash Towels in Cold Water?

Yes, you can wash towels in cold water. Although most people usually use warm water for washing, using cold water is a good way to clean towels and has several benefits.

Cold water washing is gentler on fabric fibers and helps towels maintain their soft, fluffy texture. Plus, it saves money on energy bills. Cold water is also better for preserving colors and fabrics, preventing them from fading too soon. By using the right detergent and laundry methods with cold water, your towels can still be fresh, clean, and vibrant.

The Correct Temperature to Wash Towels

When it comes to laundry, cold water is generally between 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Washing in cold water can save a significant amount of energy and money compared to using hot water. It also helps towels last longer without damage.

Benefits of Washing Towels in Cold Water

There are several excellent benefits such as:

  • Saves energy and money – Washing in cold water can reduce the energy used for laundry by 60% to 90% compared to hot water cycles. This leads to significant savings on utility bills over time.
  • Helps towels last longer – Excessive heat from hot water can degrade fibers over time. Cold water preserves the softness and extends the lifespan of towels.
  • Prevents fading and shrinking. Hot water increases the chances of towels fading, shrinking, or becoming misshapen. The cold water is gentler on fabrics.
  • Better for the environment – By skipping hot water, your washing machine uses less electricity or natural gas, which cuts down on fossil fuels and benefits the environment.
  • Cleans effectively – With a good detergent, cold water can lift dirt and stains from towels just as effectively as hot water.

Steps for Washing Towels in Cold Water

Washing towels properly in cold water takes a few special steps:

  • Check care instructions – Look at fabric care labels to see if there are any warnings about cold water or special wash instructions.
  • Use a mild, cold water detergent – Harsh detergents won’t dissolve well in cold water. Choose a gentle, liquid detergent made for cooler temperatures.
  • Wash towels separately – Towels often leave behind lint and fibers. Washing them alone prevents lint transfer to other laundry.
  • Wash cycle – Use the normal cycle on your washing machine.
  • Add an extra rinse – Eliminate detergent residue by adding a second rinse to the wash cycle.
  • Shake before drying – Before drying, shake towels well to remove any fuzz.
A person putting dirty towels in washing machine

When to Wash Towels in Cold Water

Cold water washing works best for:

  • Lightly used and minimally soiled towels
  • Delicate towels and fabrics
  • Towels with vibrant, colorful dyes or patterns

Cold water is great for towels that aren’t very dirty. It helps remove dirt and oils without harming the fabrics. This method is also safe for soft towels and brightly colored ones that might fade.

When to Avoid Washing in Cold Water

There are times when using cold water is not recommended for washing:

  • Heavily soiled towels – Cold water does not effectively remove heavy soils like grease, oil, and body oils.
  • Shared Towels – When towels are used by multiple people, it’s better to use hot water for better sanitization.
  • Gym towels – It’s important to disinfect towels used in public areas.
  • White towels with stubborn stains – Cold water might not be effective in removing and lifting stubborn stains.

It’s important to note that washing towels in hot water (above 120°F) is more effective in killing germs and bacteria compared to cold water. This is especially important for towels used by multiple people, as hot water helps prevent the spread of illnesses.

Other Laundry You Can Wash in Cold Water

Many laundry items and fabrics hold up well when washed with cold water:

  • Sheets and pillowcases
  • Undergarments and socks
  • Jerseys, athletic apparel, and workout clothes
  • Blankets, comforters, and duvets labeled “machine washable

Look at the washing instructions on your clothes, but in general, modern clothing and fabrics are made to be washed with cold water.

Drying Towels Washed in Cold Water

Women Drying towels

You can dry towels in the dryer or by air drying. Here’s what to do:

In the dryer:

  • Use low heat to avoid shrinking or damaging the fibers.
  • Remove towels promptly when dry to prevent mildew growth.

Air drying:

  • Hang towels on a clothesline or drying rack in a well-ventilated area.
  • Direct sunlight can fade colors, so consider placing towels in the shade if needed.
  • Shake towels occasionally to help them dry faster.

Remember, cold water washing helps keep towels soft and fluffy, while the drying method is up to you!


In short, washing towels in cold water is a good idea that has lots of advantages beyond just saving energy and money. If you use the right detergent and drying technique, you will keep your towels clean, soft, and fluffy, and it will make them last longer. Give it a try and see your towels do well with this easy change in your laundry routine!

Additional Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Should towels be washed in hot or cold?

Towels can be washed in either hot or cold water. Hot water helps remove oils, bacteria, and other grime. But cold water washing works well too if you use a detergent made for cold water. It saves energy and helps towels last longer.

What is the best water temperature to wash towels?

The ideal washing temperature for towels is warm or hot water around 105-140°F. This sanitizes towels and removes odors and stains. But cold water around 60-80°F can also clean towels well with extended soaking and rinsing.

Is hot or cold water better for smelly towels?

Hot water is better for washing smelly towels. The heat helps release and rinse away organic material like sweat, body oils, and dead skin cells that cause odors. Hot water also sanitizes towels better.

Why do towels need to be washed in hot water?

Warm water cleans towels by getting rid of bacteria and germs that accumulate from everyday use. The heat helps eliminate body oils, leftover substances, and stubborn stains. Regularly washing towels in warm water prevents the growth of mold and mildew, ensuring a thorough cleaning process.


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