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Is it ok to wash clothes that are marked to be washed in e.g. 40 degrees in regular cycle but instead wash in the cycle for sensitives/delicates/hand-wash (or even synthetics) (30 degrees or cold water) with the soap for such cloths?
Would it affect the clothes? Or should they be washed as per the relevant indication on the item only?

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  • Asking if something works isn't a lifehack. You should state a problem and seek a solution.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Aug 14, 2022 at 9:15
  • @Chenmunka this isn't the OP's fault. They posted it on other site, where it's also off topic, and users there suggested (wrongly) to post here. Sadly, local moderator also took their side and did the migration. :/ Commented Aug 14, 2022 at 14:03
  • @ShadowTheKidWizard I realize that. I just leave it as a comment in case the OP wishes to edit the post accordingly
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Aug 14, 2022 at 14:08
  • In the widest sense, I consider deviating from the manufacturer’s care label while still getting the desired results (= clean clothes) a lifehack. If the community disagrees, I will delete my answer, no bad feelings.
    – Stephie
    Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 5:59

2 Answers 2

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It's an energy optimization problem:

If you use the gentle cycle, the machine will use a low RPM spin dry, so the clothes will come out soggy.

If you hang them outside to dry in the summer, no problem.

If you dry them in a dryer, you will need more energy to evaporate the extra water.

If you hang them inside to dry, you will get more humidity inside your house, and need more ventilation to avoid mold, which costs more in heating.

I have seen an appartment completely destroyed because the tenant used low rpm spin dry on the washer, hung the clothes in the middle of the living room, and cut off the ventilation because in the winter "it lets the cold in". All the wood had swelled up to the point the windows couldn't be opened, and the paint was a smorgasbord of multicolored mold. Thankfully, it wasn't one of mine.

Besides that, the clothes don't care.

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  • So if the clothes come out soggy that is because of the excess water. Would that affect their shape/form during drying?
    – Jim
    Commented Aug 13, 2022 at 17:08
  • If there is no ventilation available, is there another way to avoid the issue of more humidity in the house? By the way, I am not asking so I only wash clothes in gentle cycle, but for specific clothes I want to make sure they get the best treatment possible for maintainance
    – Jim
    Commented Aug 13, 2022 at 17:10
  • That problem is what dehumidifiers are for. In fact, a dehumidifier + a tumbler is what the new heat pump dryers are. Commented Aug 13, 2022 at 18:44
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    You can do an extra centrifuge cycle if the low temp / delicate program leaves them too humid. The asker is inquiring about non delicate clothes, so they should be just fine getting an extra spin.
    – MiG
    Commented Aug 15, 2022 at 12:13
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A washing machine works with a combination of mechanical and chemical processes: The machine agitating the fabric, causing it to rub against the rest of the load, and the detergent facilitating the separation of dirt and fabric, higher water temperature will speed up that process.

It will not harm your clothes to be washed on a gentler or cooler cycle. In fact, modern detergents are designed to be effective at cold temperatures too, as are modern washers. Many environmentalists also recommend lowering the temperature of the cycle because heating up the water costs most energy (unless your washer is connected to both the hot and the cold tap, which is rather rare).

Consider the temperature and washing intensity on the care label as the upper limit of what the manufacturer assumes the item can withstand without damaging the garment. It’s like a speed limit: don’t exceed it, going below is fine.

You also want to consider how dirty your clothes really are. Most of us don’t come home with really soiled clothes, the average office-dweller mostly has to deal with some sweat, skin particles (think inside of a shirt collar), small amount of residue from rubbing against not-so-clean surfaces and perhaps the occasional coffee or food stain. For lightly dirty clothes, a gentle cycle will usually be enough and can even prolong the lifetime of your garments. Do not forget to pre-treat stains, especially if you are using cool and gentle settings. This small extra effort pays off if you can save on water and energy.

However, if you notice that your clothes don’t come out as clean as you want, or you have really dirty clothes (think kids on a playground or garden work), you need to amp up the action a bit, using a stronger cycle (regular vs. gentle), heat up the load (depending on the care labels) and perhaps use a harsher detergent (although in my experience the difference is small, often the formulas differ mainly in the stain-remover components).

Most manufacturers also recommend that you run the occasional “hot” load, because it’s designed to kind of “clean the machine” on the side, the same as some machines have a “machine clean” or similar setting.

So in short, a “hack” would be

Pre-treating the stains and washing in a gentler and cooler cycle should pretty much equal a regular load in warmer water, at least for lightly dirty clothes.

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