In a domestic situation, the jury is no longer out on whether hot or cold washing is best. The consensus, backed up by laboratory testing of modern detergents, is that for general household washing, good results can be had using cold water and detergent. The only exceptions are for clothes that are work soiled, or clothes, linen or towels that have been exposed to bacteria.
Householders Choose Cold over Hot, Circumstances Permitting
Cold water washing has been made possible by advances in the composition of detergents, and improvements in the efficiency of both top load and front load washing machines. It is still important to separate badly soiled or stained items, and use stain-removal techniques and pre-wash soaking options to get the best results. Hot water is essential to kill bacteria, so any items exposed to germs should be washed separately at high temperatures.
Is it This Easy for Commercial and Industrial Laundries?
So, is this the same situation in a commercial or industrial laundry? There is no definitive answer to this question, simply because of the range of variables involved. For the local laundromat with a few coin-operated washing machines, whose customers fall mostly into the domestic category, the decision regarding washing temperature falls with the user.
In large laundries processing clothing and linen from hospitals, nursing homes, hotels, motels, manufacturing and industrial facilities, the range of items moving through the laundry process is very diverse. The product has also been exposed to many different contaminates including oil, grease, medical and dental waste, blood and food waste among others.
This is the area we work in as a supplier of commercial and industrial laundry equipment and associated products such as dryers, ironers and folders. NLE Commercial also offers our clients maintenance and breakdown services provided by our team of trained and certified electrical technicians.
Large Laundries Guided by Australian Standards
For this group of clients, leaving the decision to wash either in hot or cold water up to an individual staff member would not satisfy the requirements of the Australian/New Zealand standard in Laundry Practice. The standard consolidates the point we have already made about the diversity of the product that goes through any large laundry on any given day.
Assume the Worst
For this reason, all soiled articles must be assumed to be contaminated and a potential source of infection. The application of the processes described in the standard starts with correct transportation equipment, followed by collection, loading, storage and sorting, through the actual laundry operation to the storage and packaging of cleaned linen.
No Simple Answer
As you can see, this is not as simple as choosing between a hot or cold wash, with many other decisions to be made before the cleaned linen is returned to the client.