Stain-removal cheat sheet: When to use hot vs. cold water


Stain-removal cheat sheet

Related Articles

Remember that time you spilled red wine on your white pants? When clothing stains happen, the temperature of the water you use can be the difference between a permanent blemish and a quickly forgotten mistake.

But when do you choose hot, and when should you choose cold? Here’s a breakdown of the best temperature for a few common stains:


When should you use cold water?

On food

Common stain culprits like cheese, chocolate, jelly and mustard should be cold-water only. If you rinse immediately, the cold water should rinse out the stain and dry pretty quickly. It will be like it never happened!


On beverages

Easily spilled cups of coffee, tea, juice, milk and that Merlot on your white pants need cold water, too. Cold water will put a hammer to those bad boys.


On blood

If you end up with some blood on your clothes, a cold water rinse or soak should do the trick.


On water-based paint

Fight water with water, folks. Anything water-based should come out with a cold water rinse.


When should you use hot water?

On gum

If your gum drops on your clothes, running the fabric under hot water should help separate the gum from the fabric. Tip: Use a butter knife to lightly pry the gum away from the fabric.


On dye

Add one cup of white vinegar to a hot water cycle in your washing machine. This trick will also combat clothing dye if garments bleed onto each other.


On egg

Egg protein will separate from fabric with hot water. Use about a tablespoon of dish detergent and, if necessary, a sponge or clean toothbrush to get all of the protein off. Then, wash the fabric in the washing machine on a normal cycle.


On lotion

Lotion should be removed with hot water. It’s best to apply a few drops of stain remover or laundry detergent directly to the problem area and scrub it out. Then wash the item in the hottest setting that is recommended.


BrightNest is a free site that provides customized tips and tools to help homeowners save money, get organized and keep their homes in great shape.