The 60°C wash setting on washing machines frequently doesn’t actually reach 60 degrees, Which? testing has discovered.
We tested the 60°C cotton programs of 12 washing machines to find out the highest temperature reached and how long the top temperature is maintained. Eight of the 12 machines did not reach 60 degrees at all, with the lowest top temperature being 43°C on the Hoover DYN8163D8P-80.
Most of the washing machines kept the water cooler than 50°C for the majority of the wash program.
To see the full results of our testing, check out our guide to whether it’s worth washing at 60°C.
Cleaning up the myths
Which? washing machine expert Adrian Porter said: ‘For years, the conventional wisdom has been to use the 60°C program to make sure your laundry comes out squeaky clean and free of bugs and bacteria.
‘But while a 60°C wash does generally do a slightly better job of cleaning than at 40°C, the temperature of the water won’t actually kill all bacteria, even if your machine is one of the models that reach 60°C. The real key to wiping out bacteria seems to be using a good laundry detergent to wash them away.’
We found that while a 60°C wash cleans slightly better than a 40°C wash, it also increases running costs by 57% on average.
Are washing machine manufacturers cheating?
Even though we found machines often didn’t hit 60°C, manufacturers are not actually cheating the EU energy labels because there’s no requirement for the washing machine to reach the temperature stated on the control panel.
Without that requirement, manufacturers can, in theory, not heat the water as much to save on energy costs and improve their ratings.
As the guidelines are currently so relaxed, we think the energy label is not a transparent and fair way to compare washing machines. We’ll be meeting with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which oversees the energy label in the UK, to present our evidence about washing machine temperatures.
- Find out how we test washing machines
- Read our guide to washing machine programs
- Discover our laundry detergent Best Buys