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As my house is currently without hot water (heater broken), I am curious if my washer has a heating element to regulate the water temp if what comes out of the pipes is below the cycle required temperature.

I would like to wash some underwear as I have no clean left but would like to use a warm cycle.

I was told that it is OK to use my dishwasher with incoming cold water because the DW has a heating element to regulate the water temp, it will just take longer. But I was wondering if a modern clothes washer will do the same.

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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

It would be rare indeed, and obviously it would matter what your specific brand and model was.

In general, assume no. If you want a warm-water wash with a broken hot water heater, heat up some water on the stove and pour it in as the machine is filling.

On the other hand, you might find that you can get perfectly decent results with cold water.

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yeah, seems like you're right about cold water being as effective: realsimple.com/home-organizing/cleaning/laundry/… –  amphibient Dec 21 '13 at 23:28
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European washers (low water usage models) (typically of the front load variety) can heat water (like some dishwashers).

If you have a US branded model, its doubtful it heats the cold water internally.

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As Ecnerwal says, generally speaking washing machines do not have heaters, but take the hot from the hot water from the hot hose. There are a few European and Korean models that have instant water heaters (which use a lot of current which you may not have) but perhaps due to the massive current demands of instantly heating water, these heaters are often "helper heaters" apparently, for a warm wash, or increase the temperature warm water.

I have not come across word of a washing machine with a non instant water heating method, due perhaps to the problems of having a heating element in the drum with your clothes. Hold on the Frigidaire Affinity has only a 1000W heater. This is low for an instant water heater such as on a shower which tend to have more than 4000 watts to get to typical shower temperatures and pressures. Perhaps the Affinity fills very slowly, or cycles the water through the heater more than once.

In Japan almost everyone washes in cold water, with the exception of those that re-use their bath water while it is still hot. The bath water even if reused, is generally re-used the next morning when it is cold. The Japanese sweat less than Westerners. But if you use a biological washing powder and leave your wash to soak you can have the same effect on organic dirt (such as sweat) as you can in a hot wash, without doing the damage to your clothes that hot washes can do. Hot water tends to damage elastic for instance.

Try a long wash cycle or soak if you have that setting with a biological powder (assuming it does not bring you out in rash :-o ).

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I don't think a society's propensity to perspire has a bearing on their wash temperature - it seems likely that a Tokyo resident in hot and humid August sweats more than a New York City resident in January, but few people change their wash temperature with the seasons. If I had to guess, I'd bet it's the lower energy costs in the USA that keeps many people washing in warm/hot water even when effective cold water detergents are available. –  Johnny Dec 23 '13 at 22:39
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