/ Health, Home & Energy

Washing machines – does washing at 60 really banish bugs?

Washing machine

More than a third of Which? members use the 60°C program on their washing machine regularly. But is 60 the magic number when it comes to keeping bacteria at bay? And do washing machines actually reach 60°C?

We asked our members why they choose to wash at 60°C. More than half use this program to wash items like towels and bedding. These are laundry items that are typically associated with germs and for a long time the wisdom has been that we need to wash laundry at higher temperatures if we want to wipe out bacteria.

Normally, we test washing machines using 40°C programs, as modern washing detergents are effective enough to allow people to use 40ºC for almost all their washing needs. Towels and bedding seem to be the exception, due to the perceived advantages of washing at 60.

But can you rely on your washing machine to reach this temperature? And is 60°C actually high enough to kill bugs and bacteria anyway?

Testing top temperatures

We put 12 washing machines to the test and measured the top temperature they reached during a 60ºC  wash and how long that temperature was maintained. Eight of the machines did not get to 60 degrees at all. The lowest top temperature was 43°C.

Most of the machines kept the water cooler than 50°C for the majority of the program. That’s not exactly what you might expect if you’re using the 60°C wash with the hope of keeping your laundry bacteria-free.

Banishing the bugs

Our test results suggest that a typical 60°C wash can’t be relied upon to kill bacteria, especially if your machine only reaches this temperature for a couple of minutes (or not at all).

We asked a microbiologist for advice about ridding laundry of bugs and he explained that the real key to wiping out bacteria is using a good laundry detergent to wash them away. Detergents are much more effective than they used to be at lower temperatures, so even if your machine doesn’t get to 60°C, a good detergent can remove bacteria and viruses.

I very rarely use a 60°C wash at home. I prefer to be as energy and water efficient as I can and use a fast program that washes at 30°C. I used to wonder if I was taking any chances by not using a hotter wash on things like towels and sheets. Now I know that laundry detergent has a major role to play in bug removal as well as stain removal, I just have to always remember to actually put some in the detergent drawer…

Do you wash at 60°C? Which washing machine program gives you the most peace of mind when it comes to keeping your laundry bug-free?

Comments

Good thinking Em.

So now we have three areas of interest:
1. Cleanliness
2. Hygiene
3. Fabric recommendation as per Ginitex

In the case of 3. this website linked through Ginitex also says:
” Washing at 60 degrees for at least 10 minutes is an easy way to ensure a textile article is hygienically clean. Use, if possible, powder detergent (contains bleacher) or use an additional bleacher.”
http://www.clevercare.info/united-kingdom/recommendations-and-tips

I think there is a problem that there are competing demands for what happens in the wash and these are fabric longevity, cleanliness, and hygiene. Of the three the last is the one that worries me in that we know that the clothing industry can be quite cavalier as to what labels get attached and and it is not clear if at what or any level hygiene is considered in their testing.

Looming behind this is the momentum for using less water and electricity almost on the basis of less is always better. Also mentioned on the site but not something Which? mentions:
” Use a washing machine with warm and cold water extension. The washing machine needs most electricity to heat up the water.” [In English a machine connected to the household H & C]

There has been a movement in the washing machine industry just to provide cold-fill machines and in terms of economical use of power I find this very hard to justify given a cylinder of hot water already heated cheaply. For the manufacturer removing a hot water inlet saves money and the expense of a hot water sensor/mixer.

The ISE machines I have mentioned are hot & cold fill, and on another Conversation, I have read that hot & cold fill machines are more common outside the UK. My old Philips machine is hot & cold fill and uses a decent amount of water for rinsing, which are reasons I am keen to hold on to it.

I couldn’t find a hot & cold fill machine when I went looking. And I don’t have a cylinder of hot water, only a combi boiler. When the hot water feed to where my washing machine is located is opened a lot of water is wasted before it runs hot.

What I would REALLY REALLY like on my washing machine is a sensible on/off device that doesn’t make the house ring like a gong when it decides to turn off the water when filling or rinsing.

That makes perfect sense, though there are still some who would benefit from hot & cold fill.

That “gong” sound is most likely to be water hammer. It’s a plumbing issue and nothing to worry about.

The hot and cold fill problem… if new washing machines could fill with hot water, energy – and money – would be saved heating the water, especially to 60C or above for hygiene reasons.

That “gong” sound might be nothing to worry about but it is very annoying. It stops me running a wash overnight. I’d love to get rid of it.

I find it amazing, but washing machines can go on fire. A firefighter reported that they are a common cause of house fires on an earlier Conversation. Like tumble driers, they should not be left on when out of the house and certainly not when anyone is asleep. It never occurred to me that water hammer could be a safety feature, albeit an annoying one. 🙂

From a French consumer site:

Finally , two-thirds of the electricity consumed by a washing machine is used to heat the water , hence the idea discussed on numerous Internet forums, connect the washing machine to the hot water supply in order to save money if you have a gas water heater or solar . It is not recommended unless your machine is equipped with two water inlets ( Sunny Electrolux , Whirlpool and Bosch EnergySave Green generation , you will find the results in our test). Otherwise , your washing machine rinse with hot water , which reduces the expected economy.

I read that Ariel Gel with Actilift Biological can be used at 15C. I contacted the manufacturers, Procter & Gamble, to ask about keeping a washing machine free from bugs, observing that there is no bleach in the product.

I received a prompt reply that washing at this temperature is effective at cleaning and will remove germs but heavily soiled or germ-laden items should be washed at 60C with a product containing bleach, assuming that the fabric is suitable.

The water temperature has to be ABOVE 60C to really kill germs. I don’t know what temperature above 60C this starts to happen. Given that my washing machine has a 95C setting, this would be the most hygienic wash temperature on my machine. I’m sure most machines can wash at 95C? Obviously that temperature would damage almost anything except tough cotton!

Washing at 60C will not destroy all germs and nasties, but it does remove dust mites; that’s if the washing machine actually washes at 60C. I can’t see how 43C is anywhere close to 60C. I’m glad Which? have discovered that many washing machines are not washing at 60C – but way off the target. Here’s an idea: test the hottest wash cycle and see if that temperature is actually reached.

Some bacteria will survive in boiling springs and bacterial spores will survive even higher temperatures. To be sure of killing all bugs you would need your washing machine to operate at at least 120C under steam pressure. Fortunately, the number of harmful bugs will be greatly reduced at 60C or if a detergent containing bleach is used – or both. It is worth checking that your machine actually reaches 60C, and it is good that Which? has alerted us to the problem of poor temperature control in machines.

Commonsense suggests that contaminated clothing and nappies should be disinfected before being put in a washing machine. A surgeon has to have a sterile gown and anyone with a compromised immune system would do well to take special precautions, but perhaps all the rest of us need to do is to keep our machines free of obvious contamination.

I certainly agree that testing should, as a matter of course, provide us with the actual figures at each claimed wash temperature. In a way I still find it hard to comprehend why these tests were not carried out.

The Which? tests on ovens over the past few years have revealed duff correlation between dialed temperatures and what the temperature actually is in the oven. The idea that washing machines may be similarly afflicted does not seem much of a stretch. I do wonder if manufacturers would have been so cavalier if they knew temperature accuracy was a reported part of the washing machine test!.

As to what actually kills dust mites I do have this research which interestingly looked at 50C which makes me wonder if the 60C figure was just a convenient figure to test at rather than a scientific cut-off point for dust mites. In any event the Beko seems to be THE machine for those were hygiene is important. I understand a lot of nurses and ancillary staff wash their own uniforms so this is an important matter. [see bottom quote for the figures]

“>
> Work by Ainsworth and Fletcher [140] indicates that temperature plays a major role in
> disinfectant action as they showed that the number of organisms surviving washing with
> detergent powder at 30ºC is greater than the number of surviving washing at 50ºC with no
> detergent. Also at 30ºC with a liquid detergent the number of organisms transferred to sterile
> fabric and the wash or rinse waters was higher than at a 50ºC wash with no detergent.”

and one were I remembered to keep the link

” >
> Hotter Is Better For Removing Allergens In Laundry
>
> May 21, 2007 — A new study finds that the heat setting you choose when doing laundry makes all the difference when it comes to killing dust mites. The researchers found that washing laundry in hot water–140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 ºC) or higher–kills all house dust mites, compared with just 6.5% of dust mites in laundry washed at 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 ºC), or warm water.
Hotter water temperatures are also more effective in removing dog dander and pollen, says lead researcher Jung-Won Park, M.D., Ph.D., of Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea.
>
> There is an alternative to washing in hot water that’s also effective, Dr. Park found: washing at a lower temperature (between 86-104° F, or 30-40 ºC), then rinsing the laundry twice with cold water for three minutes each.
>
> In the study, researchers compared allergen levels on cotton sheets after they were washed in various temperature settings. They found that since more pollen was left on the sheets when they were washed in cooler temperatures (86° F, or 30ºC), rinsing the sheets was especially important when using this temperature setting.
>
> The study is being presented at the American Thoracic Society 2007 International Conference, on Sunday, May 20. “Optimal Conditions for Mechanical Laundry in the Removal of House Dust Mites, Dog and Pollen Allergens”(Session A93; Abstract # 2686)
> http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070520183542.htm

P.S.
“Aim To ascertain the provision and decontamination of uniforms within a cross-section of NHS trusts in the UK and to compare policies regarding their use. Method A questionnaire was circulated to 170 NHS trust infection control teams in the UK. Eighty-six (51 per cent) responses were received, which represented 101 NHS trusts. Results Less than half of the trusts (47 per cent) provide adequate numbers of uniforms to allow a clean uniform per shift. Only 26 per cent had adequate on-site staff changing facilities and 65 per cent did not launder uniforms. The majority of nursing staff (91 per cent) were compelled, by a combination of these factors, to launder their uniforms at home. Few were provided with any guidance on how to do this safely. Conclusion There is an urgent need for minimum standards to be set for the provision of uniforms, laundering and changing facilities, to minimise the potential for spread of healthcare-associated infections.”
http://nursingstandard.rcnpublishing.co.uk/archive/article-provision-and-decontamination-of-uniforms-in-the-nhs

According to HSE, disinfection of soiled laundry requires a temperature of 65°C to be maintained for a minimum of 10 minutes or 71°C for 3 minutes.

There are various reasons why we have moved to lower temperatures for washing. The introduction of biological washing powders in the 60s enabled more effective cleaning at lower temperatures and I doubt if the various enzymes now used commercially survive temperatures above 60C. Modern detergents and washing machines are also more effective than older ones (though often not so good at rinsing), and in recent years, the cost of heating water has risen significantly.

I wonder how many people appreciate the need to separate soiled items and either disinfect them or wash them at a higher temperature.

: )
wavechange “Modern detergents and washing machines are also more effective than older ones”.
You mean old washing machines never kept or reached temperature either?!??

Also you previously thanked Which? for bringing it up and to be honest my opinion is that be default a testing regime should be making sure claimed temperatures are reached – and duration.

Em – Did anyone do tests for 30 minutes at 60c? I am hoping to hear from Beko on why they chose the length of time they did for being above 55c but no higher than 60c. It seems a bit daft but the Which? pretty picture by choosing to illustrate only time over 55c has not been as useful as it might have been – though it was pretty shattering in what it revealed.

Perhaps Which? might make available its testing regime requirements and base results as with over a million subscribers the geeky membership must be quite high. I am finding a few ticks or stars does not actually reveal enough detail.

Dieseltaylor

I don’t know how old and new machines compare regarding temperature control. At least Which? has brought to our attention the poor temperature control in machines. It is not something I have seen mentioned elsewhere.

I would love to see much more information about Which? tests, as I’m sure you and Em would. For example, how many examples of each washing machine were tested and how did the temperature control vary between samples? I appreciate that it is out of the question to give means and medians, but knowing the sample size would be useful. I have suggested that additional information could be put on the website because I accept that not everyone is interested in detail and some may just want to know which models have received Best Buy status and are sensibly priced.

Household disinfectant could work. I know disinfectant can be used on clothing and a small amount of it could be added to the wash, but I don’t know if you can safely use disinfectant on all washable fabrics.

http://laundry.about.com/od/laundrybasics/a/disinfectlaundr.htm

“Disinfecting your home laundry can be done inexpensively, easily and without damage to the fabric. Microbiologists at U.S.D.A.’s Textile and Clothing laboratory have identified 4 categories of products which are effective, safe for fabrics and are available in local stores. Use the amount of disinfectant listed on the product’s label.

Pine oil disinfectants, which are effective in hot and warm water. Some brands include Pine Sol, Real Pine, S**c-n-Span Pine and Lysol Pine Action. They should be added at the beginning of the wash cycle. To be effective, the product must contain 80 percent pine oil.
Phenolic disinfectants are also effective in hot and warm water. Lysol brand disinfectant is available in most areas. Phenolic disinfectants may be added to the wash or rinse water, if the rinse water is warm.
Liquid chlorine disinfectants may be used in hot, warm or cold water temperatures. Chlorine bleach should always be diluted with water before adding it to the washer, and should never be poured directly on clothing. It also is not suitable for use on wool, silk, spandex or certain dyed and finished fabrics. Be sure to read the care labels on all items to be washed. Examples of liquid chlorine bleaches include Clorox and all supermarket house brands.
The last category, quartenary disinfectants, is extremely effective in all water temperatures, but is less available than the other products. The Amway company manufactures Pursue, which is specifically formulated for laundry. Label directions should be followed. Many household cleaners contain the effective disinfecting ingredients, but are not recommended for laundry purposes.”

Warm and hot being relative terms the source

Thanks for the post dieseltaylor. I had found this article too and wasn’t sure of the relevance to UK readers, due to many of the brand names being unavailable in Britain and different product formulations by the same manufacturer.

Having raised the problem that most washing machines do not sustain 60°C or even reach 60°C on a nominal 60°C wash I’m interested to see what Which? are going to do about it, apart from raise it with the manufacturers. Not much help if you already have one of these models.

And this completely ignores the fact that it is not possible to wash many modern fabrics at this temperature. Even pure white cotton tends to have elastic that deteriorates rapidly when washed and dried at high temperatures. Underpants and fitted sheets are just two examples of these mixed materials where there may be high levels of contamination.

Further to DT’s American post, I’ve been looking on the Which? website for guidance on detergents or wash additives that have some strong antibacterial action, which can be used when the risk of cross infection is high, e.g. if someone is ill in the family, but I have drawn a blank.

So, come on Which?, you have some more homework to do. If this issue is worthy of a Convo claim, you need to start retesting detergents, not just for their ability to remove stains and whiten clothes, but to kill micro-organisms at today’s normal wash temperatures.

Thanks for these interesting posts about disinfection, Dieseltaylor and Em. I am surprised to see reference to phenolic disinfectants because we were banned from using Lysol in our microbiology labs many years ago. That was disgusting stuff with a smell like creosote, so presumably the domestic product is very different.

Another thing to be considered in supplying disinfectants for laundry use is their effect on the environment. Some of the products sold in antibacterial hand wash are being criticised for this and possible harm to humans.

I do feel that the information provided by Which? could be improved, but they have contributed some very useful information. For example, I had not appreciated that modern washing machines are so poor at achieving the set temperature and there is a big variation in the holding time at that temperature.

I am really surprised at the recommendation to use Ariel Bio at 15C. I wonder if P&G realise that the enzymes in the product will be much less effective than at 40C, for example.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2400567/How-eco-friendly-cool-wash-infest-clothes-GERMS.html

” ‘Higher temperatures clean clothes more hygienically because when the water is hot, the cotton yarns swell up and forcibly release the soiling,’ says laundry expert Dr Richard Neale. As for the current craze for a cool wash, he is emphatic: 30c cycles simply won’t clean your clothes properly.

‘In fact, 30c is actually the temperature in which we incubate bugs to grow them for our experiments,’ he explains. ‘Oily skin sebum — the yellow mark you see on shirt collars and underarms — is a protein and breeds bugs that most detergents won’t kill at such cool temperatures.

‘In order to clean polyester cottons thoroughly, they need to be washed at a minimum of 65c for ten minutes. For pure cottons it is 71c for three minutes, which kills pretty well all viable micro-organisms.

‘If you’re doing a normal family wash and no one has any infectious diseases, this doesn’t really matter. Your family all share germs anyway, and it’s unlikely you’ll get ill. But if one of the household works in, say, healthcare or the catering industry, it’s vital their work clothes are thoroughly cleaned.’

and

” Meanwhile, Dr Ackerley points out the problem of cross-contamination if the wash-setting is not hot enough. ‘I am very concerned about bacteria from underwear transferring on to items such as tea towels which are then used to wipe dishes,’ she says.

So, does this mean that no washing powder will kill these germs?

‘Some products do incorporate a chemical disinfectant which can reduce the amount of bugs in the wash,’ says Dr Neale, ‘but they are rarely available domestically.

Ariel is among the very few brands that does one (Ariel Antibacterial+, £22.50, broschdirect.com). Otherwise you have to go to commercial laundry suppliers to get anything similar. If you have someone ill, elderly or with a low immune system at home, it might be wise to invest in an anti-bacterial detergent.’

If you’re not using an anti-bacterial detergent or a hot temperature, you are relying on simple dilution with water to disperse bugs, says Dr Neale. And this is ineffective.

‘With proper dilution, you can reduce the number of bugs from one million per square inch to around 10-20 per square inch, but in a normal washing process you don’t use nearly enough water. The only way to really kill germs is to wash at a higher temperature.’

lastly for delicates

“While hot washes are undoubtedly better than cool ones, there’s one thing they’re not good at: cleaning delicate fabrics.

Indeed, hot washes will destroy some fabrics such as silk, in which case an antibacterial additive needs to be put in the cooler wash.

Dr Ackerley says: ‘Dettol Disinfectant Liquid claims to kill 99.9 per cent of bacteria at low-temperature washes. And there’s Napisan, a treatment powder for cloth nappies, which I use with other items of clothing, not just nappies.’

Other products that claim to sanitise clothes include Eradicil, Milton Antibacterial Fabric Solution and Halo. ”

Thanks Daily Mail.

If you are wondering about the censorship in the previous post I suspect it is because Which? uses Google of the USA for all its communications:

“S**c is an ethnic slur used in the United States for a person of Hispanic background.” Wikipedia

Please could Which? provide authoritative advice on the following points in the next report on washing machines.

1. How should we keep our washing machines clean, to avoid accumulation of bugs and grease?

2. Assuming that the machine is kept clean, are the detergent manufacturers’ recommendations for low temperature washing safe for normal washing, taking into account that many detergents no longer contain any form of bleach?

3. How should we disinfect soiled items, including bedding, towels and clothing used by someone who is sick and may have an infection?

4. Do those who suffer from allergies (e.g. dust mite) actually need to use a higher temperature or other measures when machine washing?

Here are my own thoughts:

1. A monthly maintenance wash is usually recommended for those washing at low temperatures, but is this frequent enough to ensure that bacteria and moulds do not build up on the inner surfaces of a machine? Bearing in mind that the actual temperature may not reflect the set temperature and this temperature may be maintained for only a short period, what temperature do we need to use for maintenance washes?

2. There is little evidence of people becoming sick because of washing at the low temperatures, so provided that the cleaning performance is adequate and the machine is kept clean, is there any reason for reasonably healthy people to be concerned about washing at lower temperatures?

3. Should the manufacturers of detergents give advice on the packet for disinfection of soiled items, including when there is a case of infection in the home?

4. It has been suggested that removal of dust mites and the allergens that they produce by effective washing is most important, so not overloading the machine and adequate rinsing may be more important than using a higher temperature. Which is more important?

I cannot answer all your queries but at least I can reveal that in the US mites die more easily!

” Water at a temperature of 130 degrees or higher is required for killing
house dust mites. Dry cleaning is an alternative method that may help control
house dust mite”
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/tutorials/allergiestodustmites/id039204.pdf

Which means the Beko cycle is perfect for the job being over 55C for 30 minutes. As we all know 130F being 54.55C.

Now the next question is where Allergy UK got a figure of 60C for 20 minutes. My suspicion is it is convenient rule of thumb that is misleading.

I have been speaking to Allergy UK and find much to my intense surprise that they actually test washing machines themselves. Something Which? failed to mention in its on-line article, or in the magazine.[ In case you had not noticed the two articles differ.]

The person I spoke to was not happy to have this part of the charities work ignored so completely. Which? ‘s aims seem a little hollow:
“We work to make things better for consumers. Our advice helps them make informed decisions”

Ignoring other charities that test what Which does not; seems astonishing. In fact the one line quote from their Deputy CEO without mentioning the Allergy UK tests leaves the impression that they do not test. In reality they do test, and discuss with manufacturers introducing allergy cycles with extra rinsing etc.

Here is a link to their range of tested machines:
http://www.allergyuk.org/products-and-services/listing/laundry-appliances

Not everyone suffers from allergies so the demand may be small but I expect Which? to always broaden the overall knowledge available to subscribers.

I have seen that Allergy UK approves certain washing machines, but have not seen any details of tests, only that they are carried out in ‘independant’ laboratories, which does not inspire confidence. Their website also has information about homeopathy and other questionable treatments. If the charity wants us to take their recommendations seriously, we need information to support them.

Which? could choose to discredit information that may be slight or questionable, or simply to ignore it. I would adopt the latter approach.

I am interested to know why washing machines control temperature as badly as revealed in the Which? tests. I assume that the machines have electronic controls rather than old fashioned thermostats using bimetallic strips.

wavechange – I must admit to grave disappointment in your view. Perhaps you should write to them by e-mail , or even ring them to establish who does the testing and what points they are requested to be tested. I am sure they will be happy to oblige you.

To dismiss their washing machine testing because they mention CAM seems a tad harsh. As you have raised the subject I have looked at this page and to my eyes it seems neutral to dismissive.
http://www.allergyuk.org/the-management-of-allergy/complementary-and-alternative-therapies

I’m sorry if I have disappointed you, Dieseltaylor. I know we are both looking for more information than many consumers, so let’s focus on working with like-minded colleagues to find some answers.

I have revisited the CAM information from Allergy UK and I agree it is neutral to dismissive. That is what I would expect for a newspaper, but I would like to see more critical evaluation from a national charity.

I pay my subscription to Which? and expect them to do research and mention any organisation that they know to hold good quality information. Which? works with other organisations on consumer issues, and this is mentioned in the magazine.

At present, the cleaning performance is the main factor used by Which? in rating the performance of washing machines, and that is what is most important to most people. Hopefully the next review of washing machines will say more about temperature control and allergen removal. Bearing in mind that dust mite allergy is not the mites but their products and that mites need human skin etc to grow, cleaning performance is obviously very important.

Yes lets work to improve Which?! For instance I see the e-book reader specifications still give diagonal screen size as 6mm.

I believe I am correct in stating that Which? use independent laboratories for testing so they therefore must provide what criteria they want measured. One thing that has struck me most forcibly is the lack of intellectual curiosity evident in the article.

For instance the 43C wash for the 60C cycle raises , in my mind at least, what temperatures are the other wash cycles actually recording – is there a consistent 20c drop?

The other point is that Which? need to re-examine the reliance simply on ticks/stars to indicate the results of the testing. In the days when print was a constraint one can understand a simple system, and indeed many may favour it. However I found the graphing of the cycle most instructive and there is no reason why this detail should not be tied to the machine specifications on-line. Those who are interested will love it and others can ignore it. At least it will be proof positive of what cycles ARE tested.

I think the easiest foreseeable upshot if this information had been made available 5 months ago would be a dramatic drop in Hotpoint sales and an increase for those who really got near to 60C.
A desirable out come surely?

We are not alone in calling for more information about products on the Which? website, but though you and I would be very interested in seeing detailed information about temperature performance of washing machines and how this is measured, for example, we are probably in the minority. I expect that a lot more members would be interested in a report on the latest smartphones, and satisfying the intellectual curiosity of the minority is a lower priority. Putting additional information online and making sure that it has been proof read (trivial mistakes annoy me too) undoubtedly has a cost implication.

It is clear that in recent years we have developed a significant problem with bacteria and moulds growing in washing machines. I had only read about the problem until July, when a friend showed me the mouldy door seal of the machine in one of the furnished flats he rents out. He and many more people are now interested in the problem and need good advice, even if they have no interest in the technicalities. I have not heard of anyone becoming ill as a result of the bugs in washing machines, but it is obviously desirable to prevent rather than deal with the problem.

Let us hope that we get good advice from Which? to help us keep our machines bug free and not just washing effectively.

I do wonder at what I see as a problem. How does one adequately test products which have rapid model cycles. Not only that but in some fields the technology in each 6monthly/yearly iteration is markedly higher than previously.

So for smartphones is their ANY hope at relevance of Best Buy other than for a fleeting fraction of weeks. To do a quick first impression is pretty much what hundreds of on-line sites do. I really do think that in a fast moving market with changing price points, model types, and network deals that it verges on the impossible.

The question then is rather than ape all the other review sites is there a niche that Which? can occupy that gives real value. Perhaps there is no useful niche. Perhaps the value lies in testing and recommending apps but when you realise they run into the hundreds of thousands that seems a poor avenue to go down.

After some thought I think Which? would be best served by becoming the directory to sites where specific aspects are dealt with. For instance if you are hard of hearing I assume there is a site that looks into ring tones etc, arthritic hands, poor eyesight, tariffs overseas etc. It may be the RNID do something on what smartphone but if not them who else? The US equivalent perhaps?

You could also include links to all the UK providers in table form, companies that provide insurance, or repairs, or replacement batteries. Having a one stop shop for all these linkages might also reduce the hold the network operators have on their ecosystem.

This also would seem to be cheaper to maintain and more worthwhile than providing 3 minute videos showing the latest device.:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0MefkyU-NE&list=PLB306482F4E81E013

BTW it always seems that Youtube corrupts on my PC no matter which browser I use.

As someone who has completed many of the surveys, I can vouch for the lightweightness of the questions asked, leading to mostly irrelevant reports. Sad really, that 40 years ago Which? would give a car a thorough going over, with loads of statistics and detailed breakdown analyses. They would then never recommend any car with poor reliability.

Now, we get a bland summary of features and an assessment that few of us can believe. Same for phones and tablets these days.

What is with these percentage ratings, anyway? Percentages of what? Is a 90% washing machine an eighth better than an 80% washing machine? Not to mention all that adding of oranges and apples that goes on to arrive at that meaningless percentage!

I came across this site and see how they deal with those who went more in-depth information:
http://www.skepticalscience.com/IPCC-Himalayan-glacier-2035-prediction.htm

This could usefully be adopted by Which?. There is no doubt that site presentation for a smartphone screen or a 20″ monitor really should be different. I am actually very partial to Wikipedia presentation which is information dense rather than pretty pictures consuming large chunks of screen real estate.

Imploded13 says:
4 September 2013

I haven’t been able to use my automatic washer because its been broken for the past 2 months or more. Having to do my washing in the bath and its not good for my arms the bath or the stairs/rotary drier, I cannot wring the water out very well but do a better job than my daughter.
I cannot afford to have the automatic mended and so I am looking to buy a Hoover/Servis Twin Tub. I have been using automatics for about 15 years now and I miss my twin tub.
I must say I think that twin tubs wash the clothes better and use less water. The only downside is you need a sink and tap for the hose and a bit more space for it. I miss my Saturday wash day…taking the clothes out to put in the spin and the bouncing as it tried to go across the room. This was sorted by opening the spin side up and waiting for it to stop and just jiggling the clothes around lol.
I see they still make twin tubs and I like the idea of being able to wash my duvets. At the moment I buy new and give the old ones to my dogs then throw them out (duvets not the dogs).
Automatics are useless at washing duvets they’re just not able to take them unless you buy a really expensive machine that can take more the 8Kgs

We wash mostly at 40 C but towels always go on at 90 C to get rid of the foul smell that appears at lower temperatures.

Instead of 90 C for towels, why not soak them in Dettol and spin dry them? 90 C will damage the cotton.

You mean to replace one foul smell with another? 🙂 Dettol stinks and I understand that it is ineffective at low concentration.

A better solution might be to always wash towels at 60C – assuming that your washing machine achieves this temperature. Dry quickly, in the sun if possible.

There is some hygiene information here:

http://www.thehygienedoctor.co.uk/dont-get-your-knickers-in-a-twist/

See the final tick point: at least one 90 C wash per week.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/10/09/dyson_eu_court_energy_rating/

So not everyone is enamoured of EU testing regimes!. I have been doing more research on the washing process which I need to digest into a coherent hole. The outstanding thing is how the standards for removing stains is being corrupted so that the dialed 60C wash means nothing practical.

As an analogy it is as if there were a EU mpg figure at a nominal 60 mph where the recorded speed is not the actual speed so all car manufacturers are allowed to legitimately claim they meet the MPG figure. The concept that temperatures, times or speeds can be used to mean something they palpably not must be stamped on. The general public likes certainty of what a figure really represents.

A test on the hygienic wash recently was rather stymied when the domestic reference machine was found to get no hotter than 50C which resulted in biofilms being released into the test fabric though the smeared yoghurt culture was cleaned out at 40C and at “60c”.

It is obviously unacceptable to refer to a 60°C wash if the temperature never reaches this value. I doubt that even the Advertising Standards Authority would allow this if complaints were made.

Washing machine and detergent manufacturers need to get together and come up with a solution that will ensure that our machines don’t become heavily contaminated with bugs, exacerbated lack of bleaches in many modern detergents combined with low washing temperatures. In addition to washing performance and energy rating, perhaps we need a hygiene rating.

http://www.ifh-homehygiene.org/factsheet/clothing-household-linens-laundry-and-home-hygiene

Hot of the press the definitive guide to laundering taking into account hygiene. I hope Which? add to what they have already supplied to DEFRA to sort out the lying about wash temperatures reached on a 60C wash.

Incidentally if you consider all the advice given to wash at 60C – garners 6.6million hits – then you can appreciate that for a section of the EU bureaucracy to decide that 60C actually means some significantly lower temperature is positively asking for unhygenic laundering to occur.

I am quite put out by the dishonesty of the covert attempt to make 60C a meaningless figure in an attempt to reduce water and electrical consumption. What makes it even more galling is the new machines that offer to do a 15minute freshening wash to single garments or a tiny load. Perhaps the EU considers these to be a economic use of electricity and water?

The ‘factsheet’ produced by The International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene is 15 pages long and rather short of facts. It annoys me that scientists should publish a document without proof reading it and tidying up the text.

The reason that we have a problem with bugs in washing machines is not just that it has become commonplace to wash at lower temperatures. Detergent manufacturers produce liquid and gel products that lack bleach. Manufacturers of clothing and other fabrics welcome lower temperature washing and detergents without bleach because this helps prevent deterioration and fading.

It is time for the machine and detergent manufacturers to put their heads together in liaison with the fabric manufacturers and work out a way forward. As stated in the ISF ‘factsheet’ there is little evidence of an actual health problem, but it is worth taking precautions. Since ISF has received funding from the companies that make detergents, perhaps their members are in a good position to push for action.

One of the recommendations is: “Once a week or every fifth cycle, use a high temperature wash”
I am glad to see this because I have never regarded the commonly recommended monthly maintenance wash as sufficient to keep a machine free from microbial biofilm. I’m not sure that doing a maintenance wash ‘every fifth cycle’ is useful because machine use is so variable and those machines used frequently are likely to stay cleaner.

wavechange – I thought the washing article was fair , possibly too even-handed, but the use of bleach and the difference temperature makes cannot be hidden. This is the paper for the more geeky of us.

http://www.ifh-homehygiene.org/review/effectiveness-laundering-processes-used-domestic-home-settings-2013

I did not wish to scare people with a 60 page plus monster : ) They also do a splendid article on the norovirus which is quite illuminating. The site has moved recently and some of the hyperlinks are broken in the document.

I note you say proof-reading errors … will you tell them yourself or mention them here so I can forward them on? I recently went on the mailing list and been in discussion on a couple of points.

I was not criticising the article for balance, but do not feel it is particularly useful to the general public. A page or two that outlines the problem and gives practical suggestions is what is needed, in my view.

When I wrote my first paper in the 70s I was taught that it was the authors’ responsibility to ensure that their work was meticulously checked. That was good advice. I sometimes do contact authors when I see more serious errors. The last time was concerning an article about ‘diesel bug’, written for a magazine, by someone who obviously did not know much about microbiology. He thanked me and said that he had paraphrased information from websites, which I had guessed. I chose this example simply because of your username, Dieseltaylor. 🙂 I always wonder why people choose their unusual usernames.

The longer article looks as if it will provide an insight into an interesting subject, so thanks very much for posting the link. The authors should really have defined the abbreviation LR rather than expecting readers to work this out from the context.

Annie says:
26 July 2014

I would like to find a laundry product which, while killing bugs, doesn’t irritate my skin. Are the liquids for sensitive skin any good at cleaning and debugging my bedding andtowels

The AllergyUK site seems to recommend one [ possibly more as I only took a quick look!]
http://www.allergyuk.org/products-and-services/listing

The discussion here is more interesting than the original article but I am confused by the keenness for people to recommend 60 degrees the lowest temperature when so many clothes labels for shirts and underwear and socks for example give a maximum temperature of 40 degrees. To the people who wash regularly at 60 degrees are you ignoring the labels on your clothes and what happens to your clothes if you do?

Chris – Washing temperature is confusing because we now know that the 60C setting does not represent 60°C. 60C is now a measure of washing performance and the actual temperature varies between machines. We still don’t know if lower settings actually refer to temperature.

What is quite certain is that it’s necessary to do a regular maintenance wash at high temperature to prevent the innards of your machine becoming coated with smelly bugs. My ancient washing machine does operate at 60°C but if I had a new one I would use the 90C or 95C setting.

Washing powders generally contain bleach whereas liquids and gels don’t, so you might be best to use powders on at least some of your washes, particularly if someone is ill. Having said that, I don’t know of evidence of home washing machines spreading harmful bugs.

There is useful advice about maintenance washes on the washerhelp website.

Thanks for your reply wavechange. We use powder, or more precisely powder tablets with every wash. I’m nervous, assuming that the temperature does get above 40C on a 60C wash that my max wash temperature 40C clothes are going to be damaged in some way. Shrink or lose colour perhaps. What is your experience of that please?

Sorry Chris, I’m not suggesting that you should stop washing at the recommended temperatures, but the periodic maintenance wash at high temperature is vital to keep your machine clean. Your instruction booklet should have information about this.

If you are using tablets they should contain bleach, which will help remove bugs and help keep the machine clean between maintenance washes. The bleach may fade dark colours, so tablets designed for colours (which will not have bleach) or liquids/gels might be better choice.

I know more about bacteria than fabric care and I wish that the settings on washing machines still corresponded to temperature like they used to. Which? found one machine that reached 43°C on the 60C setting. 🙁

Thanks for the clarification. I had been using tablets with bleach in as I had read that this was a good way to keep the bugs at bay at these relatively low temperatures. Maybe I should consider something different for the sake of the clothes and do more regular maintenance washes. My washing machine of 15 years has just died and we are waiting for the delivery of a washer/dryer soon after Christmas. Now I have a new machine to get to grips with 🙁 It seems all modern machines take an age to do a normal washing cycle so It sounds like a nice step backwards.

By the way, I have done maintenance washes at the highest setting on occasion. I’m just concerned that the keenness for 60C temperature washes for clothes is going to damage garments that have a 40C label on them

I think we are all a bit confused, Chris. There has been a move towards low temperature washing and not everyone has been doing maintenance washes, so their machines have become gruesome and smelly. There is some concern that low temperature washing is leaving too many bacteria on fabrics, particularly if liquids and gels are used instead of powders or tablets, but as I said before there’s little evidence of our washing making us ill and suggest you follow the washing instructions.

I am not sure why the idea of washing clothes at 60C should be coming up. Most people who use this temperature are using it for sheets and towels, and of course fabric nappies. But particularly when illness is about.

In an article on the very common norovirus
” Clothing, bedlinen and towels should be regularly laundered using a laundry cycle which will remove/destroy any pathogenic organisms. Either:
– for preference, wash at 60C or above, using a powder or tablet detergent containing active oxygen bleach (see ingredients on back of pack).
– alternatively wash at 40C with a powder or tablet detergent containing active oxygen bleach (see ingredients on back of pack)
Note: washing at 40C without the presence of active oxygen bleach will not destroy bacteria and viruses”

Unfortunately the EU in an excess of idiocy has arranged the situation currently where 60C does not mean 60C but some temperature of the washing manufacturers choosing which even at its highest point may be for mere minutes in the 40’s C.

As the German testing organisation Stiftung Warentest said this is hardly hygenic temperatures. When making telephone enquiries of John Lewis and Appliances Online neither had any data on machines capable of doing hygenic washes. Which? itself does not provide this info either. A German testing aggregation site does allow the search term and shows around 90 out of 930 machines have hygenic wash cycles. AllergyUK also recommends some suitable machines.

As for the EU it is rather analogous to them having all motor manufacturers have a 60kmh speedometer reading that can be any speed you like provided it reduces emissions and then make great claims on reducing emissions at 60kmh.

A totally bogus achievement based on lying about absolute things like temperature or speed – and trusting the general public not to realise.

This is an interesting reading spot:
http://www.ifh-homehygiene.org

P.S. Incidentally bedbug eggs need 60C to kill them

Menergy says:
30 December 2014

It drives me mad all this talk about germ free this germ free that, are we becoming wimps?
our bodies need to be exposed to bugs so our immune system can fight infection, if we keep sanatizing the way we are how immune system will weaken and in the end stop working like it should, we know this for a fact, people returning from the space station where it’s all most a 100% germ free, have weaker immune systems and have to be shut off from people till their immune system recovers, and lastly how did we manage before wasing machines and hot water, oh yes we washed in the sea,rivers,streams, just a thought.

Menergy I do not disagree with your general point. Germ-free is not something I think anyone claims in this thread. Most of what I have read and posted talks of reductions in nasty bacterias/bugs/allergens/mould spores etc. to less active levels.

And mainly it is the weak, young and infirm where you have to take the greatest care of as their immune systems may not be up for fighting germs.

The IFH link I posted above has a very interesting 80 page article on various nasties being spread in various wash situations, and some of these examples are from more primitive countries.
I am pretty darn healthy so I can afford to look at it as an interesting situation. Some parents must be going ape over protecting their children from allergens – the increase in allergies being a very great area of growth in modern Western society.

Menergy says:
30 December 2014

Just a thought on top of this topic, I think all this germ washing warfare is just hype by the washing powder makers to make us spend money on stuff we don’t need, my ol gran never had this brain washing by washing powder makers, she just used what she had, carbolic soap anyone?