Much like Goldilocks trying to find the perfect temperature of porridge, many of us struggle with finding just the right temperature of water to use. Those temperatures often vary from activity to activity. While some people enjoy hot showers, others prefer cold ones. Some wash their fruits and veggies in lukewarm water, while others use cold water. It bids the question – are there certain water temperatures we should be using for certain tasks? We did the research.

Never second-guess water temperatures again. Check out the following activities and corresponding recommended water temperatures.

Showering + Washing Your Hair

Who doesn’t love a nice hot shower, with the steamy warmth of water cascading over you and warming you up from head-to-toe? The trouble is that hot showers (anything above 99 degrees1) can dry out your skin and leave your hair feeling brittle! The hot water can also strip your skin of natural oils and may trigger inflammation2. The solution to this isn’t necessarily to opt for a cold shower either. In fact, anything below the average temperature of 96 degrees can harness negative effects of its own. This means that you’re left with a healthy, happy, medium – warm, with a cold rinse at the end of your shower3, which is what you should aim for.

Drinking Water

Over the years, there has been quite a debate over whether it’s best to drink room temperature water or cold water. Well, the fact of the matter is, each side has its benefits. Here’s why:

Benefits of Drinking Warm Water

  • Our core body temperature typically sits at 98 degrees. When we feel hot after working out or being in hot temperatures, our body craves cold water. However, drinking cold water to cool off may actually have the opposite effect, causing our body to work harder to “normalize” the temperature of the water, resulting in raising our body temperature.4 In this situation, drinking room temperature water may be best.
  • Having some tummy trouble? Warm water has been found to help aid in digestion by flushing fats out and promoting healthy bowel movements,5 unlike its cold water counterpart which can harden fats consumed around the inner wall of our intestines and may cause constipation.6
  • Warm water has also been known to help ease cramping and indigestion symptoms.7
  • Looking to detox? Drinking hot water may help.8 Hot water can help cause the body to sweat which helps flush out toxins and aids in the detox process.

Benefits of Drinking Cold Water

  • Before you completely discount drinking cold water, it does have its benefits. For example, when the body is working hard trying to warm up after cold water is consumed, this causes he body to burn more calories9, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
  • Quite simply: many people agree that cold water tastes better. It’s crisp, refreshing and thirst-quenching. If you find yourself struggling to drink the recommended 8 cups a day10 you may want to try giving cold water a shot.

Washing the Dishes

The hotter, the better! The water temperature should be uncomfortable for bare hands (invest in some rubber gloves to protect your hands when washing). Ideally, the water temperature should be at 110 degrees Fahrenheit11 to help kill bacteria and assist in cutting through tough built up grease.

Dishwasher Temperature

According to GE Appliances, “Water entering the dishwasher must be at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit and not more than 150 degrees Fahrenheit for the best cleaning and to prevent damage to the dishes.”12

Bathing Your Baby + Washing Your Dog

When you have something as precious as a newborn baby, you want to do everything in your power to take care of it. So, when it comes to bath time, what temperature is just right? According to an article put out by the Mayo Clinic, they suggest aiming for bath water around 100 F (38 C) and ensuring the room is comfortably warm too.13

Does this mean man’s best friend should be bathed in the same temperature water too? Pets are sensitive to hot and cold water, so to avoid the shock value, keep the water temperature at a lukewarm level.14 This will help ensure a comfortable experience for them and may even increase the effectiveness of the shampoo.15

Brushing Your Teeth

Cold water seems like the preferred way to go, but if you have sensitive teeth, lukewarm water may help with that. This one is really up to personal preference, so go for what feels most comfortable to you! However, Richard H. Price, a spokesman for the American Dental Association, did warn about water being too warm, potentially softening toothbrush bristles.16

Watering Plants

Have you ever thought the reason your outdoor and indoor houseplants kept dying was simply that you were born without a green thumb? Think again. Premature plant death is often caused by over-watering, but when you do need to water your plants, what temperature should the water be? Try allowing the water to reach room temperature before watering your greens.17

!! TIP: “Allowing tap water to warm up to room temperature also allows water additives to evaporate or settle out in the water. These additives can cause the browning of plant leaf tips. The prolonged use of water from a softener usually results in poor plant growth.”18

Washing Your Hands

Administration guidelines for food and restaurant establishments recommend that plumbing systems should deliver water at 100 degrees Fahrenheit. However, in a recent article published in Time Magazine, researchers at Rutgers University “found no significant difference in cleaning power between water that was 60, 79 or 100 degrees Fahrenheit.”19 The real takeaway here is to make sure to always wash your hands!

Washing Clothes

Hot water is best left for whites and heavily dirtied clothes, but a word for the wise: hot water may shrink, fade and even damage some fabrics.20 Make sure that you’re reading fabric labels to ensure you won’t be ruining the clothing.

Warm water is best when washing knits, jeans, and other man-made fibers.21 Most clothes can be washed in warm water (roughly 90 degrees Fahrenheit) without significant shrinking or fading occurring.

As for cold water washing, leave that for dark, bright colors, and delicates.22 However, when washing with cold water you may need to pre-treat or pre-soak clothes if they are heavily soiled.

Brewing Teas

White Tea

White tea should be brewed at a low temperature, so as not to burn the tea leaves. A helpful tip would be to use water once tiny bubbles have formed on the bottom of the pan.23

Green Teas

Much like white tea, it’s best to brew green teas at a lower temperature as well. This can help prevent a bitter or grassy flavor from overpowering your tea.24 A tip offered by The Spruce online suggests waiting until tiny bubbles have formed on the bottom of the pot and begin rising to the surface of the pot.

Oolong Tea

Time to turn up the heat. For oolong tea, a higher temperature will not damage the tea. It’s suggested that brewing between 190 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit is the sweet spot.25 Bubbles should be slightly larger in size as opposed to brewing white or green tea, with a good amount of steam escaping the pot.

Black Tea

Depending on the type of black tea you are drinking, either moderate and high temperate water may be used. For more delicate black teas, brew as you would an oolong. For heavier black teas, it is fine to bring the temperature up to just under a boil.26 You will notice large bubbles and plenty of steam.

Pu-erh Tea

Boil, baby, boil! It’s suggested that pu-erh tea should be brewed with fully boiling water.

Herbal

Depending on the plants being used, the water temperature for brewing herbal tea varies widely.27 Check what’s best for your specific herbal tea in order to yield best results.

Brewing Coffee + Espresso

Straight from the National Coffee Association themselves, your brewer should maintain a water temperature between 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit for optimal extraction.” Cold water can result in under-extracted coffee, which may cause the coffee to taste flat. On the other hand, brewing too hot can impact the quality taste of the coffee.28

As for brewing that special shot of espresso, there are multiple claims that various temperatures are “best” for securing that perfect espresso shot. There doesn’t seem to be enough evidence to prove one temperature outshines another, so go rogue, espresso lovers of the world.

Cooking

Baking Bread

Time to bake the bread before you start breaking it. When activating the yeast for the bread, make sure that it is done so in 120 to 130 degree Fahrenheit water. Anything over 130 degrees can kill the yeast, and anything lower than 120 degrees can make the dough hard to work with.28

Thawing Meats

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, cold water thawing is a completely acceptable way to thaw meat as long as you follow a few safety guidelines. Completely submerge the bag of meat in cold tap water, changing out the water every 30 minutes to keep it cold and allowing the meat to continually thaw.29

Mopping Floors

Cold water is said to work best for mopping floors, because cold water dries slower and evenly on the floor’s surface, which may help prevent smears and streaks from forming.30

Washing Produce

When washing fruits and veggies, the water should be no more than 10 degrees colder than the produce.31 As long as you make sure you’re scrubbing and sufficiently cleaning the produce in hand, tap water should be an efficient way to get produce clean and ready to prep/consume.

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Sources:

  1. Almanza, Aubrey. “The Healthiest Temperature for Your Shower.” Reader’s Digest, 21 Nov. 2016, rd.com/health/wellness/healthiest-temperature-shower/.
  2. Ibid
  3. Ibid
  4. “Are You Drinking Water at the Right Temperature?” Guided Mind, www.guidedmind.com/blog/are-you-drinking-water-at-the-right-temperature.
  5. Ibid
  6. Ibid
  7. Ibid
  8. Ibid
  9. Ibid
  10. Gunnars, Kris. “How Much Water Should You Drink Per Day?” Healthline, Healthline Media, 18 Aug. 2016, www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-much-water-should-you-drink-per-day.
  11. “Kitchen Sanitation: Dishwashing Best Practices.” com, www.universalclass.com/articles/business/kitchen-sanitation-dishwashing.htm.
  12. Dishwasher Correct Water Temperature, products.geappliances.com/appliance/gea-support-search-content?contentId=18924.
  13. “A Parent’s Guide to Newborn Baths.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 25 Oct. 2016, mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/healthy-baby/art-20044438?pg=2.
  14. “PetMD, LLC.” PetMD, www.petmd.com/dog/grooming/evr_multi_bath_time_fun.
  15. “20% OFF Drs. Foster and Smith Brand Products   Shop Now ›.” Doctors Foster and Smith, drsfostersmith.com/pic/article.cfm?articleid=735.
  16. Ray, C. Claiborne. “The Truth About Brushing.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 29 Apr. 2013, nytimes.com/2013/04/30/science/should-we-use-hot-water-to-brush-our-teeth.html.
  17. Watering Houseplants, ag.ndsu.edu/hort/info/inform/indoor/water.htm.
  18. Ibid
  19. “Why You Should Wash Your Hands in Cold Water.” Time, Time, time.com/4800412/wash-hands-cold-water/.
  20. “Washer Water Temperature Guide.” WASH Laundry, 17 July 2014, washlaundry.com/residents/laundry-tips/temperature/.
  21. Ibid
  22. Ibid
  23. “Find the Right Water Temperature for Brewing Any Type of Tea.” The Spruce, www.thespruce.com/how-to-brew-tea-water-temperatures-766316.
  24. Ibid
  25. Ibid
  26. Ibid
  27. Ibid
  28. “The Perfect Water Temp For…Everything!” Prevention, 11 Feb. 2016, prevention.com/health/healthy-living/the-best-water-temperature-for-everything/slide/9.
  29. “FSIS.” The Big Thaw, www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/safe-food-handling/the-big-thaw-safe-defrosting-methods-for-consumers/CT_Index.
  30. HARO Quality flooring – Hamberger Flooring GmbH & Co. KG., Rosenheim, Germany. All rights reserved. “HARO – FAQ – Find out How to Mop Your Floor without Streaks and Smears by Using Clean & Green – Hamberger Flooring GmbH & Co. KG.” HARO Quality Flooring – Hamberger Flooring GmbH & Co. KG., Rosenheim, Germany. All Rights Reserved., www.haro.com/gb/accessories/care_accessories/faq.php.
  31. https://extension.colostate.edu/docs/pubs/foodnut/09380.pdf

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