Most white clothing should be washed in hot water, although there are some instances - such as in the case of delicates, and certain fabric types, when warm or cold water may be more appropriate. Hot water is often the best choice for cleaning heavily stained and soiled clothing, and many people prefer hot water and bleach for washing their white clothing items, towels and sheets.

Regardless of color, laundry should be sorted based on the manufacturer's instructions. Most washable items have a tag with these instructions, which include information on optimal water temperature settings, and drying instructions. Also included are any other special recommendations for the item, such as "do not bleach" or "wash with like colors only".

For stained clothing, knowing the type of stain can also make a difference in whether to choose hot, warm, or cold water. Some temperatures work better than others, depending on the type of fabric and the type of stain, so failing to make the proper choice can cause some stains to become permanent.