Most mainstream detergents can be used with any temperature water, but warm-hot water will outperform cold. See Hot vs Cold Water for more information on water temperates.
Surfactants are the chemicals in laundry detergents that actively remove soiling from fabrics. Different detergents contain different amounts of surfactants. It is important to use enough surfactants to remove all the dirt. Use the amount of detergent advised on the package for a heavily soiled load (sometimes described as large load/hard water) in main wash, and around half of that in prewash.
For exact detergent quantities and recommended wash temperatures refer to our country specific Detergent Indexes.
For more information on what is in detergents and the function of the raw materials see Fragrance in Detergent, Enzymes, Optical Brighteners, Plant based, Sensitive & ‘Eco’ Detergents pages and The Wash Wise Detergent Ingredients Info Sheet.