Your clothes may come out of the washer looking stain-free and smelling fresh, but does that always mean they’re clean? Sadly, no….
Laundry detergent manufacturers often run commercials encouraging consumers to wash with lukewarm or even cold water to lower energy costs. While this may be smart from an economic or even environmental standpoint, it won’t necessarily kill pathogenic microorganisms.
Most of us associate washing machines with cleanliness, yet studies show that a normal load of laundry can contain up to 100 million E. coli bacteria! Germs can also spread from one article of clothing to another in the wash. In other words, if a sick person washes his or her clothes with those of other family members, any existing bacteria and viruses could end up on everyone else’s clothing (germs on one article of clothing can spread to more than 90% of other articles)!
Pro tips and advice
- To avoid cross-contamination, never wash underwear with other clothing.
- To get rid of fecal germs, wash clothing in water hotter than 60o
- Dry clothes in the dryer for at least 30 minutes at high heat as soon as possible once the wash cycle has ended. This will help to kill germs, which grow rapidly in damp environments.
- Wash sheets separately to prevent other articles from becoming entangled in them. Avoid overfilling the tank, as sheets need lots of space to be thoroughly cleaned.
- As ridiculous at it may seem, regularly “wash your washer.” Use disinfection wipes to clean the entire surface of the tank, the rubber ring around the door and even the exterior of the machine.
- Once a month, run a wash cycle with an empty load using a bleach-based detergent to destroy bacteria and fungi.