How to Get Bacteria Out of Laundry

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Getting bacteria out of clothing can be challenging, and laundry detergent does not always eliminate germs or bacteria. Using vinegar, baking soda and pine oil are effective additions to the regular soap and water and can remove not only bacteria, but dirt and oils that harbor germs in clothing. Bacteria can manifest in clothing from individuals who have illnesses, so it is essential that proper cleaning take place in order to prevent others from catching the same illnesses.

Things You'll Need

  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • Laundry detergent
  • Baking soda
  • Pine oil
  • Disinfectant spray
  • Cleaning laundry requires that washing machines have enough water in the load to thoroughly kill off bacteria. Leave enough room in the washer for the water to be able to adequately wash away dirt and bacteria without overcrowding it. Set the water level control on an appropriate level according to the size of the load.

  • Place clothing in washing machine and set the water temperature to hot. Hot water temperatures remove more dirt and kill more bacteria than cooler temperatures. If possible, clean laundry in soft water because it does not have mineral deposits like hard water, which can work against laundry detergent in removing dirt and oils.

  • Add desired laundry detergent as described on product label. Laundry detergent cannot alone, clean clothes and remove soil and dirt residue. It is recommended that laundry detergent be used in combination with ¼ cup of vinegar to effectively dissolve bacteria.

  • Pre-treat laundry that has been exposed to germs and bacteria with baking soda. According to a 2000 study by the Good Housekeeping Institute, both baking soda and vinegar work as a disinfectant. Vinegar and baking soda can kill 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of mold and 80 percent of infectious viruses when used on laundry.

  • On white clothing, use liquid chlorine bleach containing at least 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite as it can destroy several types of bacteria. Pine oil, or phenolic disinfectants, can be safely used on any washable fabrics, especially if clothing are exposed to individuals who are ill.

  • Clean washer thoroughly after three washing cycles to remove bacteria left from laundry in washing machine. Wipe off the surface of the machine with a disinfectant, and then spray a disinfectant solution on the insides of the washing machine. Wipe clean.

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