My laundry tips

Why is germ-free laundry important? 

Most of the time, it is not important to kill every germ in your laundry. We have all been living with bacteria in our clothes our entire lives and most of us are perfectly fine. In fact, we have lots of good bacteria living in our skin all of the time. Much of the bacteria in our clothing is probably harmless bacteria from our skin. I am in no way suggesting that we all need to bleach (and ruin) all of our clothes. Nor am I suggesting that we need to kill all the germs in our lives and live in a bubble. Even though we need to accept that our laundry has germs, there are a few occasions where being able to get laundry really clean would be helpful. For example, the bacteria in the cloth that you used to wipe up raw chicken, is unlikely to be good bacteria. Germs in your underwear when you have a stomach bug are going to be bad germs. If someone in your house has a contagious stomach bug and you are washing vomit covered laundry, it would be nice if you could get the germs out of that laundry. Otherwise, the "clean" laundry will still contain the virus and it will spread to other members of the house. Also, if you are having recurrent infections such as vaginal infections, staph infections, or athletes foot, you might want to consider using chlorine bleach in your underwear/sock load and see if it helps get rid of those infections. Hospitals and nursing home laundry needs to be sterilized or they will have outbreaks of c.diff, staph, and norovirus. The scrubs that hospital workers wear are usually brightly colored and can't be bleached. I wouldn't be surprised if even the clean ones are full of nasty germs. 

How do I do my laundry?

  • I wash most underwear, white socks, washcloths, kitchen dish cloths, white towels, and white undershirts on a hot sanitize cycle with 1/2 cup chlorine bleach and extra rinse. I use the sanitize cycle in the dryer. 
  • I wash colored underwear and colored kitchen hand towels on the hottest sanitize cycle without bleach. I use the sanitize cycle in the dryer. I keep colored kitchen hand towels in a separate laundry basket from the wet kitchen washcloths so they don't get too germy. Dry laundry does not grow as many germs as wet laundry sitting in a basket. 
  • I wash bedding on a hot sanitize cycle and sanitize cycle in the dryer.
  • I wash dark clothing on cold and a normal cycle in the dryer. 
  • I wash light colored clothing on warm or cold and use a normal cycle in the dryer.
  • Sometimes I have to wash my 15 year old son's shirts on hot (with no bleach) because I've discovered that BO does not come out in cold or warm. 
  • Often I have to wash my young son's pajamas on hot (with no bleach) because pee does not come out in cold or warm. 
  • I take extra precautions if someone in the house has a stomach bug. You can read about that on my Stop the Stomach Flu page

Other Laundry Tips

  • If you want to use chlorine bleach, add 1/2 cup directly to the wash water as the machine is filling up before you add the clothes if that is an option. That kills germs better than using the dispenser in some machines because the bleach has more time with the laundry. 
  • Chlorine bleach is best the first 3 months after opening, so buy the smallest bottle. DO NOT BUY Splashless Bleach. It is not the same and does not kill germs as well. 
  • I do not recommend High Efficiency top loaders due to my horrible Samsung top loader. 
  • You can boil laundry like cleaning cloths for 10 minutes to kill germs if you prefer. See more cloth cleaning experiments including microwaving cloths and boiling cloths on this page. 
  • Use whichever laundry detergent you prefer because I have yet to find one that has any significant effect on the amount of bacteria in the laundry.  I'm still looking for an amazing detergent so check back regularly to see if I found one. 
  • I have found that putting too much laundry in the machine gives poor results. This is the biggest load size that got properly cleaned in any of the machines that I tested. 
  • High efficiency dryers like mine that "decide" how much heat to use, seem to heat up more when there is a normal sized wet load in there as compared to just a few items.