The Proper Way To Sanitize Laundry (Remove Harmful Bacteria)

How To Sanitize Your Laundry

Just like any other surface, clothing and fabrics can contain germs and bacteria that can make us sick or trigger allergies. However, you’ll need to do a little more than your normal laundry routine to properly sanitize your fabrics and prevent the spread of viruses, bacteria, and allergens.


Sanitizing your laundry: Here’s what you’ll need


Distilled White Vinegar


Vinegar is a gentle way to disinfect fabrics and remove soap build-up from laundry detergent.


To use, add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of vinegar to a normal wash or rinse cycle at any temperature.


Liquid Bleach


Although bleach isn’t safe for every fabric – check the care label if you’re not sure – studies have found it to be highly effective at eliminating viruses from clothing.


Use 3/4 cup of bleach diluted with water for normal loads and 1-1/4 cups for large or extra-soiled loads. Add the bleach to the bleach dispenser on your washing machine, or as the machine is filling up with water before you put the laundry in.


Then add normal detergent and run the wash cycle.




For fabric that can’t be washed in bleach, use Borax and hot water instead.


You can either mix 1/2 cup of Borax with your normal detergent or sprinkle it in with the laundry.




Pine-Sol and other pine oil disinfectant products that contain 80% pine oil can also be used instead of bleach on white or colorfast fabrics.


Add at the beginning of the wash cycle for best results.


Hydrogen Peroxide


Add 1 cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide to disinfect your laundry and remove stains. Be sure to do a small spot test before using hydrogen peroxide on all of your laundries.


Laundry Sanitizer


If you can’t wash your clothes on high heat or use bleach, a laundry sanitizer can be the perfect solution. Popular laundry sanitizers are Lysol Laundry Sanitizer and Clorox Fabric Sanitizer pre-treat spray.


A Washing Machine With A Sanitizer Cycle


Some high-efficiency washing machines have a sanitizer function that uses extra-hot water to help eliminate bacteria, which will make it a little easier to sanitize your laundry.


However, you shouldn’t use this option too often because high temperatures can damage fabrics.  


Heat After Your Clothes Are Washed


You’ll need lots of heat to kill bacteria, even after you’ve washed your laundry.


Use the hottest setting on your dryer – if it’s safe for the fabric. If the fabric can’t be washed in hot water, you can use the “steam sanitary” cycle on your dryer, according to Real Simple.


You can also hang your laundry outside in direct sunlight to dry it. Ironing or steaming your clothes once they’re dry can also help kill germs.


Why Should You Sanitize Your Laundry?


It’s important to sanitize your laundry if someone in your household is sick or suffering from allergies – especially fabrics that could contain fecal matter, according to Time.


If fabrics were exposed to mold or a flood, you’ll also want to


You don’t need to sanitize every load of laundry, but you should still periodically sanitize items that come into germs frequently


Even if no one in your household is sick, fabrics can hold onto germs and spread them to us.

Items like workout clothes, pet blankets, towels, and face masks should be routinely sanitized to prevent spreading bacteria, according to The Maids.


How To Sanitize Your Laundry At Home


Check the care labels on your fabrics


Before you start your laundry, read the care labels on any fabric you need to sanitize to know how to safely wash and dry it.


Your washing process will depend on the type of fabric and sanitizing products you’re using.  

If you’re washing fabrics in hot water, wash similar colors together to prevent colors from bleeding.


Not that it’s generally easier to sanitize white and colorfast fabrics. If you’re caring for a sick housemate, have them sleep on white sheets and wear clothing that’s easy to wash.


Don’t use too much detergent or fabric softener


You might be tempted to toss in a little extra detergent or fabric softener in your laundry to help kill bacteria and germs, but the extra soap can actually coat fabrics and trap germs inside.


Stick with the recommended amounts of detergent and other cleaning products to sanitize your laundry properly.


Handle laundry with care if someone is sick


If someone in your household is sick, wear a pair of rubber gloves while handling their laundry and washing your hands afterward to protect yourself.


You can wash other household items with that load of laundry if you’re following an effective sanitization process. If you’re not sure, do their laundry in a separate load to prevent cross-contamination.


WebMD recommends disinfecting any surface that a sick person’s laundry touched before it was washed, including hampers. Make sure anyone who is sick has a special place to put their dirty laundry that’s easy to clean or that’s disposable.


Dry your clothes on high heat for at least 28 minutes or hang them outside in direct sunlight


Experts recommend drying your fabrics in high heat for at least 28 minutes to effectively kill viruses. If you can’t dry the fabric in high heat, hanging it outside in direct sunlight can also sanitize it.


Don’t forget to sanitize your washing machine


Run a wash cycle with bleach or another disinfectant to get rid of lingering germs


Germs can linger in your washing machine even if you used extra-hot water and a disinfecting detergent. To clean your washing machine, add one cup of bleach and run a hot wash cycle while the machine is empty. Instead of bleach, you can use Pine-Sol or a laundry disinfectant.


Once it’s done running, check the washing machine for signs of mold and product buildup. You can use a brush or cloth dipped in diluted bleach to scrub the spots. Run a rinse/spin cycle to finish, according to The Spruce


With all that is happening in our environment sanitizing is very necessary. Most time we often over-looked the clothes that we wear. Little did we know that these are carriers of bacteria too. This article has given you the heads up on how to sanitize your laundry and remove transmittable bacteria with simple and easy steps.