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Does Washing Clothes Kill Germs?

By Sara Butler

You do laundry because you want your clothes to be clean. But have you ever stopped to think how clean your laundry truly is when it comes out of the washing machine? It may be free from visible dirt, but most people don’t realize what may still be lurking on their clothes! Here’s what you need to know about your laundry in order to keep everyone in your home free from illness and the spread of germs!

What’s Lurking in Your Laundry

If you take a moment to think about what goes into your washing machine, you can probably guess the kinds of things it’s contaminated with. Studies have found that 60 percent of washing machines tested positive for the presence of coliform bacteria, which comes from feces; 20 percent of these machines also contained staph, which can cause skin infections that can be quite dangerous.

The problem is that the average washing machine doesn’t wash away germs during a normal washing cycle. So, when you throw your clothes in and they’re washed, they aren’t coming out free from bacteria – they’re coming out contaminated.

You may be thinking that the dryer heat will take care of the bacteria, but your thinking is flawed there as well; though a hot dryer does kill E.coli, it doesn’t kill salmonella or other bacteria that have been known to inhabit the average washing machine.

What Can You Do?

Now, don’t swear off your washing machine – there are things you can do to help reduce the dangerous things prowling around in your washer. You should make sure to wash certain items in hot water only, such as:

  • Cloth diapers
  • Bed linens
  • Underwear
  • Kitchen towels
  • Cleaning rags
  • Pet items

You can also reduce the germ load of your laundry loads by:

  • Washing your hands – To avoid cross contamination in the washing machine, sort laundry but wash hands between each kind. When you transfer laundry to the dryer, wash your hands before handling clean laundry you may have just removed.
  • Loading underwear last – When you wash underwear, leave it as the last stuff you wash. Don’t mix underwear with other types of clothing, either. This will help to cut down on contamination of fecal bacteria.
  • Maintaining your machine – Make sure you clean your washing machine in accordance with the manufacturer’s directions on a regular basis. Every month you should be running an empty load with bleach through your machine.

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic.

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