It’s often a forgotten area of household hygiene because, by its very nature, laundry areas can be perceived as clean. But studies have shown that the transfer of microbes between contaminated and uncontaminated clothing can occur during washing and that microbial transfer is only partially removed during the rinse cycles.
Fabrics that are soiled with body fluids (e.g. vomit and faeces), cleaning cloths, underclothes, towels and items used around food, can carry lots of germs. The germs can easily transfer to your hands and to surfaces around your home. If you don’t launder these items properly, any germs that are left behind can multiply quickly, especially if the laundry remains damp for a while. The germs may spread to other items in the wash, from the washing machine to the fabrics in the next load, and to the hands of those who handle the damp laundry.
Did you know? An average washing machine load can contain 100 million E.coli at any one time
It is really important to launder effectively to destroy all the germs and then dry your laundry promptly. Washing fabrics at high temperature (60ºC or above) will usually destroy most germs. However, if the fabric is heavily soiled, or you prefer not to wash it at a high temperature, you will need to add a suitable laundry disinfectant.
|Risk||Fabric||Effective laundering method*|
||Machine-wash with laundry detergent at 90ºC, or at 60ºC using a laundry disinfectant. Use the pre-wash cycle. Launder heavily soiled items as a separate load.|
||Machine-wash with laundry detergent at 60ºC (or above), or at 40-60ºC using a suitable laundry disinfectant. Launder fabrics used around food as a separate load.|
||Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If a low temperature (below 40ºC) is necessary, consider using a laundry disinfectant to help destroy any germs and odours.|
* Always check the manufacturer’s washing instructions. You may have to discard soiled items that cannot withstand a hot wash.