How to Disinfect Clothes in the Washing Machine

disinfect clothes in the washer

While proper hand-washing is essential in stopping the spread of germs, your washer can be just as crucial for sanitizing clothes. Wondering how to disinfect clothes in washer effectively? Using hot water with your detergent and adding some extra time in the dryer can stop viruses in their tracks. Learn how to disinfect clothes in the washing machine with these simple steps.

Best Ways to Disinfect Clothes in the Washing Machine

When using the washer to kill germs on clothes, hot water and detergent are key to effective disinfecting. However, the best ways to disinfect clothes in the washing machine also include traditional and color safe bleach, or natural bleach alternatives. Our how-to guide details the variety of methods that can rid clothing of germs from viruses to fungus.

How to Disinfect Clothes From Viruses

Viruses like COVID-19, rotavirus, and even the common cold can be killed on clothes if they’re washed in hot water. For maximum safety, it’s recommended that you wash a sick person’s clothes separately. Using a quality laundry detergent and drying clothes to completion in the dryer can ensure that virus particles don’t survive. 

Follow these steps to disinfect clothes in the washing machine after exposure to a virus:

  1. Protect yourself: Wear gloves and a mask when touching and placing laundry in the washer and avoid shaking clothing.
  2. Use hot water: Set washer to a regular wash setting with hot water or a sanitizing cycle. The water should be heated to at least 80℉.
  3. Don’t overuse detergent: Add the amount recommended on the package or in your washer’s user manual.
  4. Dry clothing in the dryer: Use the hottest setting that the fabric allows and run the cycle to completion so clothes are fully dry.
disinfect laundry without bleach

How to Disinfect Clothes From Fungus

Fungus can be notoriously hard to eliminate from clothing unless washed properly. To kill fungus, like the one that causes athlete’s foot, use the hottest water the fabric will tolerate and the following tips. 

Here’s how to disinfect clothes from fungus in the washing machine:

  1. Wash infected clothes separately: This prevents the transfer of spores to other items. 
  2. Set washer to a regular wash setting with hot water or a sanitizing cycle: The water should be heated to 140℉ to effectively kill the spores.
  3. Add bleach or bleach alternatives for extra disinfecting: For white items, add chlorine bleach to the washer along with your regular detergent. For colored clothing, add color safe bleach or a bleach alternative like pine oil or Lysol.
  4. Dry on a high temperature: Using the hottest setting the fabric will allow and drying items to completion can ensure that the fungus is dead.

Laundry Detergent That Kills Germs

While all detergent can effectively kill germs when used with hot water, there are some that provide a little extra insurance. What is the best laundry detergent that kills bacteria? A detergent that contains a bleach compound can be especially effective. To create a harsher environment that can kill most viruses, choose a detergent with oxygenated bleach. When washing white items, adding chlorine bleach with your regular detergent will eliminate most germs.

disinfect clothes from fungus

Natural Laundry Disinfectant

If you would rather avoid bleach, there are several natural methods that can still disinfect your clothing.

Use these natural additives to disinfect laundry without bleach:

  • Hydrogen peroxide and borax: Mix a solution of 4 cups hydrogen peroxide, 1 cup borax, and your usual amount of detergent. Add to the washer with water.
  • Tea tree or lavender essential oil: Add 2-3 drops of tea tree oil or 1-2 drops of lavender oil to unscented detergent.
  • Pine oil: Use a product that is at least 80% pine oil, like Pine-Sol. Add it according to the package directions at the beginning of a wash cycle with hot water.
  • Phenolic disinfectants: Lysol is a common brand of phenolic disinfectant. Refer to the package instructions for the proper amounts and use with hot water.
disinfect clothes in the washing machine

Knowing how to disinfect clothes in the washing machine can be a powerful tool in stopping the spread of viruses and germs. Is a malfunction sidelining your washer in the fight against illness? Call American Appliance for a fast and professional washer repair!

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