Is a Dirty Washing Machine Placing Your Family’s Health at Risk?

Fred's Appliance
July 2, 2014


Just because your clothes look and smell fresh after running them through the washing machine and dryer doesn’t necessarily mean they are clean. Several studies have found washing machines to contain as many as 100 million units of E.coli – a potentially harmful bacteria that may cause illness inside or outside of the digestive tract. Washing your clothes inside a contaminated unit exposes them to this bacteria, which could result in illness to the wearer.


The Dirty Truth About Washing Machine Germs


Contrary to popular belief, laundry detergent does not kill pathogenic bacteria and viruses. Whether it’s liquid, powder or tablet form, nearly all standard laundry detergents are ineffective at neutralizing germs. And adding more detergent in hopes of creating cleaner clothes can make the problem worse by promoting the growth of mold and mildew.


So, what’s the culprit behind the dirty washing machine phenomenon? Researchers believe the smallest garment – underwear – is the biggest problem. It’s not something most people want to think about, but dirty underwear contains bacteria that may spread to other clothes in the washing machine.


Garments which contain bits and pieces of food may may also contribute to the spreading of germs in the washing machine. Individuals who work in the food service industry may toss their apron or work uniform in the laundry, exposing other garments to the bacteria-ridden food particles.


If you work with food and put your uniform in with the rest of the family’s dirty laundry, including dirty underwear, it could become infected with e.coli or salmonella – or whatever else is on those clothes,” says environmental hygiene consultant Dr. Lisa Ackerley.


Tips To Eliminate Bacteria and Viruses In Washing Machines:


  • Although it’s more energy efficient, cold water will no effectively kill germs. The water temp inside a washing machine must reach 140-150 degrees Fahrenheit in order to neutralize bacteria and viruses.
  • When washing white-colored garments, add a small amount of chlorine bleach to kill any bad germs.
  • Colorox2 is a powerful stain-fighter stain and germ-fighter that’s safe to use on colored garments.
  • Routinely wash your washing machine with warm water and bleach – using no clothes or garments.
  • Avoid washing underwear with other garments.
  • Consider line-drying your clothes rather than using the dryer. Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays will easily kill any germs lingering on your clothes.
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