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A boy blowing his nose in bed, surrounded by used tissues, a thermometer and an ice pack.

Top Tips on How to Disinfect Clothes After Being Ill

Unfortunately, the common cold or a bout of flu is something we all have to put up with at least once a year, so knowing how to disinfect clothes and help prevent the spread of illness can be very useful.

Don’t let germs rule your home – discover how to disinfect clothing and sheets after being ill here!


Why do I need to disinfect clothes?

Germs can easily spread around the home, especially if you or a member of your family have been ill. To help prevent the spread of illness, bedding, blankets, and any clothing (most likely pyjamas) need to be washed as soon as possible when someone is ill – ideally every day, or at least every other day.


Does warm water get rid of germs?

Warm water can get rid of germs, just as long as it’s hot enough. Washing clothes at 40°C will reduce the amount of germs on them but washing at 60°C will achieve a far greater reduction (though washing at this temperature should be reserved for very tough washing situations, such as when you’re disinfecting clothes). However, washing with water alone is unlikely to completely remove the bacteria, so you’ll want to use a good detergent like Persil to help you with this.


Does laundry detergent remove germs? 

Hot water and laundry detergent are a great combo for getting rid of germs but using extremely hot water can have an adverse effect on the cleaning powers of biological detergents. Likewise, certain fabrics may be damaged by very high temperatures.

To effectively get rid of as many germs as possible in the wash, we recommend that you also use one of the disinfectants for clothes listed below.


How to disinfect clothes in the washing machine using oxygen bleach

Oxygenated bleach is known for its ability to remove germs. Here’s how to use it to disinfect clothes safely:

  1. Separate your laundry. Wash bedding and clothing of anyone who has been sick in your household separately from your normal laundry. Likewise, if you have any heavily soiled items (those with vomit or blood on them), pre-treat and wash them alone.
  2. Read the care labels on the items to check for guidance on wash temperatures and to see if they have any restrictions on using bleach. You can also check if your items are bleach-safe by doing a patch test following the instructions here.
  3. Wash the items in the washing machine. Add your normal laundry detergent (such as Persil Bio) and set the temperature a little higher – we recommend 40°
  4. Add some oxygen bleach to the appropriate drawer of your washing machine (check your washing machine manual and the instructions on the bleach pack). Always wear gloves when using bleach and keep children and pets away from any bleach products. Make sure you follow the dosage guidance on the packaging.
  5. Run your washing machine cycle as normal and then air dry in the sun, where possible. 

Handy hint: We recommend using oxygen bleach as it is suitable for both white and coloured clothes. Chlorine bleach is more corrosive and should only be used for white, hard-wearing fabrics. Find out more about using bleach in the laundry here.

Remember: use biocides safely. Always read the label and product information before use.


Disinfecting clothes without bleach

Using bleach is one of the most effective ways to remove as much bacteria as possible – but it’s not the only choice. Here’s an alternative option for how to disinfect clothing if you don’t want to use bleach, or your clothes aren’t bleach safe:

  1. Follow steps one to three as above.
  2. Add one cup of white, distilled vinegar to your washing machine’s rinse cycle (follow the instructions in your manual for guidance). This will help to remove germs and bacteria in the wash and deodorise nasty smells.
  3. Wash as normal and air dry once the cycle has finished


Preventing the spread of illness in your home needn’t be an epic battle, remember our tips for disinfecting clothes with and without bleach and you can tackle those germs! And don’t forget to keep your washing machine clean and germ-free, too – find out how to clean a washing machine here.

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