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Laundry Hygiene FAQ: How to Disinfect Clothes

Cleaning our clothes and disinfecting them might seem like two separate processes but you can combine them for safe and effective results. Put that laundry load down and clap your eyes on this laundry low-down to make disinfecting part of your usual laundry routine. Does a 30-degree wash kill bacteria? Is ironing part of the disinfecting process? Learn how to disinfect clothes from viruses and bacteria with the answers to these common laundry conundrums.

1. How do germs get onto clothes and towels?

That old rhyme about coughs and sneezes? It’s true! Viruses and bacteria can get onto clothes through bodily fluids being transmitted to the fabric. Germs can also be spread onto clothing through touch, either human or object – if your jacket happens to come into contact with a contaminated surface, for example.

Towels are also prone to breeding bacteria, especially if they’re shared between different people, or if handled with other soiled items before being put in the machine. Luckily, there’s a lot we can do about it! And it starts by learning how to disinfect clothes, by grasping the following basics.

2. What temperature kills bacteria in a washing machine? Will it kill viruses too?

Nowadays, energy-efficient laundry routines often involve washing on lower temperatures; this is great for the environment and safe for your laundry, but it does mean that viruses and bacteria can survive on your clothes.

While it is generally understood that washing at higher temperatures can help to remove germs, it is not the only option. In fact, high temperatures can damage fibres and fade colours in your clothes.   Instead, try washing your laundry on a lower setting and using a good-quality detergent and laundry sanitiser that’s designed for lower temperatures. Our Persil Antibacterial Laundry Sanitiser kills 99.9% viruses* and bacteria on wash temperatures as low as 20°C! Now there’s no need to choose between clothes care and hygiene!

3. So, does a 30-degree wash kill bacteria and viruses?

Luckily, most washing machines these days have lower wash settings, which is good news for our bank balance and the environment, and kinder to our clothes! For many of us, 30 is the standard for our washing routines.

But when we wash at temperatures below 60, viruses and bacteria can survive on our clothes. To kill viruses and bacteria, we recommend adding a Persil Antibacterial Laundry Sanitiser to your wash alongside a regular laundry detergent. It kills 99.9% viruses* and bacteria at temperatures as low as 20°C.

4. Does Persil detergent kill bacteria and viruses?

Detergents alone don’t kill all viruses and bacteria. Our Persil liquid washing detergents are designed to clean and freshen and not to kill germs.  By contrast, our Persil Sanitiser has been specially developed to kill 99.9% viruses* and bacteria.  It can do this without the need for a hot washing cycle as it works in a quick and a cold wash.

5. So, what clothes are most at risk from germs?

Underwear is one of the items of clothing most at risk of carrying germs. Have a look at how to wash it effectively, here. Otherwise, take care of outer garments which can come into contact with contaminated objects, such as your clothes if you have been nursing someone who has been ill.  You can check out how to clean your jackets effectively, here. Other high-risk items include gym clothes, bedding, and towels. The NHS provides a useful list of which items to take extra care with.

How to disinfect clothes: Top tips

To preserve the quality of your clothes and help remove bacteria, it’s best to take a 360 approach:

  • Combine a good-quality detergent with an optimal temperature setting, and always check the care label. 
  • Combine your detergent with an antibacterial laundry sanitiser like Persil to kill 99% viruses and bacteria.
  • Thoroughly dry your clothes.
  • If care instructions allow, always iron laundry after washing.

Remember to use biocides safely, always read the label and product information before use, and wash your hands.  

*Laboratory tested on Influenza H1N1, Vacciniavirus, murine coronavirus (EN14476, 10 mins).

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