Many homeowners have often wondered how it's possible that an appliance that constantly uses soap and water is also one of the dirtiest places in a home.
Many experts say that washing machines are riddled with pathogenic bacteria (the kind that can make you sick) that find its way onto your family’s clothes — and then onto them. Here is Warner Service’s breakdown of which loads of laundry carry which germs and exactly how to get rid of them without breaking the bank or using chemical-based laundry products:
The Dirty Truth
Unsurprisingly, undergarments, face and kitchen towels, bed sheets, and pillowcases are the biggest culprits of germs that fester in washers.
Many homeowners wash these fabrics together due to their similar soiled nature, but Charles Gerba, a professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona, told ABC News that one load of undergarments foster about 100 million E. coli in the wash water alone. That doesn’t count the growing mold and mildew spores that 10 percent of most household washing machines unknowingly harbor on the door or inside.
Undergarments can also carry other germs including norovirus and rotavirus, which cause inflammation of the stomach and intestines; salmonella, a type of food poisoning; adenovirus, which causes acute respiratory infections; and hepatitis A virus, which can cause a liver infection.
As for everyday outerwear, the most germ-ridden fabrics tend to be children’s clothes and uniforms, especially those from the healthcare, agriculture, and food industries. Staphylococcus — a bacterium on the skin that can cause staph infections — and other microorganisms that lead to foul odors, allergies, and skin infection, are common culprits.
How to Get Rid of Pathogens
While it is near impossible to get rid of all allergens and pathogens, homeowners can safely reduce the amount of germs on clothing using "green" techniques.
However, many people instead rely on strong chemicals in laundry detergent for sensitive skin and softeners, or excessively hot water (typically between 140 to 150 degrees Fahrenheit) to kill germs. Others rely on the right concentration of chloride bleach, but, like we mentioned before, these traditional methods are not eco-friendly. They are also not cost-effective for water, energy, or grocery bills.
Warner Service suggests the following tips:
- Dry your clothes in the sun. The ultraviolet radiation acts as a natural germ killer that is just as effective as bleach.
- Switch to a more natural stain remover and laundry detergent to avoid synthetic dyes and fragrances, which can perpetuate the growth of unnatural bacteria.
- Skip the softener entirely. Most homeowners do not notice a huge difference.
- Use bleach with peroxide, which is a more natural alternative to chloride.
- Use the Laundry Scrubber to clean your washing machine. The small device is one of our newest products that our techs and customers swear by. It uses only natural oxidizers and cold water for a safer, greener wash that produces the same results without the high bills.
- Try an environmentally friendly germicide for your next load, but pour only 1/2 cup at maximum.
- Clean your laundry machine using our easy step-by-step guide that comes with an organic ingredients list and instructions.
Thankfully, most of the germs we encounter every day are harmless. However, to get rid of the 1 to 2 percent of pathogenic bacteria that could make us sick, it is important to wash your clothes and your laundry machine correctly.