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Is There Harmful Bacteria In Your Washing Machine?


Is There Harmful Bacteria In Your Washing Machine?

Our washing machines job is to keep our clothes looking and smelling fresh. The American Cleaning Institute states the average household washes more than 50 pounds of laundry a week. This is the equivalent of over 6,000 pieces of clothing a year! With the major role our washing machines have, it is important to ensure our clothes come out clean and not dirtier than before than we washed them.

We sometime tend to forget that simply washing our clothes doesn’t kill germs. Firstly, household detergents are formulated to remove stains and dirt, not to disinfect. The water temperature used also plays a major role in this. To effectively kill most bacteria the water needs to be between 140-150° F. Studies estimate that only 5% of households in the US use this advised temperature when doing laundry. This may be due to the increased washing of delicate fabrics that are cold wash only. Many of us also use lower temperatures to reduce our energy bills.

Underwear, children’s clothing, and towels are some of the items that introduce potentially harmful bacteria into your washing machine. The bacteria that survives the washing process begin to build up biofilms inside the machine. Amazingly, these biofilms can sometimes contain more pathogens than toilets. Studies conducted by the University of Arizona found that washing machines can contain as many as 100 million units of E. coli. According to another study, germs on just one item of clothing will spread to 90% of the other items. If not washed properly, these germs then get onto your hands when you transfer the wet clothes to the dryer.

So how can we make sure we are laundering our clothes as safely and effectively as possible?

  1. Washing machine manufacturers recommend cleaning your washing machine at least once a month. Do this without any clothes in the washer, using hot water and preferably bleach or another EPA approved disinfectant. Just remember to do a second rinse to make sure there is no bleach remaining inside the machine when finished.
  2. If someone in your household is sick or if you frequently wash germ prone items like we do, I would suggest using Lysol Laundry Sanitizer or a similar product. Simply add the appropriate amount to the fabric softener compartment and your clothes are sanitized during the rinse cycle. It contains no bleach, is safe to use with colors, and is even formulated to work using cold water. It also kills 99.9% of germs when used as directed.
  3. Lastly, always be sure to dry your laundry immediately after washing. Leaving wet clothes in the washer for as little as 30 minutes can create the perfect environment for germs to thrive and multiply.

With these simple steps, we can make sure we protect our families by limiting the amount of viruses and bacteria in our washing machines. Be sure to stay on the lookout for future blogs containing other cleaning tips and tricks. If you are in our service area and need help with routine house cleaning or even a one-time cleaning, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We have proudly served the Upstate for over 7 years and would love to make you our latest satisfied client!

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