How to Disinfect Laundry

Disinfecting laundry can be an important part of keeping it fresh and clean. If you need to disinfect laundry due to exposure to infectious agents and don't want to use bleach, try applying the following tips and adding a few common household items to your wash.


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    Select an appropriate load size.
    • Make sure that the water can freely move around your clothes during the laundry cycle. When disinfecting clothes, try to choose a load size that is 1 size larger than you need.
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    Choose the washing cycle with the longest amount of time on your washing machine.
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    Wash your laundry at the hottest temperature that your clothes can withstand.
    • Always check the labels of your clothes to determine how warm your washing machine's water can be before it will damage your clothes.
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    Add 1 cup of 3-percent hydrogen peroxide or white, distilled vinegar to your laundry as the washing machine fills with water.
    • While hydrogen peroxide is safe to use with light-colored clothes, white, distilled vinegar can help preserve the colors of your dark clothes.
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    Add as much as 1 teaspoon of grapefruit seed extract or oil to a load of laundry as an alternative way to disinfect it.
    • Grapefruit seed extract and oil has a reputation for combating a number of infectious diseases, including Staph and Strep conditions and MRSA (Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus).
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    Look to your household cleaning supplies for another laundry disinfectant option.
    • Common household cleaning products containing a minimum of 80 percent of pine oil in them can be adequate in killing germs. Pouring 1 cup of a pine oil cleaning agent into your laundry will help disinfect laundry.
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    Consider washing heavily soiled laundry separately from the rest of your clothes.
    • This procedure might be able to help isolate and remove dirt particles more effectively. It can be especially helpful if you are dealing with laundry that has been exposed to infectious diseases or materials.


  • Take the extra step of using a disinfectant when the clothes have been exposed to someone who is ill.
  • Use disinfectants when washing your clothes at shared public facilities like laundromats. Wiping a washing machine down with a disinfectant and then adding the disinfectant to a laundry cycle can help stop the spread of infectious agents.
  • If you have hard water in your home, use more detergent in your laundry cycles. Hard water can require more detergent to get to the same results as soft water.
  • While bleach can be a helpful addition to your laundry disinfection routine, it is not necessary. Generally, you'll be able to adequately clean laundry using warm water and a detergent agent.
  • To naturally soften clothes, add white, distilled vinegar during the final rinse of a laundry cycle.
  • Certain detergents work optimally while being used with a particular temperature of water. If your detergent works best with water of a certain temperature, be sure to use that temperature instead of one that is too hot or cold.


  • Don't add white, distilled vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, or grapefruit seed extract or oil to a washing machine without spot-testing on small parts of your clothes first. You'll need to verify that clothes don't react negatively to contact with them. If you don't spot-test, you might damage your clothes.

Things You'll Need

  • Detergent
  • White, distilled vinegar
  • 3-percent hydrogen peroxide
  • Grapefruit seed oil
  • Grapefruit seed extract

Article Info

Categories: Laundry