Protecting your family’s washing
If you wash your laundry at low temperatures, you are not alone. Because of the delicate nature of today’s fabrics, and in an effort to reduce energy costs, home laundering now tends to be carried out at 30-40°C. However, when you wash at temperatures below 60°C, bacteria and other germs can survive and transfer between garments in the wash. In fact, 78% of clothes tested straight from the washing machine contain traces of live fecal bacteria*.
To ensure your laundry is hygienically clean, not just visibly clean, follow these simple tips:
1. For high-risk items (heavily soiled, contact with animals) or at times when there is a greater risk, wash laundry at a higher temperature – greater than 60°C
2. Where this is not possible, or if you choose to wash at low temperatures – below 60°C – ensure you add a laundry sanitiser or disinfectant.
3. Launder items used around food, eg tea towels and dishcloths, separately from other items.
4. When washing reusable nappies, remove all solid material with toilet paper and discard it in the toilet. Wash nappies in accordance with label instructions.
5. Do not pre-wash dirty items by hand in sinks or surrounding areas before machine washing, as this can contaminate these areas
6. If a member of the family is unwell, try to wash their clothes separately with a laundry disinfectant to minimise the risk of spreading germs.
7. Dry laundry as soon as possible after the wash (eg don’t leave it damp overnight) as any remaining germs may multiply.
8. The higher the temperature the better the germ kill. To stop the build-up of bacteria and other germs in your machine, put it on a 60°C cycle (or the highest temperature the machine will allow) once a week. Alternatively use a washing machine cleaner.
9. Wash hands thoroughly after handling soiled laundry.
*AUT study (2019) tested on 60 samples of wet clothes straight from a completed standard NZ washing cycle (below 60°C, normal detergent). The number of bacteria will vary under different washing practices (temp, washing duration, types of load) and will be reduced depending on the drying process.