Skip to content
Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Cleaning Your Washer With Bleach

By Dr. Laundry November 3, 2009

Hello there,

As I’ve said many times before on this blog, one of the reasons to use liquid bleach in your white loads is to get the best cleaning, whitest whites and kill unwanted germs so they can’t be transferred to other clothes. I came across a clip recently that I thought I would share with you all. It is from a segment on the “CBS Early Show” that addresses the issue of bacteria buildup in washers. (View the clip here: CBS Early Show, Germ Warfare: The Laundry Room.) CBS points out that with each load of laundry; your machine accumulates bacteria shed by the clothing being washed. They point out that eventually, the buildup can lead to some pretty unsanitary conditions within your washer. This is why it is so important to include bleach in your laundry routine.

To prevent bacteria buildup in your washing machine, here is what I recommend:

  1. Try to do a load of white laundry at least once a week. For white clothing, I recommend washing with the hottest water recommended on the item’s care label and ¾ cup of Clorox® Regular-Bleach1. This regular presence of bleach in your machine will help keep bacteria levels low in other loads where you don’t use liquid bleach.
  2. When faced with a particularly dirty load (anything that may have become contaminated with vomit, fecal matter — you get the idea), be sure to sanitize the washer after use. In this instance, it would be best to not introduce even your white clothing that can be bleached to this environment. Simply run the washer as usual, but without any clothes, and be sure to include ¾ cup of Clorox® Regular-Bleach1. If you own a HE washing machine, run a Clean-Out cycle at least once a month and leave the door of the machine open for a few hours in order to allow any remaining water to evaporate. These machines don’t drain completely and the retained “dirty” water is an ideal place for odor-causing bacteria and mildew to breed.

These are simple steps you can take to keep you and your family’s clothing not only looking great, but also help prevent the spread of bacteria within your household.

—Dr. Laundry