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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Your Questions: Disinfecting Children’s Items

By Dr. Laundry July 8, 2008

Q: My toddler has an off-white stuffed lambie that she loves to suck on the ears and legs. It begins to stink very bad with her saliva germs from her mouth so I have washed it and disinfected it with Clorox® Regular-Bleach1. After 3 days or so, I have to bleach it again. She also has a colored bunny. My question is: Does Clorox 2® Stain Remover & Color Booster have the same disinfecting ingredient as the Clorox® Regular-Bleach1 for whites? I would like to disinfect this bunny too. Thanks for you help.

A: Kids always seem to have those favorite toys/blankets that have to go everywhere with them. The white one might benefit from a short bleach presoak (1/4 cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach1 in gallon of warm water for 5-10 minutes) before laundering. Then, launder in hot water using detergent and 3/4 cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach1. This might extend the “life cycle.”

On the colored one, this is a question that I get a lot. Unfortunately, there currently is NOT a product for disinfecting colored clothes/items. Our Clorox 2® Stain Remover & Color Booster contains hydrogen peroxide as its active ingredient. It is a much weaker bleach than the sodium hypochlorite found in Clorox® Regular-Bleach1 and is not capable of meeting EPA disinfecting requirements.

As I have written previously, the best way to reduce germ counts in (colored) laundry are:

  • Use the hottest wash water recommended on the care label; you might also do more than one wash on these items to further reduce the bacteria count.
  • Use the hottest dryer setting recommended on the care label. While the dryer isn’t capable of completely killing, it will help lower the germ count
  • Check the items for Bleachability. It’s surprising how many things labeled as “Do Not Bleach” are actually OK to use liquid bleach. Do the quick Bleachability/colorfast test on a hidden part of the colored item (2 tsp Clorox® Regular-Bleach1 in 1/4 cup water; apply a drop on a hidden color section area like inside seam, hemline or cuff; wait 1 minute and then blot with towel); no color change means it is safe to use bleach on the item. If bleach-fast, consider a quick bleach soak (1/4 cup Clorox® Regular-Bleach1 in gallon of warm water for 5–10 minutes) before washing in the hottest water recommended on the care label.