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Your Questions: Killing Germs in Laundry

By Dr. Laundry May 27, 2008

Q: Do you make or know of a laundry additive (Clorox 2) which is safe for colors but also kills germs like regular Clorox does?

A: This is a great question and one I hear a lot. Unfortunately, there currently is NOT a product for disinfecting colored clothes. Our Clorox2® for Colors contains hydrogen peroxide as its active ingredient. It is a much weaker bleach than the sodium hypochlorite found in Clorox® Regular- Bleach and is not capable of meeting EPA disinfecting requirements.

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

  • Use the hottest wash water recommended on the care label; might also do more than one wash on these items to further reduce the bacteria count.

  • Consider washing the items of concern separately so that the germs are NOT spread to more items; transfer can occur in the washer and when transferring/handling from the washer to dryer.

  • Use the hottest dryer setting recommended on the care label and dry the items separately to maximize germ reduction. 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 tspn liquid Clorox® Regular – Bleach 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 bleachfast, consider a quick bleach soak (1/4 cup Clorox® Regular – Bleach in gallon of warm water for 5-10 minutes) before washing in the hottest water recommended on the care label.

  • Finally, to prevent further germ spread, I would do a white load using detergent and 3/4 cup Clorox® Regular – Bleach after these items had been washed. Kind of like a mouthwash for your washer.