Great question and one I hear a lot. For your white and bleachable light colors, it’s pretty straight-forward. To best disinfect clothes, simply wash in hot water using detergent and ¾ of a cup of Clorox® Regular-Bleach.
Unfortunately, there currently is NOT a product for disinfecting colored clothes. Our Clorox2® Stain Fighter and Color Booster, which is safe to use with colored items, contains hydrogen peroxide as its active ingredient. It is a much weaker bleach than the sodium hypochlorite found in Clorox® Regular Bleach2 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; Consider doing 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.
- Also, 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 Bleach2 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 liquid bleach on the item. If bleachfast, consider a quick bleach soak (1/4 cup Clorox® Regular Bleach2 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 Bleach2 after these items had been washed. Kind of like a mouthwash for your washer.