I know that bleach will sanitize laundry and washing machines, but I was wondering if household ammonia would also serve this purpose for non-bleachable fabrics. If it can be used as a sanitizing alternative, how much ammonia would I need? I know there are other options like Quats and such, but they’re expensive and difficult to come by.
Whether or not you can use ammonia as a fabric sanitizer is not an easy yes or no answer. Remember that products sold in the U.S. with claims for sanitizing or disinfecting must be registered with the EPA. As part of the registration process, the efficacy of the product is established under specific use conditions, targeting specific organisms. These conditions become the label instructions, which must be followed to get the desired results for germ kill. Without an EPA registration, no instructions for killing germs can be provided. Vinegar has the same problem!
This is why we can’t provide instructions for using other products like ammonia or vinegar for killing germs in the laundry. Unfortunately, there are many claims online that post sanitizing advice with various home remedies that can inadvertently mislead consumers. Fortunately Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach is EPA registered, and can be used to sanitize laundry, even some items with color that you have confirmed are colorfast to bleach.
And now for some really great news—there ARE options for fabrics that aren’t safe for bleach! You mentioned quats, or quaternary ammonium salts, which are the germ killing active in Clorox® Laundry Sanitizer, which is EPA registered for laundry use. You simply add it to the softener compartment of your clothes washer, so it’s very convenient to use. It’s available from major retailers as well as on line, so now you do have options when bleach isn’t appropriate!
Finally, because you mentioned ammonia, I want to take this opportunity to remind you that Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach should never be combined with products that contain ammonia or strong acids because hazardous gases may form.