How to kill bacteria in your clothes

If you or another one of your family members have recently had a bad cold, the flu or another infectious illness, you need to disinfect their dirty laundry to prevent others from getting sick. To kill bacteria on clothing, you need to wash it using the correct temperature setting for the water in your washer. Hot water disinfects clothing better than warm or cold, so it is the best temperature setting for clothes that need disinfecting. To ensure all germs are eradicated when you launder contaminated clothing, add a disinfectant to the washing machine along with the detergent.

Set your washer to heavy soil with a hot temperature setting. Turn the washer on and allow it to start filling.

Add the appropriate amount of washing powder to the water in the washing machine. Add either 1/2 cup bleach or pine oil cleaner to the water.

Put laundry in the washing machine when it is about 1/2 filled with water. Do not over stuff the machine because clothes need room to agitate in the water in order for them to be cleaned. Close the lid, and allow the machine to run through until completion of the wash cycle.

Restart your washer and run your clothing through once more with nothing more than hot water. This will help lessen the smell of bleach or pine oil on your clothing. Dry as directed by care labels.


Pine cleaners should contain 80 per cent pine oil to disinfect bacteria. Only use bleach or pine oil products on clothes that are white or colour-fast. Other fabric may be damaged by these products.

Things You'll Need

  • Bleach or pine oil cleaner
  • Washing powder
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About the Author

Hillary Marshall has been writing professionally since 2006. Before writing instructional articles online, she worked as a copywriter and has been published in "Ideal Living" "Sass" "Science Edge" and "Shopping Cents" magazines along with countless websites including Gadling a blog by the Huffington post. Marshall studied early childhood education at the Stratford Career Institute.