How to Sanitize Your Laundry

When SHOULD you Sanitize?
  • There is no need to sanitize under ordinary conditions, as we are using proper detergent and agitation to remove the bacteria every time we wash. With that being said you may find yourself on occasion battling such bacterial and viral issues such as Hand, Foot, Mouth disease, Staph, Yeast, or the Flu that may lead you to desire an increased level of protection in the laundry room.


Using Bleach to Sanitize Laundry
  • Be sure that your bleach has disinfecting instructions on the bottle and says, “kills flu virus” and that it’s less than 9 months old. Bleach does expire!
  • Bleach is the simplest, most effective, and economical of the available options to sanitize laundry, due primarily to its high level of effectiveness when diluted to high levels.
  • Be advised that not all bleach dispensers are reliable and adding bleach to a load of colored laundry could result in color fading and bleach spots although it *shouldn’t.


Using a Cold Bleach Soak to Sanitize Laundry
  • Start with CLEAN laundry, using disinfecting bleach with at least 5.25% sodium hypochlorite as the active ingredient. Soak for at least 30 minutes (and not to exceed 45 min.) in COLD water using the following dilution corresponding to your load size:
    • Top Loader (non-HE): Small – 1/3 cup, Medium – 1/2 cup, Large/XL – 3/4 cup
    • Average Bathtub: 1/2 full – 1/2 cup, 3/4 full – 3/4 cup- 1 cup
      • *Note* Measure from the top of the tub, regardless of where the overflow is.
    • Smaller Vessel: 1 Tablespoon for each gallon of cold water (up to 5 gal), add 1 Tbs. bleach.
  • After bleaching, rinse with HOT water, and follow with a HOT wash with detergent to completely break down the bleach.


Using a Bleach Wash to Sanitize Laundry
  • If you are doing a bleach *WASH* instead of a bleach soak (as the follow-up for yeast treatment) you use the same amounts given above for the corresponding load size and wash in HOT water so that the bleach is broken down by the end of the wash cycle. If you’d like to do a bleach wash in an HE Front-loader, do so in a dispenser you have tested and trust and use the amounts given for an HE TL.
    • HE (TL and FL): 1/2 cup (this is for a drum 2/3-3/4 full, which provides the best agitation)
    • Non-HE: Small load – 1/4 cup, Medium load – 1/2 cup, Large load – 3/4 cup


A Few Notes
  • Concentrated bleach requires the same dilution amounts.
  • Non-chlorine, splash-less and scented bleaches DO NOT work for disinfecting.
  • You cannot soak in an HE Front-loader and soaking in a HE Top-loader is NOT recommended, you must use the bathtub or another container.
  • When rinsing, a rinse cycle in some HE (High Efficiency) washers will not always immediately deactivate the bleach. Always rinse HOT *in the tub* before transferring to a hE washer. If you are worried about a special item fading, please make sure you rinse carefully by hand and Do NOT WRING out any non-colorfast items prior to fully rinsing, this has the potential to cause fading.


If you Have IRON Hard Water, Do NOT Use Bleach
  • To test to see if you have iron hard water, put a drop of bleach in a cup of water and add a scrap of white fabric, like an old white sock. Let the fabric soak for 15 minutes and then rinse thoroughly. If the fabric turns orange, don’t use bleach. It will dye your clothes orange.
  • Bleaching with septic systems is fine in moderation. “Disinfectants are considered safe for both septic systems and groundwater as long as they are used in concentrations listed on the product labels. For example, more than 2 gallons of hypochlorite bleach or 5 gallons of pine cleaner would be needed to kill most of the bacteria in a 1,000- gallon septic tank. It would then take 45-60 hours for the bacterial populations to recover from a lethal dose of hypochlorite bleach, and 30-65 hours to recover from a lethal dose of pine cleaner.
  • For alternative sanitizing methods that don’t use bleach, please visit “How to Sanitize Without Bleach” at “Fluff Love University.”


To Read Up on Bleach for Sanitizing Safely: