sanitizing laundry without bleach?

kaliAugust 10, 2003

Any tips on an effective laundry sanitizer? Chlorine bleach is too strong and I inevitably drip some somewhere and ruin clothes.

Grapefruit seed extract is supposedly a good disinfectant but the only information I've found about it has been on vendors' and manufacturers' websites.

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"Any tips on an effective laundry sanitizer?"
Actually, soap and water at almost any temperature will kill almost all pathogens. Make it hot soapy water followed by a hot drier and the clothes are sanitary enough that you can use a freshly lanudered tshirt or towel as an emergency replacement for a sterile bandage and have little risk of infection.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2003 at 9:17AM
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Even if dishtowels are washed with underpants and bedsheets? I don't have enough whites to justify doing all that in separate small loads (not to mention that I'd be doing nothing but laundry all day long), but then I get grossed out and end up dumping in bleach. Am I being a complete germophobe? ;-)

    Bookmark   August 13, 2003 at 6:46PM
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I wash towels separate from clothing as I do not want to use fabric softener on towels because it makes them less absorbent. I wash bedsheets alone, one bed's worth at a time--if you crowd your washing machine with sheets and other items, you are putting too much into the machine at once and not getting your clothes that clean because they don't have enough room to agitate.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2003 at 3:07PM
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I don't use fabric softener for that reason (towel absorbency) as well as other reasons (skin sensitivities).

The OP may wish to post over on the Laundry forum. Some of those people seem to have chemistry degrees, they know so much.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2003 at 3:51PM
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Lazygardens is correct.....most germs are killed with hot water, detergent and a dryer......even underwear and dish towels together.....and what's more, fabric softener has a bit of an anti bacterial effect as well.....and if yoiu are still un easy....add some oxy clean.
I wash towels separate from most things....because I don't want fuzz on my other clothes.
Linda C

    Bookmark   August 15, 2003 at 2:03PM
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I usually have large loads, but sometimes when I have a couple items that need washed or something that needs to be washed separately, I run them in a wash cycle only, take the items out and using the same water, reset the wash cycle and run my load. I usually rinse out the item/s in my sink and after the "load" is finished washing, I throw the item/s in for a spin cycle. You could wash the underwear , spin them out and then reset the wash cycle, leaving the underwear in and add the other whites and then wash it all. That way you would feel a little better about the underwear as they would be cleaner with the rest of the wash and you would only be using one additional extra small wash and soap extra. I have washed underwear with towels, but not with my dish towels and dish cloths, just my personal choice.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2003 at 11:46AM
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I use the prewash on my husband's shorts , socks , and hankies , then add the rest of his white clothing to make a fuller load , for the regular cycle .

    Bookmark   August 20, 2003 at 3:22PM
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I add Tea Tree Oil to things like sheets(hot water) or towels and fabric napkins(hot water) that I cannot bleach. Depending on the size of the load I add from 3or4 drops up to 10. When I take the clotes out of the washer I can smell the tea tree oil but after they go through the dryer there is no smell.
Tea tree oil is antibacterial.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2003 at 7:05PM
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I use Pinesol in my wash along with Tide non-bleach detergent. I read somewhere that Pinesol (or some equivalent pine oil cleaner) does a good job of preventing germs. Since Pinesol is a bit sudsy, I guess I could forego the Tide and just use all Pinesol but I like to "cover as many bases" as I can when possible.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2004 at 8:10PM
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generally hot soapy water will kill most bacteria. and overuse of disinfecting agents can actually cause resistant strains that become immune to disinfectants... i have started to get away from the antibacterial hand soaps - but sometimes its hard to find liquid hand soap that isnt antibacterial...

    Bookmark   October 10, 2004 at 9:39PM
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I have always washed white underwear with other clothes, never gave it a thought. I think we have all been "hyped" to death about germs/sanitize.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2004 at 10:24PM
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Next time your washing machine needs to be replaced, consider a front loader. Some models have heaters that get the water up to 205 degrees. Mine, a Danby sold at Home Depot for $400, has the second highest temp on the market at 200. Most others will go to 150 or 160 and that's considered 'sanitary'. The Laundry Room forum is a great place to lurk to pick up this info - a bit overwhelming, but you can ask anyone through a private email for more info. Those heaters + oxy bleaches sure do get whites white again!

Joepyeweed - yep, I'm with you. Phasing our anti-bacterials for.....castille soap! I find the Dr. Bonner stuff too thick for the pumps and have to dilute it.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2004 at 6:12AM
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Tide with Bleach. No drips. Hot water. Don't overfill the machine with clothes; make sure that there is enough room for the clothing to agitate.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2004 at 11:50PM
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soap and hot water?

a shot of oxyclean if you're paranoid?

I tried one of the organic detergents...did my clothes fine, left a nice citrus scent...

but I slept in a t-shirt that night, and woke up to find myself a plague monkey- MIL called them hives (I've never had any kind of rash besides ivy poison- this was scary)

a shower and a dose of benadryl cleared them up- but I'm not trusting the citrus based detergents again.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2004 at 12:05PM
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I also want to know if there is a good laundry sanitizer. I know when I wash dark colored jeans, socks, underwear, etc, and go back later to put them in the dryer, i notice they have a very slight musty-smell in contrast with how my clean whites smell (hot water wash/bleach). With the darks, obviously there is still bacteria or sweat or something in there still after the soap and water have been through. I want something to add to the rinse water to deodorize/sanitize the darks. I dont want to use hot water, just warm or cold, and obviously I can't sanitize use regular bleach on darks. Any ideas??

    Bookmark   December 8, 2007 at 3:41AM
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Alison, Vinegar is a great cleaner. I have high sensitivities to alot of cleaner fumes. I use vinegar as my fabric softener. It helps get rid of the suds that may be left behind during the wash as well as helping disinfecting and deodorizing them. I use it as well to clean my house. It is a great thing to mix half and half with water and spray in your shower to help with soap scum build up or lime deposits. We also use it in our dish washer instead of jet dry. Believe me if the medical staff require us to use it to disinfect my husbands c-pap machine for his sleep apnea machine, it will disinfect your whole house.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2007 at 8:23PM
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Tic, do you put the vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser in your washing machine?

    Bookmark   December 8, 2007 at 10:40PM
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I also use vinegar in my wash, and I do put it in my fabric softener dispenser.. Ree

    Bookmark   December 9, 2007 at 8:45PM
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woke up to find myself a plague monkey

Chinacat... You gave me my laugh for the evening! I have an 8 year old who regularly gets hives (at least weekly if not more often) and now we have a new name for her!!

    Bookmark   December 9, 2007 at 10:30PM
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:) wow - it's funny to see this old thread pop up...

and you can thank my husband for the term 'plague monkey' - and Dustin Hoffman, since he had the lead in the darned movie (the name of which I forget)

I didn't even realize it was an old thread until then, and was about to ask why people are now even more paranoid than during the Victorian era, when they were promoting porcelain bathroom fittings to help combat Cholera, and created an absolute panic about germs in general that had people bathing in bleach.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2007 at 11:14AM
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Contrary to popular belief, Pinesol is not antibacterial. That is a marketing ploy that people have fallen for. I use Borax in my white loads to brighten them instead of bleach.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2007 at 2:30PM
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Isn't Pinesol a petroleum based priduct? I used to like the smell, but I sure wouldn't wash my floors or do laundry in motor oil!

    Bookmark   December 15, 2007 at 5:02PM
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Isn't Pinesol a petroleum based priduct?

No, it's really made from pine trees. What makes pine cleaner a disinfectant is not the pine oil, but the other additives, Phenols and Quaternary Ammonium Chlorides.

I wouldn't put that in my wash.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2007 at 9:58AM
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I put a cup of hydrogen peroxide in the bleach dispenser (I don't use bleach at all) with towels or sheets. Just a little extra germ killing power and it makes me feel better.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2008 at 8:57AM
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Now we have to worry about germs on our clothes??

    Bookmark   March 21, 2008 at 11:32PM
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A regular cycle with regular detergent actually does very little other than spread the germs around. Bacteria, viruses and mold must be subjected to high heat (near boiling) for at least 30 minutes or be exposed to bleach or another sanitizing agent for 30 mins. A regular cycle will do nothing, germs are more than happy to live in the warm wet environment these are optimal conditions for bacteria.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 9:09AM
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I use Shaklee Basic-G concentrated germicide. It's easier on the environment and safer for your family than bleach, is EPA registered and Star K kosher certified. It's effective against more than 44 types of bacteria, fungi and viruses. When diluted (1/2 oz per gallon of water) you don't need to wear gloves, it will not harm septic systems and it has a pleasant light scent.

Here is a link that might be useful: Shaklee Basic-G concentrated germicide

    Bookmark   August 8, 2009 at 9:15AM
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I only do a bleach white load every now and then. In between I add ammonia to the wash for any clothes, it doesn't seem to smell as much as bleach.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2009 at 6:05PM
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Whatever is in Tide or PineSol do not use it. Bleach, omg. They are among the worst products on the market for our health. And certainly never use it on or near baby's clothing or baby. Everyone, stick to the to the natural. Vinegar, natural laundry soaps. If we quit making these big companies rich they will stop producing mass killer chemicals. So many of our illnesses now are caused and/or aggravated by the chemicals we put in and on our bodies. Just look it up. You will be shocked.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2011 at 11:25AM
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The old folks where I grew up use used sunlight.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2011 at 3:15PM
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Why all this fuss about germs when there are over 2 Billion people in this world without toilets? Soap and hot water are enough.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2011 at 10:39AM
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Hydrogen Peroxide is a natural substitute of chlorine bleach. You can also use borax in place of chlorine bleach

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 8:02AM
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Wash clothing any way you like, then put it in a dryer. I am sure the high heat will kill any bacteria present. Yes I am aware dryers use a lot energy and are not cost-effective.Also note the heat from a dryer may "set-in" stains. So you'll have a different laundry problem...

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 8:27AM
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