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How to disinfect clothes: Top tips for sanitising laundry

Recently been ill from the flu or other viruses? Discover how to disinfect clothes and learn the basics, from how to disinfect underwear, to sanitising the whole wash. These top tips for disinfecting clothes will have them clean and hygienic in no time!


By Cleanipedia Team

Key Steps:

  1. Always check the care label of your garment for specific washing instructions.

  2. Wash your clothes with a good quality laundry detergent containing bleach, such as Persil Bio or Non Bio.

  3. Follow the instructions recommended on the label of your detergent.

  4. When a member of your family has an infectious illness, wash at higher temperatures, like 60°C or a temperature setting as high as the garment care label allows.

Whether it’s after being ill from a virus or simply for all-round cleanliness in the home, it is important to keep the household free of germs and a key part of that includes disinfecting clothes and keeping them clean. But how do you disinfect fabrics, clothing and underwear effectively? Read on to find out how to disinfect clothes with ease.

How to disinfect clothes when washing

Using a detergent that contains bleach is a good way to disinfect clothes and disinfect underwear, but it might not be suitable for all situations. Follow these steps to make sure you have clean, germ-free clothes.

  1. Don't overload your washing machine.

    A smaller load will allow the water and the cleaning products to move more freely around the drum and to work more evenly on the clothing. To find out how much is too much for your washing machine and other tips, check out this guide.

  2. Separate the load.

    If any clothing is particularly soiled, it is advisable to separate from the standard items to be washed. This is always a good idea, if possible, when it comes to underwear. This will prevent the relatively unsoiled clothes from being exposed to more germs in the process of cleaning.

  3. Read the care labels.

    On all clothing, it's good to check for any temperature/time limits, or any guidance on bleach or detergents to use. You can find an easy guide to understanding wash care symbols here.

  4. Use a high temperature wash cycle.

    When it comes to disinfecting clothes and sanitising laundry, we advise 60°C to make sure all bacteria and viruses are eliminated.

  5. Sanitising laundry with bleach.

    Standard laundry detergent containing bleach can be used in order to disinfect clothes. Always read the label on the detergent before using. If you have hard water, slightly more detergent than usual may be needed. If you don’t have a bleach-based laundry detergent, then try a laundry detergent that doesn’t contain bleach alongside a laundry additive like oxygen bleach. (Again, be sure to read the directions on the label first.)

  6. Clean the washing machine.

    Finally, ensure that the washing machine itself remains free from germs. Find out more information on how to clean a washing machine here.

Are your clothes feeling or smelling mouldy? To learn how to disinfect your clothes from fungus, check out our easy-to-use guide on removing mould and mildew from fabrics.

How to disinfect underwear and delicates

Your intimates are called ‘intimates’ because of how up-close-and-personal the fabric gets to your private parts. As such, it’s important to know how to sanitise underwear and keep them free from germs. Sterilising clothes helps keep them hygienic.

  1. Avoid harsh ingredients.

    Harsh chemicals and soaps can lead to irritation, itching and allergic reactions in your crotch area. When it comes to knowing how to disinfect underwear, we recommend using a hypoallergenic detergent which will be kind on your more *sensitive* regions.

  2. Separate your load.

    As shown above, separating your clothes is an important step when sanitising laundry and this is particularly true when looking at how to disinfect underwear. If you have any health issues when it comes to your crotch region, don’t mix contaminated underwear with clean underwear.

  3. Be careful.

    It’s also important to wash your underwear separately from clothes contaminated with other bodily fluids, particularly if you or someone you live with is ill.

How concerned are you about disinfecting while cleaning?

There you have it: learning to disinfect clothes isn’t an epic mission – you can simply use products you have at home already to safely clean and sterilise clothes. Give it a go yourself and keep your household healthy!

Disclaimer: The information in this article is accurate at the time of publishing. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it’s possible that some guidance may have changed since publication. While Cleanipedia is trying to keep our content as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations by using GOV UK and NHS.

Read other articles from the Clothing Care category

How to get colour run out of clothes

What do the symbols on washing machines mean

How to remove static from clothes

How to stop clothes bobbling

How to make clothes smell good and stay fresh

Originally published