How Clean Are Your Clothes When They Come Out Of Your Washing Machine? Probably Not As Clean Or As Germ-Free As You Think…

by Rachel Bray

How to avoid bacteria in your washing machine and on your laundry

Washing machines, and the clothes that come out of them, should be clean and germ-free. Shockingly, this isn’t always the case. When the American Society for Microbiology looked into the implications of harmful bacteria being transmitted to babies in a hospital neo-natal unit from a washing machine, the results were worrying. They found “resistance genes, as well as different microorganisms, can persist in domestic washing machines”.

Germs can build up in your washing machine

Germs that go into the washing machine – think underwear, for example – can stay in the washing machine. The lower temperatures typically used by modern, energy-saving machines don’t kill all the bacteria in the wash. And traditional laundry detergents don’t always fully dissolve. Gunk builds up in the machine, particularly in the drawer, seals, and drum, creating the perfect breeding ground for bacteria.

Bacteria can then be transferred to your laundry. Luckily, most of these bacteria are not particularly harmful, although for babies, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems, they might be more serious.

clothes inside a washing machine seen from inside
Either way, bacteria in your washing machine and on your ‘clean’ clothes should be avoided. So, what should we do? Very hot washes and bleach are an option, but are bad for your clothes, your bills, and the environment. There’s a better way.

How to keep your washing machine clean and germ-free

Here’s how to keep your washing machine as clean and germ-free as possible:

  1. Ditch traditional laundry detergents and avoid gunk build up

Laundry pods are the worst offenders as they are coated with a plastic membrane which doesn’t always fully dissolve with lower, more energy-efficient temperatures or water levels. Neither do some of the additional, unnecessary, and sometimes toxic products in other traditional laundry detergents.

The non-dissolved bits end up as a brown, greasy residue that can harbour bacteria, dirt, and odours. It can be transferred to your laundry and can even lead to washing machines breaking down.

Melt laundry detergent strips are fully dissolvable in cold water because there are no unnecessary bulkers or toxic chemicals. There’s no residue left over to build up in your washing machine or to stain your clothes.

  1. Clean your washing machine every 4-6 weeks

Now you know that your washing machine can harbour germs it makes sense to clean it on a regular basis. There are various environmentally friendly ways to do this and we go into them in detail in our blog post Top Tips On How To Clean Your Washing Machine.

You can clean your washing machine by running it on empty at a high temperature on a longer cycle. There are various things you can add to help with the cleaning process, including soda crystals or vinegar: just check our blog post for details.

vinegar and baking soda in bottles for cleaning naturally

Once you’ve run your cleaning wash you will find it easier to remove the gunk with a damp cloth.

How to avoid bacteria remaining on your clothes

Once you’ve switched to Melt laundry strips and are cleaning your machine regularly you’re well on your way to germ-free laundry. However, there are two easy ways to destroy any remaining bacteria. You could dry your laundry on a really hot tumble dryer cycle (which we don’t recommend as it uses a lot of energy and money and can damage or shrink your clothes).

Alternatively, and the method we recommend for getting rid of bacteria, is drying your clothes outside. Ultraviolet light can kill germs so hanging your laundry outside to dry should see off any lingering bacteria.

3 t shirts drying in the sun

Start now by signing up for our Melt Infinity subscription service and look forward to cleaner clothes, a cleaner washing machine and a cleaner and safer environment.