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Old 06-26-2006, 08:07 AM
Lissa Lissa is offline
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How To Kill Germs in Colored Clothes?

A while back, I read a thread in which I learned that soap does not actually kill bacteria. (It was about those mesh shower poufs. Apparently, they're chock full of bacteria and it doesn't matter that they are saturated with soap in every use.)

It got me thinking about underpants. White ones can be bleached, of course, killing all germs, but what about colored underpants? I'm a bit squicked by the notion that my unmentionables may be carrying all sorts of ickiness . . . there's no such thing as "clean" underwear, in other words.

The environment in which my husband works is very unsanitary, and on occasion, he comes in contact with substances which he'd rather not. I had just been innocently chucking those things in the wash, believing that all of the germs were washed away. (Honestly, it probably would have been better for my peace of mind not to know.)

So, what commonly available substances could I use to wash germy clothing without bleaching it? I thought of ammonia, but I've never heard that it was a germicide.

Any ideas?

So, what sort of
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  #2  
Old 06-26-2006, 08:08 AM
One And Only Wanderers One And Only Wanderers is offline
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How hot a wash cycle would it take to kill bacteria? Or is this dependant upon the type of bacteria?
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Old 06-26-2006, 08:12 AM
spingears spingears is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lissa
So, what commonly available substances could I use to wash germy clothing without bleaching it? I thought of ammonia, but I've never heard that it was a germicide. Any ideas? So, what sort of
Ever heard of "Chlorox" or sodium hypochloride.
Works like the chlorine used to disinfect public water supplies to make the water safe to drink.
READ and FOLLOW the directions for use to avoid bleaching out colors!
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Old 06-26-2006, 08:24 AM
Avarie537 Avarie537 is offline
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IIRC, a couple of tablespoons of bleach in a colored load won't affect the colors but is enough to kill germies when used in conjunction with a hot wash cycle.
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Old 06-26-2006, 08:41 AM
Cheez_Whia Cheez_Whia is online now
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Lysol concentrate found at the bottom of the page.
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  #6  
Old 06-26-2006, 08:49 AM
CrankyAsAnOldMan CrankyAsAnOldMan is offline
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When I worked in the veterinary field, there was some kind of blue substance that we'd dilute. It smelled nice and was suppose to kill anything, but without bleach's damaging and lightening properties. Hell if I can recall the name.

I've heard good things about "Charlie's Soap" and just ordered some. I am not sure it kills anything, but apparently cleans the heck out of whatever fabric is holding the offending material & bacteria. I am not affiliated with this company in any way.

There is also product called Odo-Ban, findable at Sam's Club stores, which may also be an option. I seem to recall its label touting its numerous -icide properties.
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  #7  
Old 06-26-2006, 09:00 AM
DeVena DeVena is offline
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From Cornell University: Killing Bacterial/Viral Infections in the Laundry
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Old 06-26-2006, 09:07 AM
ZipperJJ ZipperJJ is online now
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I use Clorox for Colors in every load of colored cotton underwear, colored t-shirts and other stuff. Sometimes I throw it in with jeans or towels. Never had a problem and my colored clothing is bright as advertised.
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Old 06-26-2006, 09:15 AM
yabob yabob is online now
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Why should you not want to kill the germs that aren't in colored clothes, and how do you tell what the wee beasties are wearing in the first place?
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Old 06-26-2006, 09:18 AM
wolf_meister wolf_meister is offline
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How To Kill Germs in Colored Clothes?

The one thing that has me wondering is which germs actually wear colored clothes?
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Old 06-26-2006, 09:19 AM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
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Who said that detergent or soap doesn't kill germs? True, it's not anywhere near as effective as bleach, Pine-sol or Lysol, but it does kill a good % of the little bugger, esp combined with hot water.
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Old 06-26-2006, 09:20 AM
wolf_meister wolf_meister is offline
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Darn you yabob - got your remark in 3 minutes before mine.
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Old 06-26-2006, 09:41 AM
Szlater Szlater is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by One And Only Wanderers
How hot a wash cycle would it take to kill bacteria? Or is this dependant upon the type of bacteria?
Considering you get thermophilic bacteria that hang around in hot springs and around the deep ocean thermal vents I'd say it's pretty dependant on the type of bacteria.

However, pathogenic bacteria generally thrive in a small temperature band that is similar to the human body (iirc, 35-40C). That's not to say they can't survive at higher or lower temps, just that they do best in that temp range.

As for the best way to rid clothes of bacteria, imo it's simple. Dry the clothes as thoroughly as possible, preferably outdoors where the sun's UV light will add to the effect.
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  #14  
Old 06-26-2006, 10:49 AM
vetbridge vetbridge is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lissa
It got me thinking about underpants.
Aaah, I loves the way you think.
I was teasing my gf recently about the teensy things she wears under her dress. Surely they are so tiny a microorganism hasn't a place to hide.

One answer to your question has to do with organic debris. Get rid of any organic debris and the microorganisms present have nothing to keep them well-fed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CrankyAsAnOldMan
When I worked in the veterinary field, there was some kind of blue substance that we'd dilute.
A chlorhexadine product like Nolvassan?
A quaternary ammonia like Roccal-D?

Neither would be appropriate for Lissa's unmentionables, IMHO. (and yes, I feel strange having an opinion about Lissa's unmentionables)
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Old 06-26-2006, 12:36 PM
Smeghead Smeghead is offline
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Just out of curiosity, how many people do you know who have picked up bacterial infections from their laundry?
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Old 06-26-2006, 12:46 PM
Lissa Lissa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smeghead
Just out of curiosity, how many people do you know who have picked up bacterial infections from their laundry?
No one. I acknowledge that my concern is illogical and that I'm not going to catch anything or become ill from unkilled germs in my laundry. However, I have a nagging sense that it's gross and I'd like to find a way to sterilize my clothing simply for peace of mind. It's the same thing when it comes to touching bathroom doorknobs: I'm not going to get sick, most likely, but it seems gross to me, so I avoid touching them if at all possible.

As I said, my husband sometimes comes in contact with Very Nasty Things in his line of work and I'd like to make sure those germs are eradicated to the best of my abilities.
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Old 06-26-2006, 12:47 PM
Finagle Finagle is offline
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As DeVena's link points out, you're going to be putting those unmentionables through the dryer, right? The dryer is way, way hotter than any hot water you're going to be using to wash the clothes and the clothes are exposed to it for quite a while. I dunno if they're sterile after coming out of the dryer, but they're pretty close.
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  #18  
Old 06-26-2006, 02:06 PM
Annie-Xmas Annie-Xmas is offline
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Borax and/or vinegar are both germ killers. Adding white vinegar to the rinse water will kill germs and soften fabrics!
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Old 06-26-2006, 05:03 PM
Szlater Szlater is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Finagle
I dunno if they're sterile after coming out of the dryer, but they're pretty close.
They won't be sterile, bacterial and fungal spores would most likely survive, and the instant you touch them you'll be inoculating them with whatever viruses, bacteria and fungi you have on your hands. However, along with air drying, it would probably be the closest you can get without dousing everything in a antimicrobial and vacuum packing them, all done in a clean room.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie-Xmas
Borax and/or vinegar are both germ killers. Adding white vinegar to the rinse water will kill germs and soften fabrics!
At what concentration? Neat (or high concentration) vinegar may well be bacteriocidal but when it's dilute how effective is it?

**Just a quick thought** You could put the smaller items in a pressure cooker/autoclave for 20-30 minutes, and then dry them in a disinfected microwave. They would probably be as sterile as you could get in the home. I am not a laundress, but I would imagine that if your items could survive a boil wash then they should survive in the pressure cooker.
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Old 06-27-2006, 09:41 AM
spingears spingears is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrankyAsAnOldMan
When I worked in the veterinary field, there was some kind of blue substance that we'd dilute. It smelled nice and was suppose to kill anything, but without bleach's damaging and lightening properties. Hell if I can recall the name.
"Little Boy Blue" ??
That was used in times long past to make white clothes look whiter. Not an antiaeptic!
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  #21  
Old 06-27-2006, 09:56 AM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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Bleach will kill germs, no matter what color clothes they're wearing.






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  #22  
Old 06-27-2006, 10:12 AM
MsRobyn MsRobyn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie-Xmas
Adding white vinegar to the rinse water will kill germs and soften fabrics!
Add a little oil and garlic, and your clothes will smell like salad dressing. Always an added bonus!

Robin
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  #23  
Old 06-27-2006, 10:27 AM
vetbridge vetbridge is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Szlater
**Just a quick thought** You could put the smaller items in a pressure cooker/autoclave for 20-30 minutes, and then dry them in a disinfected microwave. They would probably be as sterile as you could get in the home. I am not a laundress, but I would imagine that if your items could survive a boil wash then they should survive in the pressure cooker.
Actually, this would be rough on Lissa's undergarments. More appropriate would be gas sterilazation with a product like Anprolene (ethylene oxide gas). The initial cost would be high, however, and I believe she would need an inspection of her facilities prior to purchase.
http://www.anpro.com/
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  #24  
Old 06-27-2006, 11:44 AM
irishgirl irishgirl is offline
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Why, exactly, is killing bacteria found on your clothing a priority?
The human body is covered in billions of bacteria, which only incredibly rarely cause us harm. Unless your husband has multiple open sores on his body or an immune deficiency, a few more germs are unlikley to hurt him.

Washing everything at between 40 and 60 centigrade degrees will kill most things, hanging them out to dry in the sun, or tumble-drying them in a hot machine will kill a lot of the rest, and a good ironing will do for the vast majority of the remainder.

If the clothes look clean and smell clean they're probably fine.

Worse than bacteria are parasites- my mother grew up in Africa, and all their clothing, including underwear, had to be ironed, in order to kill any eggs that had been laid in the clothing while it was drying. Jiggers burrow under the skin and are incredibly unpleasant.
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Old 06-27-2006, 04:20 PM
Lissa Lissa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by irishgirl
Why, exactly, is killing bacteria found on your clothing a priority?
The human body is covered in billions of bacteria, which only incredibly rarely cause us harm. Unless your husband has multiple open sores on his body or an immune deficiency, a few more germs are unlikley to hurt him.
Well, as I said, his work enviornment is very unsanitary. He works in a prison, and on occasion comes in contact with blood, feces and other bodily fluids. Hepititis is a problem in the prison. He has been vaccinated-- I have not. While I know the chances for germs surviving a wash and leaping from his clothing to mine are slim-to-infantesmal, I still would prefer to be on the safe side, just for my peace of mind.

As for underpants, it's just an irational ick factor.
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Old 06-27-2006, 04:48 PM
foolsguinea foolsguinea is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lissa
No one. I acknowledge that my concern is illogical and that I'm not going to catch anything or become ill from unkilled germs in my laundry. However, I have a nagging sense that it's gross and I'd like to find a way to sterilize my clothing simply for peace of mind.
Well, you're not likely to catch anything from your own, but if you wash somebody else's unmentionables with yours, then look out.

Or if you're trying to kill off a fungus you used to have....
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  #27  
Old 06-27-2006, 05:36 PM
bbeaty bbeaty is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by irishgirl
Why, exactly, is killing bacteria found on your clothing a priority?
The human body is covered in billions of bacteria, which only incredibly rarely cause us harm. Unless your husband has multiple open sores on his body or an immune deficiency, a few more germs are unlikley to hurt him.
I've found two worthwhile uses for chlorox-sterilized clothing:

1. I can accidentally forget the wet wash for a few days, yet it doesn't reek like a rancid dishtowel.

2. Sterile shirts, when paired with bacteriacidal deodorant such as Michum(tm), completely eliminates strong male armpit stench (and keeps it away for about a week, even if I stop bathing. I've tried this several times. I mean the not bathing for a week! The rest of me reeks, but my unwashed armpits will only smell as bad as, say, my sweaty week-old kneecaps. Fairly amazing.)

After demonstrating #2, I conclude that the soapy laundry and hot dryer environment is a breeding ground for a certain stench-causing thermophile bacteria. FOrtunately it's easily sterilized with chlorine bleach.
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  #28  
Old 06-27-2006, 08:50 PM
HMS Irruncible HMS Irruncible is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lissa
No one. I acknowledge that my concern is illogical and that I'm not going to catch anything or become ill from unkilled germs in my laundry. However, I have a nagging sense that it's gross and I'd like to find a way to sterilize my clothing simply for peace of mind. It's the same thing when it comes to touching bathroom doorknobs: I'm not going to get sick, most likely, but it seems gross to me, so I avoid touching them if at all possible.

As I said, my husband sometimes comes in contact with Very Nasty Things in his line of work and I'd like to make sure those germs are eradicated to the best of my abilities.
After reading through this and your previous thread, I have seriously considered using a "dirty" washing machine just for socks and undies (I have a spare machine and space for hookups). Not as good as sterilization with bleach and high-energy radiation, but probably good enough for all practical purposes.
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  #29  
Old 06-27-2006, 09:16 PM
Alice The Goon Alice The Goon is offline
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I was probably the one that started the thread about the shower poufs. I work in a dermatology office, and the numbers of people we see with skin infections from something as innocuous as a shower poof is amazing to me. Of course, the humidity is very low here much of the time, and skin gets very dry, which makes it more susceptible to infection, so maybe we get more infections that less-dry parts of the country.

So many people think it's silly to worry about germs all that much, but I look at it like this: I call around 10 people every week to notify them that they have a bacterial infection of the skin. There are 7 other people in my office that also do this. We are only 1 office in 1 town. Maybe we do more bacterial cultures than other doctor's offices? I've worked in an urgent care and a primary doctors, and it was like this at those places, too.

There's lots of bacteria running amok out there! Sure, it probably won't kill you, but I've seen some very unpleasant non-fatal effects of pathogens. Going to the infectious disease specialist every day for several hours of IV antibiotics for 6 weeks or more would really cramp my lifestyle.

And don't even get me started on viruses, molds, yeasts, and fungi.


If my husband worked in a prison, which can be a hotbed of bacteria, I'd wash my clothes separately, before his, and disinfect the washer after his. His in hot water, and a hot dryer should be enough.
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