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

How hot a wash cycle would it take to kill bacteria? Or is this dependant upon the type of bacteria?

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!

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.

Lysol concentrate found at the bottom of the page.

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.

From Cornell University: Killing Bacterial/Viral Infections in the Laundry

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.

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?

How To Kill Germs in Colored Clothes?

The one thing that has me wondering is which germs actually wear colored clothes? :smiley:

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.

Darn you yabob - got your remark in 3 minutes before mine. :frowning:

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.

Aaah, I loves the way you think.:wink:
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.

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):wink:

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.

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.

Borax and/or vinegar are both germ killers. Adding white vinegar to the rinse water will kill germs and soften fabrics!

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.

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.

“Little Boy Blue” ??
That was used in times long past to make white clothes look whiter. Not an antiaeptic!