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28.02.2020

Do Clothes Dryers Kill Bacteria?

We have all used clothes dryers to quickly dry our clothes but do clothes dryers kill bacteria? The simple answer to this question is, yes, it can be accomplished.

While there is a bit more that goes into understanding this process, it is important to understand it all a bit more comprehensively. In the modern age of technology, it is easy to forget that things like appliances can only do so much.

Now, I am not a scientist by any means, but a little internet research has been informative! I've been able to form my own opinion about bacteria (and/or germs) and their lifespan in the dryer (as well as the washing machine!).

To really dive into whether or not a clothes dryer can kill bacteria, it should be noted that bacteria come in all forms. This is primarily in the form of harmful or unharmful. 

More specifically, harmful bacteria are said to be eliminated by clothes dryers if they reach somewhere around 150 degrees Fahrenheit. It is documented (https://dailyhomesafety.com/does-dryer-kill-bacteria-and-germs/) that only harmful bacteria can be knocked out with the heat of a clothes dryer.

Unfortunately, bacteria are everywhere but not all bacteria are harmful. The bacteria that are not harmful can survive extreme temperatures.

Modern clothes dryers are said to reach temperatures somewhere around 135 degrees Fahrenheit.

Some have been shown to reach higher degrees closer to about 176 degrees although this is a little uncommon. Since most dryers won't reach 150 degrees Fahrenheit, the hovering temperature of 135 degrees Fahrenheit will have to do.

Even though they don't reach the optimal temperature, they can still greatly reduce bacteria.

To further assess the process, it is important to note how long the dryer runs should be factored in as well. If operating a lower temperature dryer, it may be necessary to extend the amount of time it is in the dryer.

Typically, it is said that just 30 minutes in a dryer (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/13/science/how-to-kill-germs-in-the-laundry.html) will help lessen bacteria but when its a lower temperature dryer, this will need to be extended.

It would not be very cost-effective to continuously run the dryer in an attempt to attack all the bacteria lurking. In short, not all bacteria will be killed. How long the clothes are in the dryer and the overall temperature will ultimately determine their fate.

Can Bacteria Survive in the Washing Machine?

It is naive to think that just washing clothes (and drying!) will eliminate the bacterias found on clothing. Bacteria can survive in the washing machine and this is primarily due to how clothes are being washed in these household appliances. 

With concerns about saving energy, as well as money, the methods in which people are washing their clothes have changed throughout the years. One of the main changes that have become a sort of a bad habit is running washing machines in cold or cool settings (https://www.healthline.com/health-news/are-bacteria-hiding-in-your-washing-machine#Keeping-your-washer-clean).

A cold or cooler setting during wash cycles is what keeps bacteria lurking. The even shocking part is that they linger in the washer drum long after loads have left the laundry room.

Similar to the dryer, heat is the key to aiding in the process of reducing bacterias. Bad bacteria live in places like undergarments or people who have been ill's clothing.

These harmful bacterias will lurk in the washer if cold or cooler settings are used. While it is important to be energy efficient (and saving money!), something our overall health should be considered. Ideally, it makes more sense to make attempts to keep the washing machine as clean as possible.

This includes not only changing the temperatures of our washes but the process itself. It may seem tedious to wash clothing in too many separate loads, however, this can truly be beneficial to keeping consistent health!

I myself am adamant to make my laundry experience as bacteria-free as possible. To ensure this I've gone with a trusted brand:hOmeLabs Portable Washing Machine- (affiliate link). It might be worth a look at if you're keen on a compact washing experience.

Below are some pointers on how to keep bacteria mostly at bay as well as the upkeep of healthy standards!

  • Wash certain things separately

Things like undergarments and clothing from the sick should be processed as their own laundry loads. This keeps all the yucky bacterias contained and reduces the chances of it being spread to other clothing.

Just like other loads of laundry, they should be washed in the hottest possible water to bade off harmful bacterias.

  • Sanitize washer drums

Washer drums are the main culprit to lingering bacterias, especially if the hottest wash cycle is not being used. Some might say sanitizing washer drums seems strange since there is laundry detergent being run through the washer.

However, laundry soap is not intended to kill bacterias. Their primary purpose is to clean clothes of stains and odors. In order to tackle the issue of bacteria, bleach must be used. There are two ideal ways to sanitize a washer drum with bleach.

One includes actually running a wash cycle with bleach directly poured into the drum. For those wanting to watch their energy and water usage, the second option may be more suitable.

This option uses a bleach-water mixture that can be sprayed onto the drum and wiped clean with a dry cloth. Either way, the drum gets a form of sanitizing that greatly reduces bacteria.

What Temperature Kills Bacteria in a Washing Machine?

Similar to clothes dryers, washing machines can kill harmful bacterias at around 140 degrees Fahrenheit to upward of 150 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Most hot water settings on modern washing machines are thought to reach somewhere around 130 degrees Fahrenheit. With this in mind, also like its counterpart the dryer, it cannot completely destroy every last bacteria. In an effort to keep clothes as bacteria-free as possible, the hottest setting should be used.

Even though it cannot completely rid of all bacterias, the hot water cycle has other benefits to using it as well. It is a popular opinion (https://www.thespruce.com/wash-with-the-right-water-temperature-2146348) that the hot cycle can help linens dirtied up by stubborn oils etc.

Moreover, the cool cycles have their own purpose as well, so they aren't just being forgotten about either. Cold or cooler cycles can aid in keeping dark clothing looking dark.

Another reason why choosing an appropriate temperature for the needs of the wash can even include delicate fabrics like nylon. While this is not directly related to killing bacteria, it helps put the other temperature choices into perspective. If someone is really concerned about bacterias lingering on clothing, they should use the hottest cycle possible.

Does Washing Powder Kill Germs?

Washing powders and laundry detergents do not kill germs or bacteria. In fact, as expressed before, the main purpose of washing powders and laundry detergents is to get rid of pesky stains and odors.

Laundry detergents are made up of stain-fighting properties that absorb oils that cause stains. But since common detergents or washing powders can't get this job done, are there any on the market that will?

With all the advancements in the modern era, surely there's been some development in laundry soaps, right? Well supposedly, Lysol has gotten its hand into the laundry detergent business.

The Lysol brand is known for its aerosol sprays that kill up to "99.9%" of bacterias and germs. They have transferred this cleaning power into a laundry detergent that claims to sanitize clothing as well as clean. While this is a great innovation, everyone has their own detergent they prefer. This could be because of skin sensitivities or concerns of cost.

The good news out of this is that those wish to try the Lysol detergent can try it out. On the other hand, those who still want to use their old detergent can do so in combination with a hot water cycle. Both solutions help kill bacterias to the biggest extent that is possible!

Are There Other Alternatives to Killing Germs in the Laundry?

There are always some home remedies floating around that supposedly will aid with certain issues. In the case of the germs lurking around loads of laundry, there are some tested methods to kill germs in the laundry. 

The top methods that claim to reduce germs in the laundry include the use of peroxide, borax, and even pine oils. (http://www.howtocleanstuff.net/how-to-disinfect-laundry-without-bleach/)

When using these methods, there are precautions that should be taken into consideration. These include things like pets such as cats who cannot be around pine oils and the risks of peroxide include creating bleach like effects on darker clothing.

The best solution to reducing germs or bacterias is to stick with what is tried and true: heat. Running hot cycles as stated earlier will always be the ideal choice in fighting off any bacterias or germs. Although for some, it may never hurt to try other methods as some results may fair differently for people. But in the long run, heat is always the answer.

Does Drying Cleaning Kill Germs?

Drying cleaning is an effective way to dry delicate clothing that cannot be processed through traditional dryers. This process is known to kill off germs due to the actual process of how dry cleaning works.

 (https://medium.com/@DucaneRichmond/does-dry-cleaning-kill-germs-2a5bed4928d5) So what exactly is dry cleaning and how does it work? While most people associate dry cleaning with its chemical solvent that is used to remove stubborn stains, all the magic is in the drying cycle at the very end.

However, the last cycle of drying is not the only place where heat is applied during dry cleaning.

Dry cleaning, simply put, is a high powered steam process that reaches over 200 degrees Fahrenheit. But it is more than that, it is a multi-step process that applies a little more heat each time. The final drying stage is where it gets over 300 degrees Fahrenheit and bacterias and germs do not stand a chance.

Mime Petit

A home appliance enthusiast and creative writer.

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