How often do you wash your clothes washing machine?  If it has been a while, it might scare you to know what your clothes might be dirtier after a wash than before!  Your washing machine deals with many germs on a daily basis.  Think of all the sweaty clothes, soiled towels, and dirty underwear. Your washing machine can turn into a huge ecosystem of bacteria and germs transferring much of those germs back onto your clothes.  Laundry detergent does not kill the germs and bacteria and viruses can survive a cold-water wash.  The germs found in washing machines and therefore on your clothes can make you sick.  How sick depends on your immune system.  The elderly, young kids and those who are immunocompromised are more susceptible to the viruses found in washing machines. Depending on the germs, illnesses can result in diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, stomach pain, fever, pink eye, pneumonia, headaches, etc.

How often should you wash your washing machine?  Ideally once a month. If you have young children and therefore a greater chance of infectious germs in the wash, once a week.

How to wash your washing machine:

  • Wipe out the inside of the machine and the seals around the door with an all-purpose cleaner.
  • Clean the filters and drain
  • Run an empty load with hot water and bleach (best to double check your user manual to see if there is anything special your washer needs)  In order to kill the viruses and bacteria the water temperature needs to exceed 40-60 degrees Celsius.

Here are some other tips:

  • If you sort your clothes before washing on a countertop or table, disinfect the area after (including your hands)
  • Wash your hands after sorting laundry or after moving a load from the wash to the drier.
  • If you wash your clothes in cold water, use bleach whenever possible to help kill bacteria and viruses.
  • Always wash underwear and diapers with bleach and separately.  Ideally as the last load (to avoid contamination to other loads).
  • Dry your clothes on high heat