Sanitation in home laundering


Material Information

Sanitation in home laundering
Series Title:
Home and garden bulletin ;
Physical Description:
8 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
United States -- Agricultural Research Service. -- Consumer and Food Economics Research Division
U.S. Dept. of Agriculture
Place of Publication:
Washington, D.C
Publication Date:
[Slightly rev. July 1970]


Subjects / Keywords:
Laundry   ( lcsh )
Disinfection and disinfectants   ( lcsh )
Sanitation, Household   ( lcsh )
federal government publication   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Statement of Responsibility:
prepared by Consumer and Food Economics Research Division, Agricultural Research Service.
General Note:
Cover title.
General Note:
"U.S. Government Printing Office: 1970-0-384-448"--P. 8.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
aleph - 004953188
oclc - 659732197
System ID:

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Home and Gaden Bulletin No. 9 U.S DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Home and Garden Bulletin No. 97 U. S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE



Prep,'l,' d by Cos'uminer (and Foo,, Ec.,lionmics
Research Division, Agricultural R ., ,i.,. Service

Research has shown that a suitable disinfie.tait ued during
home laund(trilng can prevent or reduce the spread of bacterial in-
fect ions by clothing and hou- ihold textiles.
Sanitizing-or reducing the total number of bacteria in the
fabrics to a safe level-can be done inexpensively, easily, and with-
out da ni age to the fabric.
This bulletin presents practical methods of sanitizing home
laundry. It reports the use of four types of disinfectants that the
U.S. Department of Agriculture found effective in killing bac.'tria
during laundering.
Such a disinfectant is often necessary because bh:ateria can re-
main alive throl ugh home l:lunderiing. Hoie laundering is defined
as any laundry done by the lhoiiieriiaklelr herself-whether in in-
dividually owned washing machines or in machines used by several
families, such as coin-operated i a:l-hi nes.
Bacteriaz can be transferred from one article of clothing to an-
other during laundering.
They also can remain alive on the inner iurfa'e of the wV:hling
Imachine, and be transferred from one lo:ad of clothes to another.

This makes it p,--ible for bacteria on tlie clot lies of one family
to be transferred to the clotlies of another family whenl a imachline
is used by several families.


In the laboratory, clothing and household textiles of nine fami-
lies were washed regu-larly for several months. An automatic
household washer and typical home laundry mntiehxls were used,
both with and without a disinfectant. Studies of the laundry
show that 30 kinds of !h:l.eria survived.
A few of these bacteria are potenlti:illy harmful. Among them
Sto',..i7 coccus awureus, frequently known as staph. This can
cause boils, carbuncles, skin infections, respiratory infections,
kidney infections, and other types of infections.
Pseudomonas aeruginosa, frequently known :ta the grn,.i pus
produiir. This can 'a;ime -kin and kidney infections. It often is
present in chronic infections of the middle ear.
Paracolon ba ;,-;,l '.. Some of the bacteria in this family pro-
duce intestinal disturbance-.


Neither the water temperatures nor the detergents used
under today's home laundering conditions can be relied on to
reduce the number of bacteria in fabrics to a safe level.'
Many bacteria, of course, are released from fabrics during wash-
ing and go down the drain with wa:-l or rinse water. But many
others stay in fabrics.

Bacteria in Washing

Both time and temperature are important in killing bacteria.
For example, it takes 3 to 5 minutes at 2120 F. (boiling water) to
kill Staphylo.c, ci, or 20 minutes at a water temperature of 140' F.
But the temperature of the "hot" water used in horne Iaulndering
is often less than 140' F. and wash cycles are not 20 minutes l(on)g.

SNo microbiological evaluation was made of commercial laundering.

"Warm" water is approximately body temperature-98.60 F.
"Cold" water r comes directly from the cold water fu li't; its
temperature varies with the season and gerraiphlical location.
Many more bacteria survive cold water lanlmeriiin than either
hot or warm water launderin-.

Bacteria in Drying

Some fabrics may contain large numbers of 1ba'i-tri:i when they
go into dryers. Automatic dryers and line drying cannot be de-
pended on to kill all bacteria in fabrics, but they can be depended
on to reduce the number of Lui.'t.ria. Survival of bacteria varies
with the size of the load, the drying temperature, and drying time. ,
When an awiulinatic dryer is installed, the exhaust should be
vented to the outdoors. This will prevent the "atornizing"-or
di-persion into the room-of bacteria rlc-ased from fabri,. during
All measures that reduce the number of bacteria in launder-
ing and drying will automatically improve the sanitation of
the fabrics.


Some hlonenmkers became aware of the spread of bacteria by
clothing and textiles when their families developed stubborn
infections. The infections spread from one person to another.
In response to requests from these homemakers, microbiologists
of USDA's Textiles and Clothing Laboratory studied bacteria
found in family laundering. Then they searched for a practical
way to improve sanitation of home laundering by the use of a
suitable disinfectant.
A disinfectant had to meet the following criteria to be con-
sidered suitable as a laundry sanitizer:
It must kill many kinds of b1acte ri a.
It must not injure or discolor fabrics.
It must not leave a residue on clothes that is harmful to
If used in the wash cycle, it must be compatible with the
det rgent.
It must be readily available and rea-nzrablle in cst.
Researi'her-i found that four types of disinfeotalnts meet ilheits
require n tns.


The following products are effective for use as sanitizers in
home-type laundering at hot, .warm.. or cold ir.'i'r t-emperatures:

Quaternary disinfectants

Quaternary dmi-ii,., tants are col-
orless and odorless compounds.
t-.'.i ",' ," :
Co-op lousethold Sanlitizer; avail-
able in certain supermarkets.
Roccal Brand Sanitizing Agent;
available in drugstores and from
janitors', hospital, dairy, and poultry
supply houses..
What to look for on the label:
"Benzalkonium chloride." The
products listed above also have
"n-alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium
chloride" on the label.

Liquid chlorine disinfectants

Lil ill chlorine disinfectants are
better known to homemakers as
liiqiii chlorine bleaches.
Puirex (liquid).
Fyne Tex (liquid) Bleach.
IIi-Lex Liquid Bleach.
Texize Bleach.
Red and White Brand Bleach.
Available in supermarkets
(or grocery stores).
What to look for on the label:
The label should state that it
contains 5.25 percent of sodium

The following products are effective for use as sanitizers in
home la;unlering at lwt and warn r,.f r/ tempe ra tui res:

Pine oil disinfectants

The pine oil odor is characteristic
of pine oil disinfectants.
Fyne Pyne.
Fyne Tex.
Texize Pine Oil Disinfectant
Available in supermarkets
(or grocery stores).
What to look for on the label:
The label should state that the
product contains at least 70 percent
steam-distilled pine oil. Such prod-
ucts will not leave an odor on fabrics.

Phenolic disinfectants
The phenol or carbolic acid odor
is characteristic of phenolic dis-
Lvsol Brand Disinfectant
Texize -.;1.i4 Centex.
Available in supermarkets
(or grocery stores).
What to look for on. the label:
"Ortho benzyl parachlorophenol"
or "ortho-phenyl-chlorophenol."

Trade names are 11ied in this guarantee or warranty of the
publication solely for the pur- product by the U.S. Depart-
pose of providing specific ment of Agriculture or an en-
information. Mention of a trade dor-eniment over products not
name does not (cst-itute a mentioned.


When there is sickness in the family or when laundry facilities
are shared, USDA microbiologists s ',.e-t the use of a disinfectant
in each load of laundry.
In using a disinfectant in your laundry, always-
Read the label.
Follow all directions and heed all pri,-;i it ions.
M;ia-in'e disinfe-l. nt carefully.
Add disinfectant to the recommended wash or rinse cycle.


Qnaternary Disinfectants

Add quaternary disinIfectants to the water at the .giiIIingL of
the rinse cycle.
Use the amount recommended on t le label. ()r add 1/ (c>p (4
ounces) to rilln- water in a top-loading machine. Add 6 table-
spoons (3 ounces) to rinse water in a front-loading machine.

Liquid Chlorine Diilnfectaint-

In using a liquid chlorine disinfectant, or bleach, observe warn-
ings on the bottle label. Liquid chlorine bleaches are not suitable
for u-e on wool, silk, spandex, or certft il dyed and finished fabrics.
Add liquid chlorine bleach to water and mix in before putting
clothei- into the w:a-linig machine. If this is not possible, dilute
blea:wh in 1 quart of water before adding it to the washer. Do not
use bleach in rinei-e water.
Use the amount of liquid chlorine bleach recoili niided for
bleaching. Usually, 1 cup (8 ounces) is added to a top-loading
machine; 1/2 cup (4 ouni'.cs) is added to a front-loading machine.

Pine Oil Disinfeetalnt-

Add pine oil disinfectant at the beginning of the wash cycle.
If po.-,ible, pour it into the water before placing clothes in the
Use 3/4 cup (6 ounces) for a top-loading machine and 1Cl cup
(4 ounces) for a front-loading machine.

Phenolic Disinfectants

Add phenolic disinfectants to either the wash or the rin-, water.
With a phenolic disinfert.ant, clontaining approximately 3 per-
cent of active ingredient, use 1 cup (8 ounces) of phenolic disin-
fectant for a top-loadinig imiachine or 10 tablespoons (5 ounces)
for a front-loa diin machine.


Sanitize the washing machine occasionally. This will kill
bacteria that live on the interior -iirfa-e.. Pour a disinfectant into
the empty machine; then complete a 15-minute cycle at the hot
water set t ing.
Because bacteria remain alive on the fibers in the lint trap, wash
the lint trap occasionally with hot water and soap or detergent.

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Sort dirty clothes and clean clothes at different times. Do not
shake dirty clothes near clean laundry, or near surfaces that will
later be used for sorting laundry. Shaking dirty clothes releases
bacteria, which then settle on nearby surfaces.
If possible, sort dirty clothes on a table or in one area; sort and
fold clean clothes on a second surface and in another area. If this
is not possible, cover the table or the work area with clean paper,
plastic sheeting, or any other clean material before working with
clean clothes. This will prevent bacteria from being redeposited
on freshly washed clothes. For the same reason, cover canvas-
bottomed carts with clean paper or plastic before loading them
with clean laundry. Such precautions are especially important
when laundry facilities are shared.

This is a CL2oUb4AMR g ehUkof USDA

Revised September 1',i;7
Washington, D.C. Slightly Revised July 1970
For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office
Washington, D.C. 20402 Price 5 cents

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