Master the art of laundry: from disinfection to sustainable practices

Master the art of laundry: from disinfection to sustainable practices

Everyone does laundry, but what really happens when we toss our clothes into a washing machine or a dryer? Does it really decontaminate and sanitize our garments? It’s a pertinent question, especially in this era where hygiene carries immense importance due to the pandemic. I always believe in having a clear and factual understanding of things we often take for granted, and laundry is today’s subject.

The washing machine’s role in disinfection

Washing machines serve as the first step in the cleaning process of our clothes, from casual wear to bed linens, nothing evades its cleansing cycle. However, does it indeed disinfect? The answer depends, in part, on the temperature of the water you use for washing. Hot water—around 140°F or higher—can kill off many kinds of germs and majority of bacteria on your clothes. But before you crank the heat way up, consider the sustainability aspect and your energy invoice. High temperatures can cause clothing shrinkage or damage and are not good for the environment.

Alternatives to hot water washing

The good news is that heat isn’t the only method to disinfect your clothes. Using a detergent that contains bleach or a bleach additive can help to effectively eliminate bacteria and viruses, even in cold water. This is an ideal solution for those of us who prioritize both cleanliness and sustainability.

Disinfection through the dryer

The concept of disinfecting your laundry doesn’t end with washing, though. It extends into the drying process too. The heat produced during the dryer’s cycle can further assist in killing bacteria and viruses. National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) International recommends a dryer temperature of at least 135°F to effectively sanitize clothes.

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Optimizing the dryer for disinfection

In order to optimize the dryer’s disinfection capabilities, we might be tempted to extend the heat and duration of the drying cycle. However, remember that excessive heat and prolonged cycles can be damaging to clothing materials and energy consumption. There are fabric-friendly ways to achieve a balance, like using dryer balls which creates space for the heat to circulate more efficiently.

But wait, here’s something we shouldn’t forget. Not everyone owns a dryer, particularly those who live in apartments where space is a constraint. Simply hanging your clothes to dry in the sunlight can do some disinfection too. Sunlight’s UV rays have natural disinfecting properties and besides, air-drying your clothes is a wonderful way to save on energy bills and contribute to a sustainable lifestyle.

So, after this inquisitive tour of our laundry room, you might be thinking about your own washing and drying practices. Good! Reflecting on our daily habits is the first step towards improvement. Remember, the process of doing laundry involves more than just cleaning; it also incorporates the act of disinfecting, a responsibility we have for our health and that of our loved ones. And, while doing so, let us not miss out on the opportunities to incorporate sustainable practices. After all, our everyday actions are the threads that weave the fabric of our shared world. Let’s make them count!

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