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Bacteria Lurks In These Common Places, But these Tips Can Help

The Bizarre History of Washing Machine Bacteria The hospital started conducting tests on their incubators, healthcare workers, and whoever came in contact with the washing machines,… Trista - November 29, 2019
How did people come to discover washing machine bacteria? Pixabay

The Bizarre History of Washing Machine Bacteria

The hospital started conducting tests on their incubators, healthcare workers, and whoever came in contact with the washing machines, shockingly all the tests were negative. Only the infants who wore the clothes were exposed to bacteria called Klebsiella oxytoca. It is mostly found in hospitals that are responsible for pneumonia, urinary tracts, soft tissue infection, and some blood infections as well. The hospital tested the socks and hats worn by the infants and found the source of bacteria in them.

It was only later that the hospital found that energy-saving household washing machines were being used to wash a large number of clothes. In further investigation, Klebsiella oxytoca was found in the detergent drawer and rubber door seal of the machine. To stop the spread of the infections, the hospital got rid of the household machines and replaced them with the large commercial machines. 

Bacteria that affect your washing machine. Pexels

What Are The Bacteria Affecting Your Washing Machine?

Only less than 20% follow the recommendations for cleaning and maintaining their washing clothes monthly. In order to understand the severity of the issue, you need to know more about the bacteria, possibly lurking in your washing machine that you suppose are otherwise clean. Let’s delve deep into the bacteria thriving in your washing machine, making it the dirty item in your house. 

There are plenty of prominent bacteria that are found in the washing machine. Some of the common names that are hazardous to your health include E.coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Salmonella, and Klebsiella pneumonia. 

  • Coliform Bacteria (E. coli)

Commonly known as E. coli, Escherichia coli is one of the notorious forms of coliform bacteria. It is commonly found in feces, and it contributes to fecal contamination. According to an experiment conducted by Dr. Gerba, a renowned microbiologist, it was found that 100 washing machines were contaminated by 60% by coliform bacteria and had a presence of 10% E. coli. This deadly pathogen bacteria can get inside your washing bacteria and contaminate it severely. There are many possible sources through which E. coli can enter the washing machine. One of the common findings for such contamination can be through your bathroom. 

No matter how thoroughly wipes after using the toilet, there will be some amount of fecal matter that will be left in your underwear. When your underwear is transferred into the washing machine, the pathogen bacteria can contaminate your laundry. And when you wear the contaminated clothes, E. coli can breed several diseases. Modern washers use plastics in their body and drummer that becomes a welcoming aisle for biofilms that comprises bacteria. E. coli is the most dangerous and commonly found bacteria in the washing machine. 

While many E. coli bacteria are harmless, some can make you severely ill. If you are thinking about what could E. coli possibly do by entering your washing machine, then there are plenty of symptoms of E. coli you must be aware of. Diarrhea, fever, bloody stools, vomiting, and painful stomach cramps are some of the early and common symptoms. In children, E.coli can be extremely severe, resulting in kidney failures as well. Hence, it is essential to safe-keep your washing machine from E.coli bacteria. 

  • Salmonella

A prominent cause of food poisoning, Salmonella is one of the dangerous bacteria that can enter your washing machine. Salmonella is commonly spread by coming in contact with a person who hasn’t washed hands. It is a stubborn bacteria and can be found in clothes that are cleaned at 55° C. Just like E. coli, Salmonella can also result in severe diseases.

The travel path of E. coli and Salmonella are quite similar. Hence, it is crucial to close all the loopholes through which these deadly and notorious bacteria can enter your washing machine. It is essential to clean your machine thoroughly after the laundry. The common symptoms of Salmonella are vomiting, stomach cramps, fever, diarrhea. Salmonella can easily stick on your clothes, making them contaminated. When you wear such contaminated clothes, salmonella bacteria come in contact with your skin generating several diseases. 

  • Staphylococcus Aureus and S. Epidermidis

Better known as Staph Infection, Staphylococcus aureus is a major cause of skin infection. It is one of the common bacteria that can be found in your washing machine then in your clothes generating several skin diseases. It generally only result in skin irritation and boils, but Staph, at its worst, can develop blood and bone infections. 

Staphylococcus and S. epidermis survive in the laundry at 50° C, as well as making cold water washes more vulnerable to these dangerous bacteria. Scientists advise that you need a temperature of more than 60° C to steer clear from the risks of these bacteria. Practice a regular cleaning regimen for your washing machine to make sure that your clothes and apparatus are not affected by the deadliest washing machine bacteria. There’s nothing you can do to make sure that they don’t enter your machine, you can only prevent them from causing a severe medical issue in your life. 

High temperature kills the bacteria. Pixabay

Low-Temperature Responsible For Bacteria Transmission

When it comes to finding the possible causes of such widespread bacteria, the temperature setting of your washing machine can be one of the significant reasons. There is a specific temperature at which your machine wash clothes. Higher the heat, the lower the bacterial transmission. The high temperature will help in killing the bacteria at the early stage, while the low temperature will give them ample opportunity to thrive inside your machine. It is essential to ensure the temperature of your washing machine to determine whether it is prone to bacterial transmission or not. 

Ordinary household washing machines are functioned at lower temperatures making your laundry prone to bacteria. Generally, they work at 40° C that is ideal for bacteria to grow in your washing machine and later on your clothes. These household detergents can only remove the dirt and stains; they are not capable of disinfectant cleaning. Commercial machines that are used in big industries, hospitals, public laundries, come with high temperature and have disinfectant cleaning. 

They are considered ideal for eradicating the possible bacteria from your washing machine. If you are using your household washing machine, it is advised to avoid cold water washing in order to prevent the bacteria transmission as much as possible. You would not want to contaminate your washing machine. Though the modern washing machines come with the feature of disinfectant cleaning at lower temperatures as well, it is vital to keep checking the temperature. Washing at a lower temperature is also safe for the environment as it saves power and energy. Let’s take a look at the different temperatures at which your washing machine works differently.  

  • 20° C: The most energy-efficient temperature at which you can wash clothes and also contribute to a cleaner environment. 20° C washing reduces running costs but does not work on the bacteria. It is ideal for washing delicate clothes, especially. There are high chances of developing molds in the washing drums while washing at this temperature.
  • 30° C: Best washing temperature for wools, silks ad dyed fabrics, 30° C is also an energy-efficient temperature to wash clothes. A majority of households wash clothes at this temperature. You would need a good detergent to get thorough cleanliness at this temperature.
  • 40° C: A slightly warmer temperature to wash clothes, you can clean all your cotton, acrylic, wool mixes, and polyester blends at this temperature. You cannot clean your delicate fabrics at this temperature.
  • 50° C: An ideal temperature to wash of stubborn stains and keep your clothes safe from bacteria, scientists advise to wash clothes at 20° C or higher temperature to steer clear from the bacteria transmission. 
  • 60° C: The perfect temperature to kill bacteria, viruses, and remove stains, this temperature is ideal for catering to all your washing requirements. 60° C is best suited for washing bedding and towels.

The higher temperature is recommended to kill the bacteria and removing the molds on the washing machine and clothes as well. According to NHS (National Health Survey), the ideal temperature to wash linen, towels, and underwear is 60° C, as it will help in killing all the possible and deadly bacteria. Especially when you are washing soiled clothes that have stubborn dirt and stains, you would need to use high temperature. Hence, it is advised to use public laundry if you need to wash more dirty clothes and avoid the risks of bacteria. 

Can you stop the spread of bacteria in your washing machine? Pixabay

Washing Machine Bacteria

So far, you must have learned how washing machine bacteria are harmful and how they possibly enter your washing machine, now the most important thing is to understand the ways to stop such widespread. There’s no second thought in saying that you need to keep your machine clean to prevent germs and bacteria from lingering in your machine and causing severe health issues. Take a look at the below methods of cleaning the washing machine to avoid the risks of bacterial growth. 

  • For effective and long-lasting cleanliness, you must do a little extra work in your weekly cleaning regime. Run an empty cycle once a week with a cup of vinegar or bleach. This barren run will make your washing machine disinfectant. Follow this method regularly to keep your washing machine free from bacterial accumulation. 
  • Mold growth is another major cause of dirt and bacteria growth in the washing machine. To avoid mold spores from developing in your device, keep your machine door open after the wash, so that it can get ample air supply. The moisture after the wash makes your device more prone to molds. 
  • Rubber or plastic ring of your washing machine door is also the hot spot for bacterial growth. Hence, it is crucial to wash them properly with an anti-bacterial cleaner at regular intervals. Cleaning after every wash is considered beneficial to control bacterial growth.
  • There’s a lint filter in your washing machine that collects all the fabric lint that is shredded from your clothes during the wash. It is essential to empty that filter after every wash as it can develop bacteria and germs from the lint. Empty the screen every time and clean the filter thoroughly at least once a week.  
  • Another brilliant way to keep your machine safe from the contamination is to sort the laundry according to the fabric. Underwear and towels are most likely to have pathogen bacteria that are significant causes of skin disease. Hence, they must be washed separately in order to avoid bacterial growth. It was found that a load of just underwear would have 100 million E.coli, which can further contaminate another laundry as well.
Is detergent strong enough to kill bacteria that is already inside of the washing machine? Pixabay

Can Detergent Kill Bacteria?

Detergent alone cannot impart much effect on the stubborn bacteria, but when combined with hot water, detergent can tackle bacterial growth. There are two factors that you need to consider while using detergent to kill the bacteria, high temperature, and the fabric you are washing. For instance, a wool cloth washed at 80° can make it shrink. Hence it is essential to check the label of your clothes and read the instructions for washing. 

Using hot water with detergent at a temperature of 40°C and more is considered ideal for killing the stubborn bacteria. For better results, you can also add oxygen bleach into it. For a deep clean, soak the clothes in the solution of oxygen bleach and water for half an hour before running it.

The ideal method to complete disinfectant cleaning is by skipping the tumble dry step of washing. Please don’t tumble dry your clothes, instead of spread them in the sun. It is one of the effective methods to eliminate the germs from the clothes. Give your clothes ample exposure to the sunlight, as the UV rays of the sun can kill all the possible bacteria and viruses present in your clothes.

Protect your home from germs. Pexels

Say Goodbye to Germs Today

There’s no doubt in asserting that your home is the safest place to reside. Protecting you from the cold, heat, and rain, your house keeps you from all the possible threats. But have you ever imagines that whether your sweet home is safe from bacteria and germs? Probably not, because though you clean your house, you cannot see the possibly harmful viruses. There are plenty of chances through which bacteria and germs can attack your home. From the kitchen sink to the toilet seat, every tiny corner of your home is brimming with bacteria that can make you severely ill. 

A washing machine is one such item in your home that houses thousands of bacteria. Though with the advent of technology, the latest washing machines come with germ and dirt free technology and auto-clean feature, they cannot get rid of the germs completely. Various studies and research have found that washing machines can become a haven for bacteria. Though it’s your machine that cleans clothes, it is essential to understand that your washing machine needs cleaning too to remain bacteria-free. 

The guide as mentioned above is everything that you would need to know about washing machine bacteria and the ways to steer clear from it. Prioritize your family’s health and make t a mandatory habit to clean your washing machine just like any other item in your house. 

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