Whether someone at home has been sick or the clothes from this weekend's camping trip are excessively dirty, everyone needs a laundry boost as well as a disinfectant from time to time. While bleach is a go-to choice for white colors, people often have more difficulty choosing a laundry disinfectant safe for colored clothing. Look no further than under your kitchen sink, standard household disinfectants such as Lysol work well in the laundry.
Pine Oil and Ammonia
Researchers at Cornell University Cooperative Extension recommend using household cleaners that contain pine oil for the laundry, as the pine oil acts as a safe and natural disinfectant. Those who do not like the smell of pine-scented cleaners on clean clothes should read labels carefully. Often products with the same cleaning ingredients come in different scents, and the cleaners may contain pine oil without smelling of pine. Standard liquid Lysol disinfectant comes in both pine and orange scents. Both scents work equally well in the laundry, according to Angela Reinhart of the University of Illinois Extension. Products containing ammonia also disinfect laundry and other surfaces effectively.
Adding the Disinfectant
To use Lysol or another liquid-based disinfectant in the laundry, add about ¾ cup to one cup of the product. For larger loads or heavily soiled loads, use a full cup, while smaller loads only require 3/4 cup. Add the disinfectant just as you would add bleach or color-safe bleach to the laundry. Rather than adding the product to the rinse cycle, the experts at Clorox recommend adding bleach or disinfectant five minutes into the wash cycle. You may also add the disinfectant product to the washing machine's bleach dispenser and it will interject the product into the laundry at the appropriate time.
Benefits Compared to Bleach
In addition to preventing accidents with damaging colored clothing, using a liquid disinfectant has another benefit over bleach. Liquid disinfectant products work well at a number of temperatures. Unlike with bleach, it is not necessary to wash clothing in hot water for a disinfectant to work properly. Some clothing manufacturers recommend washing in cold water only, while others choose to use cold water in an effort to save energy or extend the life of clothing.
When using a liquid disinfectant product in the washing machine, never use bleach at the same time. The New Jersey State Department of Health warns that mixing chlorine bleach product with Lysol or another disinfectant may be dangerous. In addition to pine oil, these products may contain ammonia. When ammonia and bleach combine, a toxic gas known as chloramine is produced. Exposure to this gas may result in coughing, shortness of breath, throat irritation, eye irritation and nausea. People exposed to chloramine fumes may also develop pneumonia. If exposure occurs, contact your local emergency department or poison control.
- University of Illinois Extension; Ask Extension; Lysol Disinfectant; Angela Reinhart.
- University of Illinois Extension; Ask Extension; Sanitizing Laundry; Mary Ann Fugate.
- Clorox: Laundry Room 101: How to Add Bleach to Your Laundry
- New Jersey Department of Health: Common Cleaning Products May Be Dangerous When Mixed
A freelance writer for various online publications, Erin Maurer covers travel destinations, gardening and home decorating projects. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communication studies from Widener University in Chester, Pa.