Sometimes it's not enough to get a stain out of a pair of pants or a smell out of the laundry. On occasion, you may need to disinfect your clothing, particularly if your family has been ill recently. When you need to disinfect, look in your pantry. You may find you have everything you need right at your fingertips. Hot water is also your friend when disinfecting and often the only thing you need to get rid of a nasty stain or odor.
White vinegar combined with your regular laundry soap or added to the wash with a cup of baking soda makes an effective laundry cleaner and disinfectant. It is particularly helpful as a prewash when disinfecting is required. Aslo, if you use cloth diapers, add a cup of white vinegar to the diaper pail and rinse to kill bacteria and deodorize the pail.
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Bleach, when added to the laundry on its own or in combination with your laundry detergent, is a very effective disinfectant. Unfortunately, it not only bleaches colored clothing, but it can start to disintegrate your clothing if you use it often. Only add bleach to the laundry occasionally, when a very bad stain, such as one caused by mold or mildew, is present.
Ammonia is a very harsh disinfectant that can be added in small amounts to laundry loads. Add about 1/4 cup to a large load of laundry if harsh disinfection is absolutely needed, such as in the case of illness. Never mix ammonia with bleach as the combination creates a poisonous gas that can make you very ill.
When added to your laundry or directly to a stain, hydrogen peroxide is an effective stain remover and disinfectant. It is nontoxic and kills bacteria almost immediately. While peroxide can be poured into a laundry load with colored clothing, do not pour it directly on anything that isn't white as it will bleach it. Add 1/2 cup of peroxide to your laundry once the water is running to prevent any bleaching.