Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Dirty Laundry Questions and Answers

Q: Is it true that fabric softener sheets in the dryer would cause buildup on the lint screen and sensor bars, making the dryer work harder?

A: Some dryer manufacturers do discourage the use of dryer sheets because chemical buildup can clog the lint filter. Check your dryer manual or contact the manufacturer to be sure. One solution would be to use the
dryer sheets sparingly – no more than one per dryer load – and clean the lint filter after every load. The filter should also be occasionally washed in soap and water to remove built-up residue from dryer sheets. Note, too, that not all dryer sheets are the same. You may want to experiment to see which brand causes less buildup. If you are still concerned, an in-the-wash softener may be your best solution.

Q: Do today’s bar soaps and non-bleach-type laundry soaps contain any ingredients for killing bacteria? Washing in just hot water is not enough as it needs to be near boiling temperature, correct? So what kills germs and bacteria these days?
A: Detergents are effective at washing away many germs. However, sodium hypochlorite (chlorine) bleach remains the most effective way to sanitize laundry where germs and bacteria are a concern, such as with diapers or when there is illness in the home. Interestingly, in a study conducted at the University of Arizona,
the insides of 100 washers were swabbed to determine whether they contained residual “bugs.” They found that more than 60 percent of the machines tested positive for coliform bacteria, an indicator of fecal contamination.
To combat this, it is recommended that, wherever possible, chlorine bleach be used on underwear loads and that the bleach load is done first. As for water temperature, the hotter the water, the more bacteria will be killed. Your best bet for killing bacteria is to put clothes in the dryer. Machine-drying after washing and rinsing will help reduce lingering bacteria.