Wash up on washday
Just how clean are your just-laundered clothes? If you’re like most Americans, not very. Only 5 percent of Americans now regularly wash their underwear and towels in water that’s hot enough—at least 160° F—to kill bacteria, according to University of Arizona environmental microbiologist Charles Gerba, Ph.D. That means live bacteria can spread from one garment to another; when when you remove your wet laundry, those live germs can get on your hands. Touch your mouth or rub your eyes and you might get a cold, an infection, or even E. coli.
Your defense: unless you use bleach or your wash water is 160° F or hotter, head to the sink for a soapy hand wash immediately after putting laundry into the dryer (which is hot enough to kill bacteria). “In order to kill germs, you need to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, and use plenty of soap and hot water,” says Gerba. It’s also wise to regularly use a commercial sanitizer to wipe the bottoms of handbags, which collect dangerous germs when placed on tabletops and public-restroom floors.
5 years ago