Does a clothes dryer really kill germs or is it an old wives’ tale? The answer actually depends on several factors.
In short, yes, a dryer can help kill some germs and bacteria left in clothes. However, studies have shown that the vast majority of germs and bacteria are not killed by washing or drying in a clothes dryer. There are several reasons for this, and several methods you can use to ensure that your laundry is as germ free as possible.
Most bacteria are very hardy and can live in extreme conditions. Heat may not be enough to kill many types, but it will kill some varieties. Make sure you wash your clothing in a hot water setting if possible, and use the highest dryer setting that is safe for the clothing material. Always adhere to instructions; more delicate fabrics may be ruined, shrink or scorched at high temperature settings.
Some modern dryers even have a “disinfect” setting and can dry clothing at temperatures exceeding 180 degrees Fahrenheit ( or 82 degrees Celsius), but most models do not come with this function. Bacteria that can survive high temperatures or live without moisture are likely to be unaffected by a drying cycle.
Pre-soaking your laundry or adding a cup of white vinegar with the wash can help kill some types of bacteria. Never leave your laundry sitting in a washing machine or dryer overnight; bacteria may collect and grow on cloth in these conditions.
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