Bacteria linked to faeces on 1 in 4 items of children\'s washed clothing

Mon.30.Sep.2013 BST

The kids are back at school and our laundry baskets are constantly being refilled with PE kits and school uniforms. But how clean is our laundry when it comes OUT of the machine?

New research has revealed that all sorts of bacteria can be found on our clothes when we wash them at low temperatures, creating a ‘bacterial soup’ in our washing machine, with germs spreading from one item to another. In fact, 27% of the clean, washed items in the study contained coliforms – a group of bacteria linked to faeces.

Unlike our grandmothers who boil-washed and starched clothes, today most of us regularly wash at temperatures below 60° enabling bacteria to survive and grow in the washing machine and also be transmitted between items in the wash; for example, from dirty pants to sheets or from sweaty socks to bibs and blankets.

The study, which was commissioned by Dettol, took swabs from over 100 items of laundry and found that the levels of bacteria on the items washed at low temperatures were actually similar to the levels found on the unwashed dirty items. 

So what can we do about the bacterial Soup in our washing machines? Dr. Pixie McKenna joined us to give us her top tips for ensuring our laundry is really clean and bacteria free.

For more information visit