The Best Way to Disinfect Underwear

Use chlorine bleach to disinfect underwear.

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If you think regular laundering is enough to get your underwear clean, think again. While most germs go down the drain when you wash your clothes, others, including E. Coli and Staphylococcus, remain in the fabric, even if wash your underwear in hot water. The germs are then transferred to the clothes dryer, and when you remove the item from the dryer, they are transferred to your hands. Although the idea that illness-causing bacteria is hiding in your clean underwear is frightening, germs are easily killed by regular use of household bleach.

Sort and Soak

Sort your laundry before washing and never wash your underwear or any other piece of clothing with kitchen towels. If your underwear is especially soiled, soak them in hot, soapy water for an hour before laundering. Don't attempt to wash badly soiled underwear with clothing that is only mildly dirty. Wring the dirty water from the underwear before washing them with bath towels or other clothing items.

Water Temperature

Hot water teamed with detergent and chlorine bleach is the best way to clean and disinfect dirty underwear. Warm water removes the soil from lightly soiled underwear, but won't clean badly soiled underwear, and won't disinfect the underwear unless you add chlorine bleach. Laundering with cold water isn't advised if you want to sanitize your underwear. If you wash with cold water, use chlorine bleach and plenty of detergent formulated especially for cold-water washing.

Washing Machine

Wash your underwear in your washing machine but don't overcrowd the machine. Allow plenty of space for the clothes to move in the water, because the friction of soap and water cleans the clothes. Use an all-purpose, heavy-duty detergent according to the directions on the package. Measure the detergent carefully, because too much detergent wastes money and may create suds that are difficult to rinse from your clothing.


To safely disinfect underwear, fill the machine with hot water and detergent. Measure 3/4 cup of chlorine bleach into your washing machine. Read the label for specifics if your machine is extra-large, or if your underwear is badly soiled. Add the underwear to the machine when the detergent and bleach are thoroughly diluted in the hot water. Otherwise, the bleach may create holes in your underwear. You can also use a sanitizing laundry detergent that contains chlorine bleach. Measure the sanitizing detergent according to label recommendations.

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