Harmful bacteria can be found in towels, workout clothes and bedding, and your regular wash and dry routine may not be enough to remove them. Easily sanitize laundry by washing it in hot water with the sanitize cycle. Read on to learn how to sanitize clothes and bedding.

The console of a Whirlpool® washing machine with a sanitize cycle.

How do I sanitize my laundry?

Sanitizing your laundry can be as simple as washing your clothes on a sanitary cycle or adding a laundry sanitizing product or bleach. Which option you choose depends on your washing machine and type of load. Be sure to check care labels to avoid fading or damaging the fabric.

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Option 1: Wash on a sanitary cycle
Check to see if your washer has a cycle designed for sanitizing laundry. The cycle, available on select Whirlpool® Washers, uses extra-hot water to eliminate 99.9% of three common household bacteria.¹ If your washing machine doesn’t have a sanitary cycle, use the warmest temperature setting available to optimize cleaning performance.

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Option 2: Add a laundry sanitizer product
If you don’t have a sanitary cycle or your laundry can’t be washed in hot water, add a laundry sanitizing product and wash as normal. These products, available from top household cleaner brands, can also be added to a sanitary cycle for an extra bacteria-fighting boost. Add sanitizer to your load based on product directions. Select Whirlpool® Washers also have a specialized Sanitize with Oxi cycle, which uses detergent with an oxi additive to eliminate 99.9% of three common household bacteria.¹

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Option 3: Add liquid bleach
Liquid bleach can be used in addition to a sanitary cycle, or for bleachable items that can’t be washed in hot water. Add bleach to your load based on the manufacturer’s directions. When using bleach, remember to spot test in a hidden area to help avoid fading or damage to the fabric.

Finish sanitizing in the dryer
The final step in sanitizing laundry is running it through the dryer. If your dryer has a designated sanitize cycle, we recommend using it. If it doesn’t have one, use the warmest temperature setting available to optimize cleaning performance.

Care tip: If someone in your house is sick, don’t forget to wash your hands after starting a new load. Or, you can wear disposable rubber gloves when handling soiled laundry and bedding.

Towels being washed in a washing machine.

How do sanitizing cycles work?

The sanitize cycle on your washing machine or dryer works to eliminate 99.9% of three common household bacteria1 by using an extra-hot wash or dry cycle. If your machine doesn’t have a designated cycle, use the warmest temperature setting available to optimize cleaning performance.

 

A washer and dryer pair in a laundry room.

How do I clean my washer and dryer?

You should clean your washing machine and dryer regularly, but especially after laundering clothes, bedding or stuffed animals that have been exposed to a sick family member to help prevent spreading bacteria.

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Washing machine
Clean your washer as directed by your machine, or at least once a month or after a family member has been sick. Learn more about how to keep your washing machine clean.

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Dryer
Clean your dryer as necessary, and especially after a family member has been sick to make sure it’s clean and in good working condition. Follow these easy steps to clean your dryer inside and out.

Learn more laundry cleaning tips

A hand setting a wash cycle on a front load washer

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Father and daughter playing 
with a clean stuffed animal

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What do those laundry symbols actually mean?

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¹Bacteria tested were S. aureus, P. aeruginosa, K. pneumoniae.