Germ and Bacteria Hot-Spots: 12 Things You Should Know
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Claim: Letting wet clothes sit in the washer allows mildew to form.
True. But they'd usually have to sit for 24 hours, says Larson. Apart from smelly clothing, this could trigger an allergy or asthma attack. If your clothes have a funky odor, you'll have to run the washing machine again. If they still smell, you may have mildew spores, which can multiply into fungus (mildew) growth in your machine. To clean it out, run an empty cycle with hot water and diluted bleach once a month, and always leave the lid open between loads to let the tub dry out completely. You can also end with a bleach load to clean the machine. Laundry is a significant source of organisms, says Gerba, who swabbed 100 washing machines and found that 44 percent of them contained fecal bacteria. Drying will kill e. coli, but salmonella and viruses can remain. The risk of getting sick is small if you're healthy, but if someone in your home is ill, you may want to wash their clothes separately and then do a bleach cycle. You could transfer a virus by touching the clothes and then rubbing your eyes or nose. It's also a good idea to wash your hands after handling dirty laundry.
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