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Is it OK to wash dish towels with your regular laundry?

by Karen B. Gibbs / / Source: TODAY

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When it’s time to do laundry, most of us don’t think twice about tossing dish towels and cleaning rags in with a regular load. Is that really OK? Or are there items that shouldn’t be mixed with the rest?

TODAY Home asked Clorox’s resident cleaning and laundry expert, Mary Gagliardi (aka “Dr. Laundry”), to tell us all about it.

Wash separately:

Always wash heavily soiled, germ-ridden items like mop heads, cleaning cloths (especially for kitchen or bathroom) or items that are contaminated with bodily fluids in a separate load from regular laundry. Rinse solid matter out of items before washing as much as possible.

Wash with regular laundry:

On the other hand, you can certainly add one or two dirty dish towels or dish cloths to a regular load of whites. Gagliardi confirms that they won’t impact the overall wash process that much.

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Temperature matters

To clean clothes best, wash them in hot water — or the hottest temperature recommended on the fabric care label. Don’t just press the “hot” setting on the washer and walk away, cautions Gagliardi.

If the heater is far away from the washer, you’ll be adding a lot of cold water before any hot water makes it through the pipes. To avoid this, pre-rinse clothes on the “hot” setting before beginning the regular wash cycle begins. This will warm the pipes so that hot water is really flowing during the wash cycle.

If you’ve lowered the temperature on the heater, you’re probably washing in warm water. To avoid this problem, turn up the temperature of the hot water heater the night before you plan to wash with hot water.

Should I use bleach?

When washing contaminated items, such as bathroom cleaning cloths and mop heads, bleach can be added to kill germs in the wash cycle. Just remember to add it to the bleach dispenser and not directly on top of laundry.

For items that aren't safe for bleach, use the hottest water recommended to reduce germs.

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