All of us use a huge range of fabrics in our daily lives. From clothing to undergarments to bedsheets, curtains, linens, and upholstery, our homes, offices, and social environment are constantly covered in yards of fabrics of various types and textures. While this is so much a part of our daily lives that we hardly notice it separately, yet we also easily lose sight of the number of microorganisms and potential disease-causing germs such fabrics can be hiding in their layers. Some of these are everyday pollutants and viruses while some others are outright infectious contamination of our clothing and linens.
What Is The Level Of Contamination That Germs Can Cause In A Fabric?
Let’s assume a hypothetical situation. A family member is down with scabies. A single scale of this contagious skin infection contains millions of scabies viruses, and any clothing in direct contact with their skin, including bed sheets, can result in the virus latching onto the fabrics. And any exposure to those viruses can make anyone equally vulnerable to a scabies infection. Your option to wash the clothing and all bedsheets are between regular home washing and professional dry washing.
If we hand washes such contaminated fabrics, there’s always a high chance of the washer’s hands and clothing also contracting this sickness-causing virus. If it’s machine-washed, the chances are that one contaminated item will spread the germs to 90% of the other items. Washing them separately from other clothing also doesn’t help as the virus, and sickness-causing organisms literally hang out, alive and kicking, inside the machine’s washer, even after the wash is complete and the clothing is taken out.
The amount of water, detergent, and the water temperature in the machine means nothing. Skin, respiratory, or a gut infection causing molds, viruses, bacteria, that commonly cause flu, colds, stomach flu, skin rashes, and even more serious conditions often easily survive repeated wash cycles.
What Are The Common Germs In Clothing And Linens?
There’s a long list of microorganisms and disease-causing germs that can be commonly found in our clothing, bed sheets, upholstery, and fabrics, and interestingly, even inside our washing machines.
These germs range from the notorious E Coli to the drug-resistant staphylococcus, from the benign flu virus to the menace called hepatitis A, from salmonella virus to norovirus and rotavirus, and many others.
In a recent study, it was seen that 60% of the household washing machines were tested positive for the coliform bacteria while 20% of washing machines had staphylococcus.
The bad news in all this is that not all of these are easy to eradicate and not even the hottest temperature of water wash can eradicate these to nil. Most of these germs easily survive benign detergents and hot or lukewarm water.
Then How Do We Rid Germs From Our Fabrics?
The Dry Cleaning process and its dryer, and not your home washing machine is the answer here. The process does tackle the most harmful microorganisms. Dry cleaning uses special chemicals to help get the dirt removed, and at the same time, the strong heat in the dryer does it for the germs! The steaming procedure at the end of the dry wash in chemical solvents, besides being effective for easing out wrinkles, also removes any unwanted residual materials and effectively kills bacteria.
It needs to be reiterated that Dry Cleaning is effective in reducing and removing harmful bacteria and viruses to a safe level, but not to zero bacteria.
Does The High Heat Steaming Process Really Kill Germs?
Undoubtedly, the extreme temperatures of steam pressing clothes kill germs, allergens, and bacteria. It kills not only sickness-related germs but even odor-causing bacteria and allergens. Steaming is originally geared for such a thorough cleaning.
High heat steaming procedures that Dry Cleaners use are the most effective and the safest way to get rid of the germs from our fabrics. The steam, reaching deep inside the fabric molecules, attack and destroy the disease and odor-causing microorganisms.
How Exactly Does Dry Cleaning Help Kill Germs?
Dry cleaning is able to tackle germs precisely because of the multilayered dry heat exposure of the clothing that would literally kill most organisms left in the fabric. Any high heat dry cleaning or drying for about 30 minutes is the surest and most effective way to kill various bacteria and viruses.
Usually, heating garments at a high temperature such as 200-220 degrees Fahrenheit inside the steaming section are very effective in killing almost all the germs. As the high heat from the steam reaches the fabric under regulated pressure inside the dry cleaning boiler, the microorganisms are attacked and killed off.
Further, as the process reaches its final stage of pressing, the finishing process also uses really high heat, of about 300- 325 degrees Fahrenheit to steam press the piece, which further kills off bacteria.
Which Germs Can Dry Cleaning Kill?
- E Coli
One of the most common bacteria found in clothing, bedsheets, and dirty laundry is the notorious E Coli or Escherichia coli, which gets easily killed in hot water. But to fully rid your fabric of E Coli, you need the high heat of a dry cleaning process and the clothes dryer. The residual E. coli can be killed only by treating the fabric in the hottest temperature available in the dryer and running a full 45-minute cycle. This is easily achieved in a professional dry cleaning procedure.
- Flu virus
Every year, we are harassed by this virus, and once infected by the flu, we often carry its virus on our clothes and bed linens from our everyday use of these things. We also contract the virus from the outside world and bring it home with our clothing.
Though again, the flu virus can be destroyed by wet washing in really hot water and the home dryer process, yet it’s easier and more effective in the dry wash procedure. Usually, treating the fabrics with very high temperatures ranging anywhere between 167 to 212 degrees F is needed to kill this virus. Again, the high heat from the steaming and the pressing procedures of the Dry Cleaners effectively tackle the flu virus.
The bacteria called Staph or Staphylococcus aureus is a Methicillin-resistant bacterium and a potentially nasty one. It is very commonly found on human hair follicles, skin pores, and the nose follicles. Staph bacteria is treatable but a potentially serious cause for skin infections such as carbuncles, boils, and pustules, but also some other serious, drug-resistant infections in any preexisting wounds, or in our bloodstream.
Staph bacteria can be contracted from anyone you come in contact with. This infection needs a thorough disinfectant process of all your clothing, bed linens, undergarments, and towels. While wet washing in really hot water can help, yet the extremely high heat exposures repeatedly in the entire cycle of Dry Cleaning effectively eradicate this bacteria.
So, Hot Water Washing Or Professional Dry Cleaning?
It’s true that we can kill some of the commonly found bacteria in your clothing and linens simply through using very hot water washing procedure and then drying in direct sunlight. However, some other stubborn and not so common bacteria can be treated only through extremely high heat that only the professional Dry Cleaners can reach in their Dry Cleaning machines and multilayered heat exposures.
Though commonly, almost all good quality fabric detergents and commercial bleach can effectively kill bacteria in our fabrics, yet, to eradicate germs and completely sanitize any fabric, the Dry Cleaning process is the easiest and most effective way. It not only saves one the hassle and the difficulties of reaching extreme temperatures in household machines, overexerting the machines, but it also exposes the fabrics to repeated high heat that home machines don’t.
Altogether, dry cleaning is the more effective and safer way to kill germs commonly found in clothes than home methods.