How to Sterilize Laundry

Sterilization of laundry ensures that 99.9 percent of fungus, bacteria or viruses are eradicated from laundry items. While other methods of sterilization exist such as filtration, irradiation and high pressure, the best way to sterilize laundry is with hot water and/or with laundry bleach. And while a hot water wash using a standard washing machine will likely kill many of the bacteria you are worried about, the best way to be assured you have eliminated the majority of these items is to soak laundry in either liquid bleach or in boiling water. Both have long been accepted as sterilization agents.

Using Bleach to Sterilize Laundry

  1. Fill the bucket with hot water.

  2. Add one part bleach to five parts water.

  3. Allow the laundry to soak in water/bleach mixture for 20 minutes.

  4. Drain the water.

  5. Rinse your laundry item in cold water.

Using Hot Water to Sterilize Laundry

  1. Fill your largest kitchen pot with water.

  2. Set the pot on the stovetop. Turn the temperature to the highest setting.

  3. Wait until the water begins to boil.

  4. Add the laundry item to the pot.

  5. Allow the laundry to soak in boiling water for at least 10 minutes.

  6. Drain the water. Rinse the laundry in cold water.


  • While bleach is a great sterilization agent, it will also remove color from clothing. Unless your laundry item is white or you don't mind ruining the color, opt for the boiling water option in order to sterilize.

About the Author

Based in Charlotte, N.C., Virginia Franco has more than 15 years experience freelance writing. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications, including the education magazine "My School Rocks" and Work.com. Franco has a master's degree in social work with an emphasis in health care from the University of Maryland and a journalism degree from the University of Richmond.