Can You Put Disinfectant in a Washing Machine

Can You Put Disinfectant in a Washing Machine? Definitive Guide

Guess what? Your washing machine and the laundry items both need a disinfection process at some point. Sometimes, getting rid of the dirt alone won’t do you any good. You can’t trace the germs and viruses that have been around your washing machine for ages. But, can you put disinfectant in the washing machine?

The short answer is yes. You can put disinfectant in the washing machine, and it’s absolutely fine. Now, there are some users who say that putting disinfectant inside the washing machine can potentially cause some damage, but the fact is believed to be a myth. However, then again, it’s always better to be cautious. 

In this guide, I will discuss the compatibility of disinfectants in the washing machine with proper usage procedures. Read on to learn more. 

Can You Put Disinfectant in a Washing Machine? The Items You Can Put

As we’ve said, you can put disinfectant in a washing machine. Let’s talk about the two most common disinfectants to use in washing machines.

Chlorine Bleach

Chlorine bleach is like the superhero of disinfectants. You can use chlorine bleach in most clothes, except for wool silk and dyed clothes. It’s known for its germ-fighting abilities, taking on bacteria, viruses, and fungi like a champ, but it’s pretty harsh due to its oxidizing properties. So, whenever you use it, use it with caution unless you want to do some real damage to the fabric. 

Regardless of its harshness, it’s your go-to for tackling stubborn stains, nixing odors, and making your whites shine bright. But you’ve got to handle it with care. 

Dilution is your friend to avoid fabric damage, and when you’re using it, make sure there’s some fresh air around. And please, don’t even think about mixing it with other cleaners; that’s a no-go.

White Vinegar

White vinegar is like the handy, eco-friendly sidekick in your cleaning crew. It’s a natural disinfectant that’s gentle but effective. When it comes to your washing machine, it’s the go-to solution for removing mineral deposits, scale, and any funky odors that might be lingering. 

The best part? It’s kind to the environment, being non-toxic and biodegradable. 

Alongside these two, you can also use

  • Pine oil
  • Phenolic disinfectants
  • Quaternary disinfectants

In our opinion, it’s better to use chlorine bleach. Bleach is more effective than white vinegar. But then again, whichever you use, the instruction remains somewhat the same.

How to Disinfect Washing Machine  By Using Chlorine Bleach

Follow this step-by-step process to disinfect your washing machine effectively.

Step 1: Adjust the Water Temperature for the Perfect Clean

You have to set the water temperature on your washing machine to the hottest option available. We prefer going for 60 degrees Celsius.  It’s crucial that the washer drum is entirely empty during this phase.

Step 2: Introduce Chlorine Bleach for a Deep Clean

Once you’ve got the temperature dialed in, it’s time to bring in the chlorine bleach.  One cup of chlorine bleach should do the job. Pour it into the empty washer drum. 

Keep in mind that it works with both front-load and top-load models.  Make sure to double-check that no clothing or items are lurking in there.

Step 3: Select the Appropriate Washer Cycle for a Thorough Rinse

It’s time to select the right washing cycle. If your washing machine offers the option, go for a full cycle. In this scenario, we would recommend a hot water rinse. 

Step 4: Dive into Cleaning Mode- Scrub the Interior Components

Now that your washing machine is hard at work, it’s a good time to inspect its insides. Take a closer look at the rubber seals, gaskets, and the interior of the door or lid. These are common spots for residue or mold buildup. 

Don’t forget to cross-check the detergent and fabric softener dispensers. Create a cleaning solution by mixing 1/4 cup of chlorine bleach with 1 quart of water. 

Get a cloth or a soft-bristled brush. Now dip it into the solution and start scrubbing these areas to eliminate any grime.

Step 5: Ensure a Sparkling Finish with a Final Rinse

To wrap up the process, it’s always crucial to perform a final rinse. Set your washing machine to the rinse/spin cycle and let it run its course. This final rinse will remove all the traces of bleach. Once done, your washing machine should be good to go.

Step 6: Don’t Forget the Exterior: Cleaning the Washer’s Outer Shell

Last but certainly not least, let’s talk about the exterior. Wipe down the top, front, and sides of your washing machine. You can use a mixture of a mild cleanser and hot water.  Rinse it off with clean water and gently dry it using a soft cloth.

How Can I Disinfect My Clothes in the Washing Machine?

Disinfecting the clothes you wear is a completely different thing than the washing machine. Many people tend to mix things up. We’ve talked about disinfecting the machine. Let’s talk about how you can disinfect your clothes. 

Sorting and Preparation

Before you start the disinfection process, sort your laundry into separate items that can be disinfected together. Group similar materials, colors, and fabric types. 

Selecting the Right Temperature

Choose the appropriate water temperature for disinfection. Hot water is effective in killing bacteria and viruses. For most fabrics, select a temperature of at least 140°F (60°C). If you’re wearing colorful clothes, you have to use cold water that is 59°F (15 °C) or less. Make sure you follow the care instructions on the garment’s label.

Detergent Choice

Use a good-quality laundry detergent. There are detergents that come with enzymes and surfactants. These help break down and remove germs from your clothes. 

Pre-soak If Necessary

For heavily soiled or contaminated items, consider pre-soaking them before starting the washing machine. You can use a mixture of water and disinfecting laundry additives in a bucket for this purpose.  

Load Your Washing Machine

Sort the laundry and keep them in the drum of the washing machine. Don’t overload it. Overloading can prevent proper agitation and cleaning. Leave enough space for clothes to move freely.

Adding Disinfecting Agents

If you want, you can add a disinfecting laundry additive like white vinegar to the wash cycle. Don’t mix chlorine with vinegar. Chlorine additives can include products containing hydrogen peroxide or quaternary ammonium compounds. Otherwise, these can create an acid called peracetic, which is toxic and harmful to health and clothes. 

Washing Cycle Selection

Choosing the right wash cycle is very important here. Many modern washing machines have a “sanitize” or “disinfect” cycle that’s designed to kill germs effectively. Alternatively, you can select a longer wash cycle with a high-temperature setting.

Completing the Wash

Once you’ve completed the wash cycle, take the disinfected clothes to the dryer. Avoid leaving wet clothes in the washing machine for an extended period. Otherwise, this can lead to mold growth.


For further disinfection, you can use a hot drying cycle in the dryer. The heat will help kill any remaining bacteria or viruses in your clothes. 

Clean the Washing Machine

While we’re talking mainly about disinfecting clothes, here, too, you need to clean the washing machine. Clean the drum, detergent dispensers, and the exterior of the machine to prevent the build-up of germs.

Can You Use Normal Dettol in a Washing Machine?

When we say ‘normal Dettol’, we’re focusing on ‘Dettol Liquid’ here. Now, Dettol Liquid is basically an antiseptic used mainly for first aid, personal hygiene issues, and medical purposes. 

But we also get a lot of questions about whether people can use it on washing machines. The reason is that they’re a bit on the cheaper side compared to other Dettol products.

The answer is yes. However, it’s always best to use Dettol Washing Machine Cleaner if you want the best results. For clothes, specifically, you can try the Dettol Laundry Sanitizer. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some possible questions that can cross your mind.

1. Can you put disinfectant in the washing machine drawer?

Washing machine drawers often have bacteria, molds, and mildew. For better results, first, you need to take out the drawer. Spray antibacterial cleaner on it. Now, scrub it gently. Once done, rinse it with water and wipe dry it. 

2. What is a natural disinfectant for washing?

White vinegar is considered to be the best disinfectant for washing machines. Even though it’s very safe compared to other disinfectants, it might not be the most effective solution out there.

3. How many times should I disinfect my washing machine?

It’s recommended to clean your washing machine once a month. Or you can clean your washer after every 30 cycles. These are the opinions of experts. 

4. How long does it take to sanitize a washing machine?

It will take you less than 30 minutes to sanitize your washing machine if you do things correctly. 

Wrapping Up! 

So, that’s pretty much everything on ‘Can you put disinfectant in the washing machine?’ Now, this whole process may seem a bit easier, but it’s always a hard nut to crack if you want the best results. Plus, one wrong move can damage your washing machine. So, make sure you contact an expert on this matter first.

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