A study suggests that a washing machine used at a low temperature could harbour harmful bacteria.
Why a cool wash may be good for the planet but bad for your health
Washing at 40 degrees rather than 60 degrees reduces energy use by half. But potentially harmful microbes may remain on the clothes. Heat is the key to killing bugs, according to a 2014 study. Washing at over 50 degrees for 15 minutes reduces the number of pathogens by 99.99 per cent. But you have to wash 90 minutes at 30 degrees to get the same result.
Experts say that underwear and towels should always be washed at a high temperature. A study in 2013 said that for towels, 50 degrees is sufficient to be safe.
The problem with washing at 40 degrees or lower is that biofilms can build up in the machine and be transferred to clothes. The study’s author recommends doing a 60-degree wash at least once every month and leaving the machine and detergent drawers open after a wash top allows the machine to dry properly.
What About Dishwashers?
Dishwashers use less water and less energy than handwashing dishes and there are no reported problems with using an 'eco' setting. The study found that the interior surfaces of dishwashers are almost germ-free. This is because dishwashers dry using steam, which sterilises them.
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