How Do I Choose the Best Laundry Sanitizer?

Tiffany Manley

A laundry sanitizer is a popular product that may be used in a number of situations, such as keeping household members from contracting a viral infection that has entered the home. A variety of options are generally available and their use is generally determined by the type of fabric being laundered, the temperature of the water being used, and whether environmentally friendly choices are desired. Pine oil, phenolic, chlorine, and quaternary are the four most commonly found disinfectants. Phenolic and pine oil are generally considered most effective in hot and warm water, while chlorine and quaternary types can be good choices in all temperatures.

Laundry detergent.
Laundry detergent.

When choosing a laundry sanitizer you should generally first consider your fabric. The color and type will determine which product you should use. Dark clothing is generally ruined by chlorine bleach, while the other three products will leave them intact. Also, if a garment is delicate, pine oil might be a better choice as it is a less harsh substance.

Bleach is effective at sanitizing laundry but can only be used on white clothes made of particular fabrics.
Bleach is effective at sanitizing laundry but can only be used on white clothes made of particular fabrics.

The water temperature at which a fabric must be washed is important when deciding on a laundry sanitizer as well. While it is true that dark fabrics are generally washed in cold water and lights in hot, this is not always the case. If in question, it is usually recommended that you use quaternary disinfectants, since they can be used in all water temperatures.

When looking for an environmentally friendly laundry sanitizer your best options are generally pine oil and phenolic products. If a quaternary product is desired, it is possible to purchase a less harsh version from some manufacturers. Though these products are made of naturally occurring compounds, care should always be taken to avoid any hazards that may result from handling them.

The time during the laundering process when a laundry sanitizer is added is often important as well. Pine oil must be added to the wash cycle, while a phenolic can be added to either the wash or rinse cycle depending on the water temperature. Chlorine and quaternary products should be used according to package directions.

While these are the four most common types of laundry sanitizer, other products might also be available for this use, including natural products. Care should be taken when using any product so that fabrics are not ruined and complete sanitization takes place during the laundering process. The same deciding factors can typically be used for other products as well.

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