While washing clothes in water and detergent can help remove dirt and soils, what happens to the bacteria and germs? Are any laundry appliances truly effective at sanitizing laundry or addressing issues related to allergens such as dust mites and pet dander?
Fortunately, many laundry products on the market today are designed to help make doing the laundry easier. The ability to sanitize laundry and reduce allergens in baby clothing, bedding, towels and other laundry items is now available in washers and dryers certified to one of the following protocols:
NSF Protocol P172 was developed by a panel of experts, including representatives from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Using established scientific methods, clothes washers are evaluated to determine if they can effectively sanitize clothes.
To earn certification, a clothes washer tested under this protocol must be able to reduce 99.9 percent of microorganisms when clothing is washed on the unit’s sanitization cycle. In addition, there must be no significant carryover of bacteria into future loads.
Similar to NSF Protocol P172, NSF Protocol P154 was developed to confirm the ability of residential clothes dryers to also effectively sanitize household laundry after washing. Certified dryers must be able to reduce 99.9 percent of microorganisms and prevent significant carryover of contamination to subsequent dryer loads.
An estimated 300 million people worldwide suffer from asthma, according to the American Lung Study. The NSF allergen reduction Protocol P351 was developed to address these concerns by setting the standard for allergen reduction in residential clothes washers.
Washers certified to this protocol must remove at least 95 percent of house dust mite allergens and feline dander. The wash water must reach 55º C (131º F, the temperature required to kill dust mites) for at least three minutes and the washer must be easily cleanable, corrosion resistant and designed to avoid accumulation of dirt and debris.
Some washers are also certified to reduce other allergens, including canine dander and birch pollen (a common cause of hay fever) by at least 95 percent.