With cold and flu season in full swing, we’re providing some laundry guidelines to help minimize the risk of the bug going household-wide.

But laundry detergent will take care of that, right? Not quite. Use more detergent? Definitely no. You could bleach everything to death, but color safe bleaches aren’t always strong enough to eliminate illness causing germs. So where does that leave you?

Turns out, your best ally in destroying germs is your dryer’s high heat cycle. According to Kelly Reynolds, a germ researcher at University of Arizona, 28 minutes of high heat drying is the magic number to ensure you’ve killed all pathogens on your laundry.

To help you combat illness in your household, here are some other quick tips to prevent the spread of germs through the wash:

  • High Heat is the Key — Have the ill person(s) sleep on bedding and wear clothes you don’t mind drying on high to be sure you can vaporize any illness causing germs that might be lurking.
  • Go Natural — In the event you can’t dry on high, or have delicate items, nature has the answer. Simply line-dry your clothes and take advantage of the ultraviolet rays of the sun.
  • Separate Loads — According to a TIME article it only takes a single pair of worn underwear from a sick individual to infect 90% of a load of laundry with germs and microorganisms. So, be sure to launder all infected linens, towels, and clothes in a separate load.
  • Clean Sweep — Consider cleaning all linens, towels, and clothes that could have been exposed, not just the ones immediately interacted with by the sick individual(s).
  • Be Speedy — The sooner the infected linens and clothes are laundered after being used, the better.
  • Bleach First — Always run a bleach cycle before using a washing machine during cold & flu season to eliminate any germs and potential illness left behind by the previous user’s laundry.

We hope these guidelines help you and your family stay healthy this season!