Are you planning to eat your underpants? Suck your jeans? Bandage a nasty cut with your freshly washed sweater? 

No? Then you do not need Dettol® Antibacterial Laundry Cleanser. 

This is the ultimate three-card trick of the laundry world, the cleverest, most pernicious con-job I’ve seen in a long time. Talk about inventing something completely unnecessary…

I am racking my brains to think why you might need hygienic clothing. 

Are you working in a research lab under the strictest of conditions? In which case, the lab will have its own routines, procedures and special clothing that keep the lab sterile. Same with a hospital. 

Are you looking after someone ill? You still don’t need antibacterial laundry cleanser because believe me, if the patient is THAT sick that they need totally sterile conditions, they won’t be at home under your care, they’ll be in an Intensive Care Unit.

Do you work with livestock? Have you just chucked up all over a favourite blouse? In which case, soaking the soiled articles in a bucket overnight, rinsing and then washing in a modern machine with modern detergent should do the trick. Repeat the process if there’s still a whiff or a stain. 

Look, clean clothing is nice. We all enjoy putting on a crisp, freshly laundered shirt. But it’s a shirt. It’s not dinner. It’s not a bandage. It doesn’t need to be hygienic. 

And here it is, in serried ranks, waiting to be bought…
© Chloë Goodridge, special researcher to Ms. Keane

The power of three

Dettol® are really onto a winner here, because this product is being sold as a third component of your wash. Yes, they advise you to use it IN ADDITION to detergent AND fabric conditioner. (I assure you, there’ll be a piece here on fabric conditioner later, fret not.) 

Here are the ingredients. I don’t pretend to understand them individually, all I know is that they are yet more ENTIRELY unnecessary chemicals being put into the poor overloaded sewage system.

Per 100 g Liquid, contains 1.44 g Quaternary Ammonium Compounds, Di-C8- 10- Alkyldimethyl, Chlorides and 0.96 g Quaternary Ammonium Compounds, Benzyl-C12-18-Alkyldimethyl, Chlorides, Contains 5% Non-Ionic Surfactants, Disinfectant, Perfume, Butyl Phenyl Methyl Propional, Hexyl Cinnamal and Citronellol.

That’s a lot of chemicals to get out of the system to make our tap water drinkable. Even if you insist on drinking bottled water (and I most sincerely hope you don’t), it’s nice to know you have potable water to make your tea and boil your vegetables in.

Still life with biscuit tin. How many laundries has the water in my tea been through, I wonder?

New products make waves

As far as I am aware, this is a new product on the market. I haven’t yet discovered any other anti-bloody-bacterial bloody laundry bloody cleansers for sale. (Let me know if I’m wrong – I can always edit!) But I have a ghastly feeling that now this has come on sale, the suits in the other detergent/cleanser companies will be cacking themselves in fright because Dettol® have stolen a march on them.

“Say, Chuck! Have you seen this new product, Dettol® Antibacterial Laundry Cleanser?”

“OMG, Sir, I just saw the cutesie-cutesie ad on TV last night for the first time and I shat my pants, it was such a great idea!”

“Yes siree, bob, and it’s for moments like that that we NEED to be selling an Antibacterial Laundry Cleanser of our own!”

“Don’t worry, Sir, I’ve authorised the Research and Development Team to get working on our own product!”

“Good man. We’ll strike the fear of laundry-related disease into the public.”

OMG, my cupboard is full of unhygienic clothing!

Fear sells

This product is a perfect example of Steve Jobs’ theory that we, the public, don’t know what we want until we see it in all its glory.

There are various marketing strategies that companies use, but the cleverest inspire either Lust or Fear. The iPhone was such a glorious piece of technology it made us weak with lust. On the other hand, this new laundry product reminds us that we are scared rigid about bacteria and socially terrified of being smelly. 

Here’s some of the blurb from the Sainsbury’s website. 

Dettol Laundry Cleanser is an additive that kills 99.9% of bacteria giving odour-free freshness : 1. Kills 99.9% of bacteria, even below 20ºC so that you can be confident that your laundry is hygienically clean every time, whatever temperature you wash at (proven to work in rinse cycle temperatures as low as 15ºC) 2. Gives odour-free freshness for up to 12 hours. It doesn’t just cover up malodour but eliminates odour causing bacteria at source….”

“Ideal for towels, children’s clothes, underwear, socks, bedding …and more…”

To kill viruses**
Soaking: add 1 cap to 2.5L of water and leave to soak for 15 mins
**Laboratory tested on influenza H1 N1; RSV; Coronavirus; Herpes Simplex Type

Note the various fear-triggering words in there…

  • bacteria
  • odour
  • malodour
  • children
  • viruses
  • influenza
  • herpes

…all designed to make you worried about something you NEVER thought of before – the fact that your laundry might emerge from the wash like creatures from the deep… contaminated and riddled with viruses!

Clean Seasalt socks. Whoever thought they might give me flu AND herpes!!!

Listen. You get your clothes out of the washing machine and dry them – tumble drier, washing line, heated towel rail – it doesn’t matter which. During the drying process they will come into contact with the air which is full of all sorts of microscopic bugs that we can do NOTHING about and which mainly do us NO harm. 

Maybe a fly lands on your t-shirt while it’s drying. Are you going to wash it again? Don’t be daft. 

You pop your knickers on and, whoopsie doo! A wee fart escapes. Are you going to wash them again? I no nink no. 

You do your trousers up and the dog jumps up to say hello. Are you going to put them back in the machine immediately? Don’t be ridiculous.

And if you’re not completely convinced, here’s this from the product description. 

Causes serious eye damage.

Ah. That’s not so good. Here’s another.

Harmful to aquatic life with long lasting effects.

We are washing this stuff into the sewage system???

Oh, and there’s yet another empty plastic bottle at the end of it which is going to go… er… where?  Landfill, of course!!!!

Landfill. Not one of humankind’s greatest achievements.
Photo by Ayotunde Oguntoyinbo on Unsplash

Time was when Dettol® was a comforting product. Mum always had a bottle under the sink so that if a kid got sick on the bathroom floor, or the cat pooped in the kitchen, she’d clear it up, mop the floor and then go over it with a bit of Dettol®. She dabbed cuts and grazes with it too. The smell was clean and hospitally and safe. That’s not so surprising, as it started its life in hospitals where it was used in surgical procedures to clean cuts, wounds etc.

Now, it’s owned by Reckitt Benckiser, a British multinational consumer goods company, and it’s just another brand trying to make a buck in an increasingly crowded and competitive marketplace. Long term responsibility towards the planet doesn’t figure in the world of retail sales, I guess. Shame on them.



I hadn’t bargained with a worldwide pandemic when I wrote this last year. A couple of folk have contacted me to say that in the light of Covid-19, Antibacterial laundry IS necessary after all – but I’m relieved to say this is not the case. I’ve checked with various NHS websites and this is from the government website.

Wash items in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Use the warmest water setting and dry items completely. Dirty laundry that has been in contact with an unwell person can be washed with other people’s items.

Do not shake dirty laundry, this minimises the possibility of dispersing virus through the air.

Clean and disinfect anything used for transporting laundry with your usual products, in line with the cleaning guidance above.


This came from Healthline which is a pretty reputable site. “The stability of SARS-CoV-2 on cloth was also tested in the Lancet articleTrusted Source mentioned earlier. It was found that viable virus couldn’t be recovered from cloth after 2 days. Generally speaking, it’s probably not necessary to wash your clothes after every time you go out. However, if you’ve been unable to maintain proper physical distance from others, or if someone has coughed or sneezed near you, it’s a good idea to wash your clothes.

A study in Emerging Infectious Diseases assessed which surfaces in a hospital were positive for SARS-CoV-2. A high number of positives were found from floor samples. Half of the samples from the shoes of ICU workers also tested positive.

It’s unknown how long SARS-CoV-2 can survive on floors and shoes. If you’re concerned about this, consider removing your shoes at your front door as soon as you get home. You can also wipe the soles of your shoes with a disinfecting wipe after going out.”

IN CONCLUSION – unless you need to use clothing or linen again that day, there is no need for this pernicious stuff.

Finally, a word from Miss P.

Piper knows instinctively that a comforting cuddle is far more important than hygienic laundry.


  1. Can I just say, not in a creepy way… I love you! It’s about time someone sat up straight and gave all this extraneous nonsense a stiff kicking. Well done! And no, I am not going to sterilise my knickers.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh Dillie, you are saying what I have been merely thinking for years! Could I please add antiseptic soap and surface cleaner to this germ-fear fest? And disposable wipes, which come in more varieties than I thought possible: antibacterial, multi-purpose, floor, bathroom, toilet, kitchen, window…

    I have a selection of cotton dishcloths which are used to wipe down whatever needs wiping down in the kitchen and then flung in the washing machine.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Anti bacterial anything has caused most of the allergies and alleged allergies in the world today. I have been known to stand in front of the detergents in Costco and mutter loudly enough for people to hear about the fear factor in advertising that makes people buy the products. One young woman actually told her partner to put back the fabric conditioner after my muttered rant. Made me feel good I can tell you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Am I the only one that has ever acidentally forgot a load of towels in the washer and went to work 15 hrs to realize the next morning they are still in the washer and they smell like they are all trash?
      Can’t use bleach because the wife is allergic so usually have to use antibacterial dawn soap but it irratates the babies skin we found out so actually Im pretty happy there is a detergent I can use when I make this mistake again.
      Now if we’re tired of the overuse of antibacterial products and that is the point then Im on board 🙂 But to say no one EVER needs to sanitize their laundry is a little silly.
      I enjoy these posts a lot, 9 out of 10 times I get a good chuckle.


      • HI Dustin, thanks for posting. We’ve all done it, and yes, the smell is pretty rank. I’m very lucky as I have somewhere to hang my clothes outside so I can dry them and wash them again. The wind and sun do wonders. When it’s raining I do a rinse cycle first and then re-wash them… seems to work ok… but my MAJOR breakthrough in the kitchen for everything has been to buy myself a little kitchen timer which I set to the length of the wash and since then, I haven’t forgotten a wash. But that’s plastic and uses a battery… proving that we are compromised EVERY WHICH WAY! Glad you get a laugh out of the articles, I really do try not to be too preachy.


  4. More shit you don’t need .WASHING POWDER
    Appros 2 tbs. washing soda (£1 per bad at Tesco ) + approx 2 tbs liquid soap + essential oil if you fancy
    Works a treat!


    • Whooee! I shall be trying that for definite. Thanks for the tip. Incidentally, would grated soap do as well as liquid soap? As in soap flakes?


  5. Dillie, well spotted(wipe those spots up now ) another bit of product invention designed to fill a need(of the company)…my daughter is on a place ment with a rustic soap maker. Shes told me the difference between shower gel and hand wash and facial scrub….they are all put in different packages. Thats it…just the packaging.
    And thank you for all the wacky lyrics and soaring vocals…..Lorraine

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I agree completely with your piece. I can remember a time when we simply washed our clothes; now we are supposed to use products like Vanish in addition to what is already a good detergent, and then top it off with fabric conditioner. It is all designed to fulfill a need that does not exist.

    If you really want clean, fresh clothes then wash them and hang them on the line in full sunlight. Strong sunshine is one of the best anti-bacterial things around.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. My favourite Dettol SYDN product was the home automatic liquid soap dispenser, It was advertised under the slogan “Because who wants to touch a germy soap dispenser?”

    What is the first thing you do after touching a soap dispenser (germy or otherwise)?

    Thanks to this marketing-led paranoia that we will all die in five minutes time unless we sterilise everything with wet-wipes, we are sinking in a carpet of the bloody things. In my rowing days, I used to walk down the banks of the Thames through good old-fashioned mud, gravel, a little bit of untreated sewage and the occasional dead cat. The banks are now an inch deep in undegraded wet wipes that inconsiderate Londoners have flushed down the bog. All because of Kim and Aggie, Joe Public’s inability to use a proper cloth and an advertising campaign playing on our fears.

    Dettol recently announced that their wet wipes are now biodegradable. About time too.

    By the way Dettol (the original) is toxic to dogs. If you value your pooch, don’t use it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Agree heartily with all of this and also wanted to add that not only is this stuff unnecessary but there is growing evidence is that microbes are essential to healthy development and function. Not only does ‘sterility’ not equal ‘healthy’, it is probably at the root of a number of diseases. We should always remember that the microbes came first, millennia before us, and human beings evolved to live with them.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. We’re much too obsessed with ‘killing all germs dead’. Unless we have compromised immunity our bodies can cope with (a reasonable amount) of everyday dirt, indeed it does children good as expose is necessary for a developing immune system.


  10. As an extra: don’t use dettol or any antibacterial soap for that matter for washing your hands/skin (except perhaps to clean a dirty cut or graze). It’ll kill all germs on your hands/skin (well… 99%, some harmful ones will survive anyway), with the result that the bad germs grow back quicker than the good germs – the ones that you need on your skin (to keep the harmful bastards out).

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Back in the day (early ’80s) My sprog was kitted out in cotton nappies despite the trend towards disposables. I’m sure I was advised not to soak them in Dettol as washing them afterwards in the machine would eventually cause damage to the workings inside. Maybe this was a fib…… but you have to admit it’s pretty pungent stuff!


  12. Hi Dilly, more common sense from you, keep it up please. There are very few products that do not use poor animals to test. Look for the leaping bunny on the label. Eg Ecover. I say Ditch all the harmful stuff as it’s all just the big multinational companies making money. Thank you xx


  13. Respect the attempt made by your post BUT you may be confusing antibacterial and antiseptic.
    Antiseptic laundry detergent is hard to find and completely worth using. Personal hygiene, which includes all that we put on our bodies,, including clothing, is critically important for good health.
    Markets are flooded with antibacterial products. Why? Because they are relatively inexpensive to produce and they sell!
    We should be demanding antiseptics for personal hygiene and laundry products.


    • If you look at the products available on the market, they are all called “antibacterial” and not “antiseptic”. No muddle. Meanwhile, I am puzzled by what might be septic about your laundry and your personal hygiene. Here is the definition of septic.

      “Infected with microorganisms, especially harmful bacteria. Synonyms: infected, festering, suppurating, pus-filled, putrid, putrefying, putrefactive, purulent, poisoned, diseased.”

      Do you have diseased, infected sheets? A putrid, festering body? I doubt it. You sound as though you are scrupulously careful about your hygiene routine. Hurrah for that.

      Excellent personal hygiene is perfectly possible without either antibacterial (i.e., active against bacteria, hygienic, sterile) or antiseptic products. But if you want the reassurance of putting disinfectant into your laundry – which would be the nearest easily available product for ensuring an antiseptic wash – I can’t stop you. No need for you to demand antiseptics – disinfectant will do the job you require. Unnecessary, of course, and tough on the environment, but entirely your choice. These blog pieces are merely to raise awareness. If people take my recommendations, I shall be delighted, but it’s a free world.


  14. It has a place. My son washed his clothes and I couldn’t get the sweat stink out of my washing machine. It stank up my clothes. Dettol sanitizer killed the stinky bacteria where vinegar and bicarbonate failed to help. It was my last resort before buying new clothes and hand washing.


    • Thanks for that measured comment. It looks like you went to trouble to avoid using it which is great. But of course, I now want to know what your son was doing to work up such a stink!


  15. I completely agree that the average consumer does not need anti bac detergent, but I suffer from hyperhidrosis of the underarms (excessive sweating) and a lot of my clothing becomes permanently stained and smelly due it. Before I used anti bac detergent I found that I had to wash most of my shirts twice before they stopped smelling – some even more so. The only product I’ve found that completely cleans my clothes first time is anti bac detergent, I think bc it kills the bacteria that gather in the underarms thanks to my condition. So no, the average person doesn’t need this, but I do.


    • How interesting. Yes, it does sound like difficult situation for you. I’m sure you tried soaking them? That’s not the answer with all fabrics, of course, because of shrinkage. Anyhow, thanks for posting, your point seems extremely reasonable to me.


  16. Do you remember when Sainsbury’s introduced cooking implements impregnated with an antibiotic, triclosan? That made me so angry as it traded on people’s fears about germs. It was completely unnecessary and reduced our immune systems rather than ‘protecting’ us.


  17. Probably you have never had athlete’s foot 🙂
    Sorry but you need such product. Maybe not for every wash but when you really need to kill bacteria.

    Drying your clothes under direct sunlight will help killing the bacteria. But you don’t have direct sunlight in every season/location. Washing your clothes in high temperature water will help killing bacteria but most of the washing machines don’t have hot water option in short cycles. You need to do 2 hour cycle.

    Hygiene is one of the most important reasons why Life expectancy is much higher today. Look at the corona virus case now. Such product will definitely help if you are taking care of a patient in the same living space (people do that).

    Your article seems pretty ignorant and doesn’t include any scientific facts.


    • I have had athlete’s foot and recovered without the use of antibacterial laundry cleanser. I separated off my socks and tights and didn’t put them in the washing machine, I put them in a bucket with plenty of hot water and washing powder, and let them soak for a couple of days. Voila – socks that didn’t re-infect me. Your reply seems pretty rude and I suspect you haven’t clicked on the links. I’m extremely careful to research my pieces.


    • Athlete’s Foot is caused by a fungus – not by bacteria, so an anti-bac product won’t do anything to mitigate it. Anyway, our bodies are full of bacteria – most of them good ones, which we don’t need to kill. While I agree that life expectancy is much higher due to hygiene – compared to Victorian times, this is due to better housing, proper sewage management and the availability of piped water to every home, all of which has improved hygiene. Life expectancy since the 1980s, when these anti-bacterial products started to multiply, has NOT improved – indeed, in the US, where anti-bac products are even more ubiquitous, life expectancy has gone down since the 1980s

      Yes – it IS important to include scientific and statistical facts – as above.


    • I have had athlete’s foot and cleared it up with a topical anti-fungal cream. That’s what you need, not anti-bacterial laundry cleanser. It is a little rich to say that my article is “pretty ignorant” when you yourself don’t seem to know the difference between a bacteria and a fungus.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. What would you recommend for washing kids underwear that has been soiled? Previously I would wash the underwear (after it had been soaked first in a bucket of water and an eco laundry soak) with a Canesten or Dettol antibacterial laundry rinse. Since COVID-19 you can’t buy laundry rinse as it has flown off the supermarket shelves. I moved to using an essential oil blend of eucalyptus, cinnamon, orange etc to help sterilise the washing and whilst I am enjoying the lovely smell it gives to the laundry, how do I know that it is actually sanitising it? Mums of babies and young children need to sanitise nappies and soiled underwear as the sun is not always out to help with this when hanging washing on the line.


    • What an interesting question! I’m unable to give you a definitive answer to this and it wouldn’t come well from me if I were to be too didactic – I never had children myself! I have done some nappy washing for friends and family, but not a lot, and it was long ago. My feeling – which you are very much entitled to ignore completely – is that before Canesten and Dettol, etc., the human race survived. However, we do know a great deal more about hygiene now and, indeed, the human race has done very well through the twin offices of modern medicine and modern hygiene, so I realise that we still have to be cautious. I think modern washing machines are pretty good especially if you’ve soaked the nappies first, and a hot wash should do the trick. But if you want another level of reassurance I would go back to the old fashioned boil wash, and dedicate your biggest cooking pot to the service of boiling the nappies whenever the sun goes in. Boil them after soaking and washing, I think… You’ll probably only be able to fit a few nappies in at a time so you will need tongs to drop the boiled nappies into your freshly cleaned sink before adding the next batch, and don’t forget to use an oven glove to protect your hand. Then rinse them again in the washing machine. Laborious, but that should definitely sanitise them. Well done on using real nappies – and I do like the sound of your essential oil blend…


      • I love your article. I have a bottle of this only for when we’ve had tummy bugs in the house (we are a family of 7 with one immunocompromised person), and occasionally to get rid of very sweaty smells, but other than that not at all. I also used cloth nappies for all four of my children, but never used any sanitising products in the washing machine, just pre-rinse, hot wash (60 degrees) and extra rinse to get rid of the detergent. These products have their place, but as you say, it’s not for everyday use.


      • Thanks Michelle, that all makes perfect sense. When you have an immunocompromised person in the house, any extra steps to keep things super-hygenic are absolutely allowable! Stay well and safe, all of you.


  19. I never considered the idea of boiling nappies after soaking and washing them! Thanks for the idea. Lots of interesting thoughts shared here. I’ll be keeping my eye on the discussion. Take care.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. This gave me food for thought. I myself have bought this in the past, with the idea that I may be killing off such unwanted germs when washing kids clothes and bedding. The truth is I think we can all work ourselves up in a frenzy about germs. I would only use it if I could not wash certain clothing on a very hot wash and if it was something really dirty. I think you are right just wading clothes and sun drying is great. Maybe it is best for those who do not have a chance to dry clothes in the sun


    • Thanks Jay. Another underused technique for cleaning is to soak the clothes overnight in a bucket. The dirt floats off in no time, and smells are easier to expunge.


  21. Actually this is something that you do need. Because clothes doesn’t matter what type of clothes they are can carry Covid-19 and this brand of laundry antibacterial clothes cleaner does the trick among other laundry antibacterial clothes cleanser will also do the trick.


    • Thanks for posting, Justin. I can at least relieve you of any worries. Covid-19 is a virus, not a bacteria, and therefore antibacterial clothes cleaner is completely useless. A very hot wash is much better. However, extra care with clothes hygiene is of course advisable. I have, for all our peace of mind, checked with the NHS and this should cover your needs.
       “If soiled with body fluids, a pre-wash or sluice wash prior to the main wash is strongly advised. Clothing should be washed at the hottest possible temperature the fabric will withstand. The clothing should not be washed with other household members clothing.
       If clothing is grossly contaminated/soiled it should be discussed with relatives/carers that the safest means of decontaminating the clothing would be to send it to the hospital laundry. It must be emphasised that there is a risk that the items may be damaged during the washing process due to the high temperatures required to render the item of clothing safe. The laundry will not be held liable for any damage to such items. If the clothing is not labelled with the patients name the laundry staff will need informing prior to the clothing being sent.
       For used clothing – no soiling – place the items into the washing machine and wash at the hottest temperature the fabric will withstand. Relatives should wash hands thoroughly after handling items.


      • Antibacterial soaps doesn’t kill viruses everyone knows that but it does block viruses from spreading or contaminating clothes it also slows the spread of the virus


      • I would be very interested to see where you got this information from, that it blocks viruses from spreading or contaminating clothes and slows the spread of the virus. Do please send links to any scientific papers or authoritative health websites (like the NHS and not, for instance a website like GOOP). I do a great deal of research before publishing and have found nothing to back this up, but it doesn’t mean there is no sound scientific basis for your statement, I might just have missed it. So please feel free to send any research you’ve come across, I would be hugely grateful.


  22. This is all very well day to day…
    I am a nurse on a chemotherapy unit, administering cytotoxic drugs to cancer patients.
    They are ill anyway and the poisons we give them knock out their immune systems so they are at high risk of sepsis.
    Believe it or not, but nurses have to launder their own uniforms, so I use the anti-bacterial liquid to protect my patients.


    • Thanks Jill, that’s a really worthwhile comment to make. What is shocking to read is that you have to launder your own uniform. I would be very interested to know the advice given by your NHS trust on how you should do that. Is anti-bacterial cleanser recommended? I haven’t found any such recommendations in my research but obviously I haven’t researched every hospital trust so my research is only good as far as it goes. Recommendations may well differ from trust to trust.

      Another thing that strikes me is that bacteria are everywhere and the very fact that you have to launder the uniform at home and then bring it in to work having handled it, put it into a bag, transported it to work and then put it on at work means it necessarily acquires ‘germs’ which will land on the fabric… Absolute hygiene is incredibly difficult to attain. Ah well, your patients are very lucky that you take such care.


  23. OH MY GOODNESS!! All afternoon I have been talking about buying this to wash preowned baby Clothes ( should I ? ) Then I came across your blog whilst searching for where to buy it from…. Brilliant!! You say it all ! I had to get both of my daughters to stop and listen to me reading everything out ! When I’d finished, my daughter asked ‘ well. Are you still going to buy it’? But it was just because it was for ‘2nd hand baby clothes’ — Just for the 1st wash ……. ??


    • Ooh, that’s very encouraging that you found it by accident, that must mean it’s doing ok in the rankings. I’ve not written any blogs for a while because I have been a bit discouraged, tbh. Coronavirus has knocked some of the wind out of me. But it just shows that one message can change the world… well, not the world, but it certainly gives me heart. Thanks so much for getting in contact, I hope you follow the blog now and stay off the Antibac Laundry stuff, a good soak will work wonders! Best wishes to you, Michelle.


  24. The dettol product you specifically write about whilst is advertised as antibacterial, does also kill viruses. It says so on the back of the bottle specifically with instructions “to kill viruses” and includes coronavirus amongst other viruses as examples. Whilst I agree the product generates more potential plastic waste the suggestion of washing at a high temperature also has environmental impacts such as increased use of energy and reduced washing machine life (for example through increased limescale) . What happens at the end of a washing machine’s life should also be considered. This product is therefore not a complete waste of time or some marketing stunt.


    • Hi Ken, thanks for posting. The article was written nearly a year before Coronavirus hit us, so perhaps it needs updating. For instance, Dettol’s added information on killing viruses is very recent. I shall look into it further. However, I would add the caveat that I still think it’s in Dettol’s interest to add that since we’re all much more scared of viruses. After all, if it only takes 20 seconds with a bar of soap and warm water to wash your hands free of coronavirus, why would your clothes need antibacterial laundry cleanser or a wash at 60°?


    • Hi Ken
      You are correct that water over 61C increases Limescale deposits. However, that problem is solved by using a water softener. Using an antibacterial agent to prolong the life of a washing machine seems a very roundabout justification for it!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I put white vinegar in the softener drawer to reduce limescale deposits, fix colors and soften the laundry.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hi again Ken, thanks for writing back – this is entirely the kind of discourse I hoped this blog would encourage. I did indeed go to that government webpage (thanks for posting the link) and read it carefully. The section on laundry is very short, and I quote it here. “Laundry
      Items should be washed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. There is no additional washing requirement above what would normally be carried out.”
      So I feel more confident than ever that antibacterial laundry cleanser is unnecessary. You might be interested to read a comment by “eskief” below which makes a couple of excellent points.


    • Yes indeed, Ken, but that’s only in the case where there has been infection from coronavirus. If we spend our lives trying to kill all germs that might be on our clothes, the water table will be so full of chemicals that pollution levels will rise yet further. If there has been infection, it would be safe to leave any clothes, bedding etc., for two days before washing at normal temperatures without adding extra product. A study printed in the Lancet clearly states that fabric is safe after two days, that the virus cannot be retrieved from cloth after that time. So what I would do is gather up the items that need washing, put them in a basket, tuck the basket in a corner somewhere, sanitise my hands carefully and wait two days.

      Obviously, if you absolutely have to wash infected clothing or bedding immediately, you will take whatever measures you feel are necessary. Meanwhile, please believe me when I say that I’m very alive to the fear of Covid… I’ve been masking up and living quietly from the beginning. But I also think we have to take care about what we do because there’s something much worse than Covid round the corner – extreme climate change. And that will make Covid look like a picnic.


  25. Hi Dillie,

    I use to add the Dettol laundry cleanser to my washing machine routine when I wash below 60 degrees (so everything except towels and sheets). I thought it was more hygienic for the underwears, especially after experiencing vaginal candidosis. Do you think it is a waste even in that case?

    Ps: indications on the back bottle about how to use Dettol to kill viruses (Coronavirus types included) are not recent, they have been there for years.


    • Oh, thanks for that information, I thought the mention of coronavirus was new… But I do think that if coronavirus can be vanquished by 20 seconds hand washing with a bar of soap, then Dettol are being disingenuous. I’ve never seen any mention in any coronavirus safety information that the water should be hot or even lukewarm. Have a look at this…
      Meanwhile I do think it’s unnecessary to use Antibacterial cleanser for underwear, even with vaginal candidiasis. There are quite a lot of websites out there with a deliberately medical feel and look to them of which I am very wary. The NHS website would be one to which I would confidently turn for sensible advice, however, and if you have a look at this page on yeast infections and how to manage them, you won’t find any mention of antibacterial laundry cleanser. Soaking for 24 hours in a bucket should help if you are anxious. Or even pouring a kettle of boiling water over them, if they’re cotton. Stay well, anyhow!


    • Vaginal candidosis is caused by a fungus, not by bacteria. Therefore a bactericidal laundry cleanser will do nothing to prevent it. Also, I note many people use the Cleanser to ‘rescue’ washing that has been left too long without drying, to get rid of the nasty musty smell. That smell is caused by moulds (molds in American), not bacteria. Re-washing the laundry with a regular detergent will get rid of the smell, although the Cleanser will add a nice ‘clean’ perfume to it – a scent which no doubt has been carefully developed by Dettol’s product development scientists to impart the sense of ‘cleanliness’ and increase the attractiveness of the product.


  26. Hi again Dillie,

    germs and bacteria are removed when washing at 60 degrees, would you say that soap is enough and therefore washing above 30 degrees (unless for tough stains on towels and bed sheets) is unnecessary?

    Reading the labels of products like Dettol and Calgon I understand that they are not used to remove bacteria from the clothes, but to protect the washing machine from growing bacteria.



    • As I don’t have any of those products in the house any more, I really can’t answer you – I shall have to go to the supermarket and take pictures of the labels on the back! But I’d have thought that a washing machine used regularly wouldn’t have much chance to grow bacteria!

      Someone above posted a link to the government webpage prepared by Public Health England, specifically to deal with coronavirus and I read it carefully. The section on laundry is very short, and I quote it again.
      “Laundry: Items should be washed in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. There is no additional washing requirement above what would normally be carried out.”

      So I cannot find any official body that says you need to wash at 60° or even that Antibacterial Laundry cleanser is needed. It is in Dettol’s interest to make you think you need it! Thanks once again for posting, it’s all very interesting because it makes me delve deeper.


      • Hi Dillie

        The link that I posted actually has 2 sections on laundry, the one you quoted is the “general” one whilst further down the page there’s specific advice on laundry for clothing that has been in contact with the coronavirus. It states: “Wash items in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Use the warmest water setting and dry items completely. Dirty laundry that has been in contact with an unwell person can be washed with other people’s items. To minimise the possibility of dispersing virus through the air, do not shake dirty laundry prior to washing.
        Clean and disinfect anything used for transporting laundry with your usual products, in line with the cleaning guidance above”

        So in this case the warmest setting on most machines would be 90 degrees as some sources have suggested that even at 60 degrees it may not kill all microbes.


      • Hi Dillie and Ken,

        thank you for the kind reply!

        I was not referring to Coronavirus this time but to germs and bacteria in general (both when doing laundry and when dishwashing).

        I was wondering, if I’m washing a cotton bathroom towel (max wash temp 60 degrees on the label) with no stubborn stains, should I choose a lower temperature for my washing cycle, or would it still be recommended to wash at 60 degrees to be sure I’m killing bad bacteria? With no laundry cleanser involved in the washing cycle, just the water and detergent.

        About the laundry cleanser, this is the information you can find on Calgon website and on the bottle about protecting the washing machine, not the laundry itself: “Calgon Anti-Bacterial gel is the first Calgon limescale prevention gel that combines outstanding protecting from limescale, residue and odours with Anti-Bacterial ingredients to eliminate 99.9%* of bacteria in your machine.” however Dettol refers to the laundry, not the machine, so you are right about it.


  27. Hi again Lacu. The problem with killing all the bacteria on your laundry – whether it’s towels, underpants or anything else – is that the minute you take them out of the machine, they start to acquire other bacteria, the kind of bacteria that are in the air anyhow. There are tiny microorganisms everywhere in the air – bacteria, viruses, fungi, yeasts, prions – and not all of them are pathogens. That’s why when you go to the GP to give your blood sample, it’s encased in plastic until the very last minute to keep it as hyper-clean as possible. Let’s say you hang them on a radiator near your toilet, for instance… do you close the lid when you flush? Because if you don’t, your towels will be covered in tiny particles of whatever it was that went int the bowl – urine, faeces, even vomit. And yet people who don’t flush will happily use their towels for a week without thinking, and yet pour a ton of chemicals into the washing machine. Truly, this obsession with adding super-chemicals to our laundry is an unnecessary expense that benefits only the company and is driven by the need for profit.


  28. Hi Dillie,

    actually I do close the lid when flushing the toilet because the towels are not too far 🙂 and my toothbrushes are covered by caps.

    I don’t want to add super-chemicals to my laundry anymore, but you didn’t answer my other question: do you think that washing at low temperatures is enough for an hygienic cleaning because even if washing at 60 degrees (the temperature that kills bacteria and germs) we will get our towels exposed to bacteria and germs as soon as they are again out of the machine?
    Doesn’t it sound like saying “you will get the cloth stained again so why worry about it?” 🙂

    Wish you and Piper a lovely day!


    • Lacu, I’m not a scientist and my scientific credentials are nil. However, I research carefully. Here is my considered answer. If you and your household are Covid free, you don’t need to worry about a ‘hygienic” wash. What you want is clean towels. If you’ve only used your towels once or twice, 30° is absolutely fine. If your towels have had a lot of use, wash at a higher temperature.

      If you have Covid, leave the towels untouched for two days. This is enough to let the virus die on the towel. Then wash as normal. This will be hygienic.

      If you are short of towels and need to touch them before the two day period, put on rubber gloves, drop the towels in a bucket and pour boiling water over them. Then wash at whatever temperature feels safest.

      I hope this helps.


  29. Hi. Interesting article. The only thing I find is that it helps to get rid of the stinky BO smell. I must have rampant bacteria in my armpits and my clothes just retain the smell after washing. (I wear a polyester shirt for my uniform, like the worst material for me!) So for some reason this product helps. But I apply it either directly to the armpits or soak the shirt in it before washing.


    • I have to admit you’re in a bit of a bind if you have to wear polyester for work. Horrible fabric! Have you tried soaking it for a couple of days in cold water with a splash of vinegar and a teaspoonful of bicarb before putting it in the wash? It shouldn’t shrink being polyester… And the wash cycle should rid the fabric of the smell of vinegar …


      • Thanks for the tip. I will try this on a shirt that I will be replacing next (I dont trust polyester, that the wash cycle will remove the vinegar smell…nothing like smelling of fish and chips at work 😂)
        I am happy to use this #shitIdontneed to kill the bacteria and save my colleagues from my BO for now 👌🏻👌🏻


  30. Well that’s very considerate of you, I hope your colleagues are as nice, but perhaps we should call it PO instead of BO (Polyester Odour)! You could always just try soaking it in cold water with bicarb only. I think it’s worth trying a few experiments anyhow.


  31. Honestly, you’re totally right that it certainly isn’t necessary for 99.9% of washes and you don’t need it.

    That said,
    in the few cases where you might otherwise add bleach to a wash, or where you might want to soak a pair of trainers, or a second hand leather coat, in those cases I’d be much happier to use a product like this, rather than high temps, or bleach.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. What if you or a member of your household has HPV of whatever kind? If you warts that touch clothing, it could spread to loved ones clothing


  33. Hi Dillie,
    Thanks for this. I have been shouting at my tv for ages now every time an advert comes on to “Dettol it”. I worry about the effects of antibacterials being ingested by children and destroying gut health. We do not need to try and kill all bacteria. We have trillions of bacteria in and on us that we need for good health. Also I do wonder how strong this stuff is if a capfull can sanitize a whole washing machine’s worth of water!
    Keep blogging


  34. Can dettol laundry sanitiser cause water blisters as an allergic reaction when sheets and nightie washed in it by my well meaning carer?

    Trying to find cause of them apart from recent op with anaesthetic chemicals.


    • My honest answer is that I don’t know. But I think it’s certainly worth asking the carer not to use it, no matter how well meaning! You won’t know till you try. I’ve got enormously sensitive skin that reacts horribly to stuff, so for that very reason I wouldn’t use it even if I thought it might be extra super clean.


  35. I’m confused now, you stated that this is an antibacterial product which can’t kill viruses but the manufacturer states that it can.

    To kill viruses**
    Soaking: add 1 cap to 2.5L of water and leave to soak for 15 mins
    **Laboratory tested on influenza H1 N1; RSV; Coronavirus; Herpes Simplex Type


    • Hi, yes, you’re correct in saying that it kills the Coronavirus. I wrote that piece before Covid locked us all up. I suppose I should edit the piece to say that. Thanks for the nudge. But I still think it’s a wildly unnecessary product in most cases – unless you are very short of clothing and bedding, leaving your clothing in the dirty clothes basket for a couple of days will be fine. This came from Healthline which is a pretty reputable site. “The stability of SARS-CoV-2 on cloth was also tested in the Lancet articleTrusted Source mentioned earlier. It was found that viable virus couldn’t be recovered from cloth after 2 days.

      Generally speaking, it’s probably not necessary to wash your clothes after every time you go out. However, if you’ve been unable to maintain proper physical distance from others, or if someone has coughed or sneezed near you, it’s a good idea to wash your clothes.

      A study in Emerging Infectious Diseases assessed which surfaces in a hospital were positive for SARS-CoV-2. A high number of positives were found from floor samples. Half of the samples from the shoes of ICU workers also tested positive.

      It’s unknown how long SARS-CoV-2 can survive on floors and shoes. If you’re concerned about this, consider removing your shoes at your front door as soon as you get home. You can also wipe the soles of your shoes with a disinfecting wipe after going out.”

      Incidentally, I do put my trainers into the washing machine – but I don’t use Antibacterial Laundry Cleanser!


  36. I only moved to the UK when you wrote this post but had known a similar product in the same kind of bottle in Germany for quite a while. However, this was marketed as a specialised occasional product for when sports clothes start to smell badly even after washes, baby clothes that smell, and general odour on items that is caused by bacteria or fungi, such as in clothes that had been stored in the basement (I used it for those after vinegar didn’t work). So not as something to use in every wash, and not using fear as a selling point. What a terrible marketing trick to make something that might be useful once a year or less when stuff really reeks into a necessity. But it happens all. the. time. And since people don’t question stuff, I am happy to have found a popular blog dedicated to calling bs 😀

    PS: admittedly, I bought a different brand version of this to save two t-shirts for which nothing else seems to work. And: it didn’t even work for that problem. Making this stuff even more unnecessary!


    • Thanks Alexandra. The trouble with sports clothes is, of course, that they are made with synthetic materials which hold the smells much worse than natural fabrics!


  37. Kangarama is a textile science and technology company developing anti-bacterial and anti-viral wear in the medical sector. Our technology-based fabrics are researched, refined, modified and tested to keep your scrubs free from microorganisms.


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