Thursday, November 29, 2012

Disinfect and Separate That Laundry

turkey sandwich from Thanksgiving leftovers (side view)

                         photo courtesy of

The Thanksgiving leftovers were polished off or frozen.  The decorative corn stalks tossed into the compost bin.  And visiting family members returned home from their travels.  Reflections of the new holiday memories were quickly, respectfully and momentarily set aside when the kids eagerly reminded us that Christmas was right around the corner.

blue dove htt/
For the sake of my youngster's future thoughts of their own childhoods we sprang to action.  With the local radio station playing holiday favorites we journeyed into our 200 year old basement. We emerged with our traditional, and horribly spider infested decorations.  A few swats and couple flicks later we were in business and managed to trim the tree.
Our energy spent, our house up to date, we all fell asleep with a smile.  In our home, on that night there was no question those kids were dreaming of the spectacular surprises Santa might have in store for them.
Still waiting

The next morning, to my complete horror and surprise, I looked in the bathroom mirror only to be greeted with an infected spider bite.  I looked and looked and looked again.  Almost embarrassed for my own family to see it.  
I couldn't understand how it happened.  I never felt a bite.  I washed my face before bed.  The sheets were clean.  What in the world and why me and why on my face?
how it started: 30 june 2008 | 01h

I needed answers.  Not only on how to treat this wound but on where it would've come from.  I searched photos of poisoness spider bites and came up empty.  To my favor if I might add.  A poisoness spider bite is something to be feared and respected. 
I was getting a little nervous.  If this wasn't from a poisiness spider what exactly was I dealing with?  Call it trial and error, call it home remedies, call it expanding my knowledge, call it gambling with my life, I don't go to the doctor unless absolutely necessary and after I have exhausted all allotted time for natural remedies to have a crack at what's pestering  me.  This of coarse would not be possible without the Internet since I don't have a degree in medicine.  To my disgust there was a strong case of some type of bacterial cross contamination from the laundry.  I thought I was better than that.  Boy did I have a rude awakening.
Honesty is the best policy and in this case I hope to save you from the sniffles, an infection or an ugly stomach virus.  I messed up.  I was separating colors from whites and yadda yadda yadda.  But I was not separating underwear or dishtowels from the common loads of laundry.  I just always washed everything on hot and dried each load till bone dry.  Apparently there are some nasty bacterias, viruses and yeasts (spores) that are stronger than your washer and dryers hottest setting. 
Apparently people of old knew this and used to boil their clothes.  If I'm not mistaken I remember a news story from a few years back where a lady caught her house on fire microwaving her clothes in an attempt to kill germs.              
Wash Day 1917

Today we're lured into buying cold water detergents and saving energy by hanging our clothes to dry.  That really sounds wonderful and I have images of a sunny, green world when I imagine my clothes hanging from a clothes line.  But are they sanitized?  And does it matter which path is taken to achieve a presentably clean outfit?  You bet it does!

Have you ever been to a house, maybe it's yours, where the dish rags get used over and over again?  The same old hand towel hangs on the handle of the fridge for all to dry or wipe their dirty hands on?  They have a unique smell called bacteria.  It makes the nostrils curl up and die.  Imagine what kind of infection you can get if it touches an open cut or dry cracked hands. 

Our immune systems were designed to fight off dangerous bacterias and viruses.  Otherwise we'd look and feel like decomposing zombies.  Unfortunately, every once in a while a little bugger will put our bodies to the test.  But having a few tricks up your sleeve to disinfect your laundry can keep your system from hitting overdrive and avoid risking the possibility of defeat. 

1.  Separate loads in cloth bags that can be washed.
Radar in My Laundry Bag
     (Make your own!  Check out

2.  Wash UNDERWEAR separately to prevent spreading fecal matter and yeast spores.
3.  Wash DISH RAGS separately to prevent spreading staph, e-coli and salmonella.
4.  Wash TOWELS separately to prevent staph and mildew from spreading.
5.  PILLOW CASES get washed/changed daily to prevent spreading staph (lives in the nose of about 30% of population) and acne break outs.  Make more out of t-shirts!  Great for college students!
6.  From there you can separate loads based on color, fabric and durability.
7.  Never use a dirty laundry bag or basket for distributing clean clothes.
HOW TO DISINFECT YOUR LAUNDRY (Only use one chemical, additive or oil in each load of wash to prevent harmful and life threatening chemical reactions):
1.  Wash on hot.
2.  Dry in dryer till bone dry.
3.  Add one cup of bleach.
4.  Add 2 teaspoons of tea tree oil.
5.  Add 1/2 teaspoon of grapefruit seed extract.  Why?  Even hospitals use the extract to kill Staph, Strep and MRSA's.
6.  Add one cup of hydrogen peroxide.
7.  Add one cup of Pine Sol or a similar product with the same active ingredients .
8.  Add one cup of white vinegar.
9.  Add a few drops of tea tree oil or grapefruit seed extract to your Leaping Sheep Wool Dryer Balls.
10.  If you have a disinfect or sanitize cycle on your washer or dryer...use it! 

Fingers crossed these simple steps and necessary efforts will pay off for you this winter with less stomach bugs and infections.  I know we've already put a lot of these tips into practice at our home and I won't be mixing loads of blatantly contaminated fabrics with normal loads ever again.  Of coarse there are still going to be door knobs, public restrooms and desks at work and school that can't be put into a washer and dryer but when you get home wash your hands and do your laundry the sanitary way.  For an added boost of protection eat healthy, get a daily blast of fresh air and sunlight, exercise, manage your stress and let yourself laugh.  As for my infected spider bite, all is well with a little bit of my natural treatments.  And next year, we'll be storing the Christmas decorations somewhere other than our old, dusty basement.   

Written by:  Jessica Connor

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