Enteric virus survival during household laundering and impact of disinfection with sodium hypochlorite

Charles P. Gerba, Denise Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


This study was conducted to determine whether enteric viruses (adenovirus, rotavirus, and hepatitis A virus) added to cotton cloth swatches survive the wash cycle, the rinse cycle, and a 28-min permanent press drying cycle as commonly practiced in households in the United States. Detergent with and without bleach (sodium hypochlorite) was added to washing machines containing sterile and virus-inoculated 58-cm2 swatches, 3.2 kg of cotton T-shirts and underwear, and a soiled pillowcase designed to simulate the conditions (pH, organic load, etc.) encountered in soiled laundry. The most important factors for the reduction of virus in laundry were passage through the drying cycle and the addition of sodium hypochlorite. Washing with detergent alone was not found to be effective for the removal or inactivation of enteric viruses, as significant concentrations of virus were found on the swatches (reductions of 92 to 99%). It was also demonstrated that viruses are readily transferred from contaminated cloths to uncontaminated clothes. The use of sodium hypochlorite reduced the number of infectious viruses on the swatches after washing and drying by at least 99.99%. Laundering practices in common use in the United States do not eliminate enteric and respiratory viruses from clothes. The use of bleach can further reduce the numbers of enteric viruses in laundry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4425-4428
Number of pages4
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Food Science
  • Ecology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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