Does Ironing Kill Bacteria? Exploring the Benefits and Effectiveness

Ironing is a common household task that many regularly perform to keep their clothes neat and wrinkle-free. However, did you know this seemingly mundane chore may offer more benefits than just making your garments look crisp and tidy? One intriguing aspect of Ironing is its potential to eliminate bacteria that reside on clothing which leaves us wondering does ironing kill bacteria? These tiny organisms are found abundantly in our surroundings, and can cause diseases. Considering that we come into contact with bacteria from our skin and the environment, minimizing their presence on our clothes becomes crucial. While not all bacteria are harmful, some can pose health risks, making exploring the connection between Ironing and bacterial control essential.

Bacteria can be reduced and removed if you give them a good wash in hot water and use quality detergent. However, cleaning alone may not remove all bacteria, especially those adhering to the fabric. This is where ironing comes into play. Ironing involves using a hot iron to smooth out wrinkles and creases in clothing. The heat from the iron may also have some antibacterial properties. So, does ironing kill bacteria? Actually yes! According to some sources, Ironing can kill bacteria by subjecting them to high temperatures so they cannot survive.

The temperature at which bacteria is more likely to be killed

However, the effectiveness of ironing as a means of killing bacteria is unsure. But Is ironing bad for clothes? No ! Ironing itself is very beneficial for clothes. The temperature required to kill bacteria varies depending on the bacteria type and the exposure duration. The temperature of a typical household iron ranges from 120°C to 210°C (248°F to 410°F). While this is higher than the minimum temperature required to kill some bacteria, it may not be enough to kill all types. Additionally, the duration of exposure to heat also plays a crucial role in killing bacteria. Ironing a garment for a few seconds may not be enough to kill bacteria thoroughly.

Does Ironing Kill Bacteria?

Moreover, it is essential to note that Ironing does not remove bacteria from clothing. Ironing can only kill bacteria on the fabric’s surface, but it cannot remove bacteria that have penetrated deep into the fabric. Therefore, washing clothes properly before ironing them is necessary to remove any bacteria that may be present.

Preventive measures

Ironing can also hurt some types of fabric. High heat can damage delicate fabrics such as silk and wool. It can also cause synthetic materials such as polyester to melt or shrink. Therefore, it is essential to check the instruction tag on clothing before ironing to ensure the fabric can bear the heat. Regarding reducing bacteria on clothing, it’s also necessary to consider good hygiene practices. Bacteria multiply in moist environments, so ensure that clothes are thoroughly dried after washing. Wet clothing is an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, so it’s necessary to avoid leaving damp clothes around for extended periods.

Keeping health as a priority

Washing clothes after each use is essential, especially if they have come into contact with bodily fluids such as sweat, saliva, or blood. People in healthcare work spaces or industries that require close contact with others need to be very careful. Wearing the same clothes many times without washing them can lead to buildup and potentially spread infection.

Methods of reducing bacteria from clothes

In addition to washing clothes, there are other methods of reducing bacteria on clothing, such as using antimicrobial fabrics. The chemicals in these fabrics can hinder the growth of bacteria, lowering the risk of infection. Antimicrobial materials are commonly used in hospital settings to reduce the spread of disease.

However, it’s important to note that antimicrobial fabrics have been debated in recent years. Experts often criticize antimicrobial products for their potential to cause the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria through their excessive use. Therefore, using antimicrobial fabrics judiciously and only in situations with a high infection risk is essential.

Does Ironing Kill Viruses?

Ironing may potentially kill viruses, but its effectiveness depends on the temperature and duration of the process. Certain viruses can be deactivated by the heat generated during Ironing, but not all viruses respond equally to heat exposure. The World Health Organization recommends that temperatures of 56°C or higher for at least 30 minutes can effectively inactivate the coronavirus responsible for causing COVID-19.

Does Ironing Kill Viruses

It’s important to note, however, that ironing alone may not be sufficient to disinfect surfaces or clothing contaminated with the virus thoroughly. Health authorities suggest using appropriate cleaning products, washing dresses and surfaces at high temperatures, and practicing good hygiene habits like frequent handwashing and mask-wearing to kill viruses effectively.

Why Is Ironing necessary?

Why Is Ironing necessary

Ironing your clothes provides multiple benefits beyond just removing wrinkles from the fabric. Some of the critical advantages of ironing your clothes include the following:

Enhanced Appearance: Ironing makes clothes look neat, clean, and professional, improving their appearance. This is particularly crucial for business environments or formal occasions where presentation is essential.

Elimination of Germs: Ironing clothes can help eradicate germs and bacteria that may be present on the fabric, especially when using high heat.

Durability: Ironing can help increase the lifespan of your clothes by preventing the fabric from deteriorating due to the accumulation of dirt, sweat, and oils. This is especially valid for delicate fabrics that can easily tear or become damaged when not adequately cared for.

Time-Saving: Ironing your clothes in advance can save you time in the long run by preventing last-minute ironing emergencies. It can decrease the necessity for expensive fabric care services, such as dry cleaning.

Boost in Confidence: Wearing freshly ironed clothes may boost your confidence and self-esteem by providing a well-groomed and polished appearance. This is especially important in professional environments or social gatherings where you aim to leave a positive impression.

Use of laundry additives

Another consideration is the use of laundry additives such as bleach or vinegar. These products can help kill bacteria and fungi on clothing, but using them correctly is essential. Bleach should be used according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and it’s necessary to ensure it’s compatible with the washed fabric. Although vinegar can serve as a natural substitute for bleach, diluting it properly before using it is crucial.

The best way to store clothes

The best way to store clothes

It’s also important to note that some bacteria can survive in a dormant state on clothing for extended periods. Therefore, storing clean clothes properly is essential to prevent bacteria buildup. Washing clothes before wearing them,  if they are stored for a long time, is also necessary.

Frequently Asked questions

Yes, high heat can kill bacteria from the surface of the clothes. Heat in any form can be effective in killing bacteria. Washing or ironing hot water at a higher temperature can kill bacteria.

Ironing can heat the fabric but has nothing to do with smell. A good option for killing the scent is to spread or hang the garment in the sunlight. Fresh air and sunlight can help kill the smell of fabric.

Bacteria cause many infections, and one of the main viruses is HPV. Steaming can kill viruses. Washing clothes alone can not kill any bacteria or viruses. Cooking your clothes, especially bed sheets would eliminate viruses or HPV.

Yes, ironing at a high temperature can kill mold. Vinegar plays a vital role in killing fungus, so a quick trick is to wash your clothes in hot water and add a small cup of white vinegar. Then after drying, iron clothes on high heat. The mold will go away.

If you plan to steam your clothing, boil it at least twice to eliminate bacteria. A high temperature of iron is recommended for killing bacteria quickly at home.

According to medical research, spas, saunas, and steam rooms can contain germs and microscopic organisms that can cause skin rashes and allergies. Therefore it is recommended to keep the steam room clean and sanitized regularly. Also, a vent should always be open for fresh air to circulate. This helps prevent bacteria from increasing or causing infections in a steam room.

Bacteria are everywhere. They can not survive high heat. A temperature ranging from 140-165 degrees can kill bacteria. Heat above 212 degrees can instantly kill bacteria.

Ironing does help get rid of germs. The primary purpose of ironing clothes is to get a pleasant look of the attire, but steam from an iron can kill bed bugs and remove 99.9% of germs from the fabric. In other words, steaming clothes sanitizes them. Similarly, ironing your fabric at high heat can help eliminate bacteria and germs.


Ironing may have some antibacterial properties but is unreliable for killing bacteria on clothing. The temperature and duration of exposure required to kill bacteria may vary depending on the type of bacteria, and the heat from a household iron may not be high enough to kill all kinds of bacteria. To reduce bacteria on clothing effectively, washing clothes in hot water with a good detergent is the best option.

Emma Glubiak

About Author

Emma Glubiak  is a freelance and blogger with a passion for all things related to home, kitchen, and clothes. With years of experience writing informative and engaging content, Emma has honed her skills in delivering compelling articles that resonate with readers.

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