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April 13th: Low temperature laundering may not be effective in removing fungal contamination from socks

Low temperature laundering may not be effective in removing fungal contamination from socks

Athlete’s foot (Tinea pedis) is a common chronic skin disease.   In early 2013, IFH carried out a review of studies of the hygiene effectiveness of laundering, which showed that relatively few studies examined efficacy against fungal contamination. This study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of domestic laundering at different temperatures in the eradication of fungal pathogens from contaminated socks. Samples from 81 socks worn by patients suffering from tinea pedis were laundered at either 40 °C or 60 °C. Samples from socks washed at 40 °C revealed 29 (36%) positive fungal cultures, of which 14 came from the toe and 15 from the heel areas of socks. Trichophyton rubrum was isolated in four specimens, and Aspergillus spp. were found in 20 (70%) specimens. Samples from the same socks washed at 60 °C revealed five (6%) positive fungal cultures, of which three came from the toe and two from the heel areas of socks. Only Aspergillus spp. were detected. Yeasts were eradicated at 40 °C. The authors concluded that , contravening current trends for energy saving and environmental protection, laundering at low temperatures is not effective in eradicating fungal pathogens, which requires high-temperature laundering at 60 °C.

Boaz Amichai, Marcelo H. Grunwald, Batya Davidovici, Renata Farhi , Avner Shemer. The effect of domestic laundry processes on fungal contamination of socks. International Journal of Dermatology. 2013,Volume 52, Issue 11, pages 1392–1394. DOI: 10.1111/ijd.12167