How to Remove Biofilm from Clothes Safely and Easily

You might think that if you’re careful to wash your clothes, towels, and bedding often enough with hot water, detergent and bleach, you’ll be able to keep your family safe from harmful bacteria.

However, getting bacteria out of clothing can be challenging, and laundry detergent only does not always eliminate bacteria or germs.

A biofilm is a thin layer of organic material that sticks to surfaces and can be difficult to remove. Biofilm can form on clothing if the fabric does not dry properly and the moisture is trapped underneath. If the fabric stays wet long enough, it will start to smell musty and may even start growing mold.

Here are some tips for getting rid of biofilm from your clothes:

How to Remove Biofilm from Clothes

If you want to get rid of biofilm on clothing, there are a few steps you can take:

Soak in Hydrogen Peroxide

Put your clothes in a large bucket with warm water and add 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide per gallon of water (about 2 tbsp.) Let it sit for 30 minutes or longer if necessary. This will help break down the biofilm so it’s easier to remove later on. Hot water will kill the microorganisms that cause biofilm buildup on clothing.

Machine Wash with Vinegar

Machine-wash the clothes with vinegar and strong detergent on a hot cycle. The vinegar will kill any remaining bacteria in the wash cycle along with any leftover stains from the biofilm buildup on your clothes.

Other Ways to Remove Biofilm from Clothes

Laundry Sanitizer

Laundry sanitizer is a great way to kill bacteria and germs in your laundry. It works by breaking down the biofilm that builds up on fabrics. You can buy laundry sanitizer at most grocery stores, or you can make your own.


Borax is another good product for removing biofilm from your clothes. It’s an inexpensive natural mineral that has many uses around the house. Borax breaks down the biofilm and helps remove it from your clothes. You can find borax at most grocery stores, or you can make your own laundry booster with borax, vinegar, and essential oils.

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is another effective cleaner that will break down biofilm and eliminate odors from clothing. However, it should only be used on cotton fabrics because it can damage synthetic materials like nylon or polyester.

Use a commercial laundry detergent with enzymes or bleach. Enzymes will eat away at biofilm as they clean your clothes, while bleach will kill off any remaining bacteria or germs left over after the cleaning process has completed.

Tide Ultra Anti-Germ Detergent Washing Powder

Tide Ultra Anti-Germ Detergent Washing Powder has enzymes in it, as does Dawn Soap. Oxiclean is a popular brand name for an enzyme-containing product, but there are other brands.

Enzymes work by breaking down the biofilm into smaller pieces that wash away with the rest of the laundry. This also helps get rid of any stains that might be on your clothes.

Removing Biofilm FAQs

Does Vinegar Remove Biofilm?

Vinegar is a natural disinfectant, and it can kill bacteria, molds, and mildew. It’s also a good solvent for removing mineral deposits, rust, and stains. It will vinegar remove biofilm from clothing.

Is Biofilm on Clothes a Real Thing?

Yes, biofilms are real and they are most often caused by bacteria. The bacteria adhere to surfaces and creates a slime-like film that is hard to remove once it has been created.

Does Laundry Sanitizer Remove Biofilm?

Laundry sanitizers do not remove biofilm from clothes. Some laundry sanitizers contain alcohol which can kill some types of bacteria but it will not kill all types of bacteria or stop them from forming on your clothes in the future.

Does Detergent Remove Biofilm?

The answer is no, detergent does not remove biofilm from your clothing or any other surface for that matter! Because the biofilm is created by bacteria, it needs to be treated with an antibacterial product that targets these types of organisms specifically.

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