Stamping out bacterial soup

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You’ll be shocked, I know, but up until a month ago, I didn’t know who Dr Pixie McKenna was. I think this is because I started to watch an episode of Embarrassing Bodies with the girls when they were quite small (about 8 and 10), and the opening scenes featured an extreme close-up of a diseased scrotum. You could have heard the screaming in Dr Pixie’s native Ireland! We all ran around like headless chickens trying to find the remote, with me standing in front of the telly trying to block the worst bits of testicle. If we’d had smelling salts, we would all have needed them desperately.

Anyway, we are now all older, and some of us are calmer. Although I still find Embarrassing Bodies a bit, well, embarrassing, I’ve been loving Food Hospital, which also stars McKenna. So when Dettol asked me to take part in a test of its new anti-bacterial laundry cleanser, I was all for it.

Normally, I would cynically ponder whether a new product like this is inviting us to spend lots of money on a problem we didn’t know we had. But, in fact, I had noticed that all this washing at 30 or 40 degrees might be fine for saving the planet, but it was actually leaving my washing machine smelling quite swampy.

Well, lovely Dr Pixie confirms my fears. Washing below 60 degrees is encouraging a ‘bacterial soup’ to swirl around my washing machine, transferring bugs from item to item. Washed clothes turned out to have only 14 per cent less bacteria than dirty ones. Yuck! When you hear that the top ten germy clothes, when analysed, proved to be babygros, bedtime toys and PE kits, I’m sure you will share my shudders.

Some clothes can’t be washed at temperatures over 60 degrees – my Cath Kidston bedlinen has to be washed at 40, for example. So, to prevent the truly revolting spectre of bacterial soup, I have been adding a capful of Dettol laundry cleanser to my low-temp washes. Everything comes out looking and smelling lovely. In fact, it all came out well before, BUT the drum was often a bit whiffy if left for a while between washes (though that doesn’t happen often with six of us!). The change is now that the drum smells clean, and even the rubber seal is slime free (though still a repository for small bits of Lego, of course).

I’m a convert. I simply can’t abide the idea of soup in the house, unless it’s good old-fashioned leek and potato that I’ve made myself. But you can make up your own mind, by watching Dr Pixie’s video. See what you think.

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