an initiative of ACCORD


Clothing hygiene – WHY?

Dirty clothes, especially underwear and socks, can harbour microorganisms. Re-wearing dirty clothes many times or sharing dirty, sweaty sports equipment can lead to skin infections.

Unpleasant body odour can also arise from bacteria that accumulate on stains, from mould on clothing, and from stale cigarette smoke that has permeated fabric.

Shoe hygiene is also important. Feet have lots of sweat glands, so closed shoes in particular can provide warm, moist and dark environments where bacteria and fungi can thrive and cause bad smells and conditions such as athlete’s foot (tinea).

Clothing hygiene – HOW?

You should change and wash your clothing regularly.

Choose a quality laundry detergent to remove general soils and stains. There are many varieties of laundry detergent to choose from: powders and liquids; for top-loader or front-loader washing machines; for whites, colours or dark clothing; with added enzymes; with added fabric softener; with a variety of fragrances or fragrance-free; for sensitive skin; and with low phosphorus or no added phosphorus.

If you see a stain, treat it fast! There are many types of stain removal products, including spot treatments, soaks, and in-wash products. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and check your garment for colourfastness.

To help prevent the growth of mould, wet wash items should be hung or dried as soon as the wash cycle has finished, and damp clothing should not be left at the bottom of the washing basket. Mould can also build up in your washing machine, so it may help to leave the lid or door open between cycles.

Wearing leather shoes and cotton socks allows your feet to breathe more than materials such as vinyl. If you have been wearing a pair of shoes all day at work or school, take them off when you get home to try and give them a chance to dry out overnight. Some of your shoes may also be washable.

For more advice on effective and sustainable clothes washing check out Accord’s WashWise website at

useful stuff...

The human body may be home to 10 times as many bacteria as human cells. Researchers believe the human body has over 500 bacterial species living in and on it.7 Trouble getting a date? 75% of women in a New York survey said they would only date a guy who showered daily.8   20-30% of handbags have faecal bacteria on the underside.22 In 2006, women spent an average of 54 minutes and men 43 minutes per day on personal hygiene.9
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