Athlete's foot is a common problem that can be spread to others through infected socks in the laundry basket. Researchers from the Institute for Hygiene and Biotechnology at the Hohenstein Institute in Boennigheim, Germany have completed a study that proves infected socks and other garments can actually transmit the fungus to other textiles in an open laundry basket.
Athlete's foot occurs when skin is exposed to excessive moisture and warmth encouraging the fungus to grow. The fungus spores multiply and can flake off onto socks, shoes and other garments especially anything stored in a closed space like a bag or locker. The researchers now know that the fungus spores will spread to other fabrics even in an open laundry basket. For items that are not normally washed in hot water, the fungus will survive in the washer and continue the chance of infection. Athlete's foot can spread to hands and other parts of the body is left untreated.
How to Handle Athlete's Foot Laundry
- Separate infected socks and laundry from other items until laundered. If you use a mesh bag for holding laundry, throw it in the wash with each load. If using a plastic basket or hamper, rinse it out with a diluted solution of chlorine bleach and water while each load is in the washer.
- Disinfect gym bags and backpacks regularly. If they cannot be washed in hot water, use disinfectant wipes or a cloth dipped in diluted chlorine bleach and water.
- Use hot water (140 degrees F. or 60 degrees C.) and regular detergent for infected laundry. Lower temperatures will not kill the fungus and can transfer spores to other fabrics in the same load.
- For white cotton socks, you can use chlorine bleach along with the hot water to disinfect the fabric. To prevent fading of colored socks, use a non-chlorine method of disinfecting.
- Wool socks, cannot at a high temperature. You can disinfect them using a non-chlorine disinfectant and cold water wash.
Following these steps will help in the prevention and treatment of Athlete's foot. For more information on treatment and prevention, consult About.com Orthopedics.
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