Athlete's Foot in the Laundry Basket -- COMPAMED Trade Fair
Photo: Trichophyton rubrum fungus under the microscope
The researchers say they used
a new measurement method;
© Hohenstein Institute

Where contaminated articles of clothing are stored with other pieces of clothing, there is a possibility that fungus spores can be transferred from one textile to another. Only laundry washed at 60°C did not contain any verifiable fungus spores on the tested textile material.

For their tests, the researchers used a very sensitive germ measurement method, which radioactively marks the athlete's foot fungus, making it possible to verify individual spores in a matter of minutes. Following the washing cycles, it was possible to precisely detect fungus spores on individual textiles or in rinsing water. The researchers are currently using this new method to try to develop a new anti-athlete's foot sock.

In order to assess the infection risk through infected textiles, the researches initially cultivated the pathogens of athlete’s foot in artificial culture media, followed by a simulation of laundry storage in a typical household. In this way they tested whether fungus spores are transferred from contaminated to non-contaminated socks while stored in the laundry basket.

The clear result: for all tests, germs were transferred to the previously uncontaminated textiles. Therefore people suffering from athlete's foot should always store their socks separate from other textiles.

But are the fungus spores destroyed during the subsequent washing cycle? To answer this question, the researchers subjected the cotton swatches which were loaded with spores to several washing cycles in a common domestic washing machine. In the first cycle, the test material was washed at 30°C using an all-in-one detergent. The result: a portion of fungus spores survived the cycle virtually unscathed and remained infectious. Hence it appears that the risk of infection within one's own house cannot be adequately addressed with a low-temperature washing cycle. For this reason additional washing cycles were carried out at 60°C, and fungus cultures of the washed textile samples were started. In this case, the researchers were able to give the all-clear: All pieces of clothing were free of athlete's foot germs.; Source: Hohenstein Institute