“Come and whisper in my ear
Give us dirty laundry
Although laundering should mainly remove stains and dirt from used and worn textiles, the elimination of microbial contamination is an important aim of the laundry process as well. While industrial and institutional laundering employs standardized processes using high temperatures (i.e. 60°C and above) and bleaching agents to ensure a sufficient hygienic reconditioning of textiles, domestic laundering processes are less defined and not always led by purposeful aims. The strive for energy efficiency of household appliances has resulted in a decrease in washing temperatures in Europe during the last decades and convenience aspects led to an increased use of liquid detergents that do not contain bleach which in turn impacts the antimicrobial efficacy of domestic laundering. This review compiles the different factors that influence the input and removal of micro-organisms in the laundering process and discusses the possible adverse effects of microbial contaminants in the washing machine and on the textiles as well as suitable counteractions.