International Journal of Legal Medicine

, Volume 132, Issue 2, pp 373–378 | Cite as

Laundry in a washing machine as a mediator of secondary and tertiary DNA transfer

  • Lev Voskoboinik
  • Merav Amiel
  • Ayeleth Reshef
  • Ron Gafny
  • Mark Barash
Original Article


The aim of this work was to investigate the possibility of secondary and tertiary DNA transfer during laundry. The modes of transfer tested were mixed and separate laundry of worn and unworn garments in household and public washing machines. In addition, the possibility of a background DNA carry-over from a washing machine’s drum was investigated. In the mixed (worn and unworn garments washed together) laundry experiment, 22% of samples from new unworn socks with no traceable DNA prior to experiment produced DNA profiles post-laundry. In the tertiary DNA transfer experiment performed in a public washing machine (unworn garments only), no detectable DNA profiles were observed. Samples collected from the internal drum of 25 washing and drying machines did not produce detectable STR profiles. The implications of these results are discussed in the context of forensic DNA casework analysis.

Graphical Abstract

ᅟA real-life scenario of secondary DNA transfer between worn and unworn garments during machine washing has been evaluated. Experiments demonstrated this scenario is possible (22% of samples) and may in fact result in high quality DNA profiles. On the contrary, testing washing machine’s interior for deposition of biological material between separate washing cycles to serve as a mediator of tertiary DNA transfer resulted in no DNA profiles.


Forensic science Forensic DNA analysis Secondary DNA transfer Tertiary DNA transfer STR analysis Laundry 

Supplementary material

414_2017_1617_MOESM1_ESM.docx (20 kb)
Supplemental Table 1 (DOCX 20 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.DNA and Forensic Biology Laboratory, Division of Identification and Forensic Science, Israel Police, National HQJerusalemIsrael
  2. 2.Faculty of Health and MedicineBond UniversityQLDAustralia
  3. 3.Centre for Forensic ScienceUniversity of Technology SydneyBroadwayAustralia

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