Biological evidence of sexual violence, such as semen, can change due to fabric washing. This can be due to attempts by the perpetrator to eliminate evidence or because the victim feels ashamed of sexual violence. While much research on this topic has been conducted, no systematic review has been attempted. This systematic review explores the effect of fabric machine-washing on the persistence of human spermatozoa deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). This systematic review seeks in vitro experiments in which semen-stained fabrics were washed by washing machines, published in English, and matched with keywords in PubMed, Europe PMC, ScienceDirect, and Google Scholar. We then assessed the obtained articles with the Joanna Briggs Institute quasi-experimental checklist. This systematic review used the narrative synthesis method. Our search yielded five articles. These articles observe the effect of machine-washing factors on the persistence of human spermatozoa DNA, such as water temperature, washing duration, detergent type, washing repetition, and duration of fabric storage before washing. This systematic review shows that fabric washing insignificantly affects spermatozoa DNA persistence, and DNA might persist after multiple washes. However, variations in the articles indicate that future studies on this topic need to account for more variables and be reported in more detail to reduce bias.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102179
JournalLegal Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


  • DNA
  • Fabric washing
  • Persistence
  • Semen
  • Spermatozoa


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