Laundry 101: How to wash your clothes during COVID-19 pandemic

Coronavirus
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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 is spread “through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.”

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.

Transmission of coronavirus occurs much more commonly through respiratory droplets than through fomites.

Current evidence suggests that novel coronavirus may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials, including clothing.

If someone in your household is ill, follow these guidelines from the CDC when washing laundry.

  • Wear disposable gloves when handling dirty laundry from an ill person and then discard after each use. If using reusable gloves, those gloves should be dedicated for cleaning and disinfection of surfaces for COVID-19 and should not be used for other household purposes. Clean hands immediately after gloves are removed.
    • If no gloves are used when handling dirty laundry, be sure to wash hands afterwards.
    • If possible, do not shake dirty laundry. This will minimize the possibility of dispersing virus through the air.
    • Launder items as appropriate in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely. Dirty laundry from an ill person can be washed with other people’s items.
    • Clean and disinfect clothes hampers according to guidance above for surfaces. If possible, consider placing a bag liner that is either disposable (can be thrown away) or can be laundered.

According to family and emergency Dr. Janette Nesheiwat, polyester, spandex-like material may hold germs longer than fabrics that are ‘breathable,’ such as cotton.

Laundromats

If you don’t have access to a washer and dryer inside your home or apartment, it is safe to go to the laundromat, said public health specialist Carol Winner.

Be sure to practice social distancing, six feet away from others, and also practice protective measures.

These measures include wearing gloves, washing your hands, not touching your face and disinfecting all surfaces of the machines you use. If you don’t have access to gloves, be sure to use hand sanitizer and wash your hands as soon as you get home.

“The only way the viral particles become active is to get into your mouth, nose and eyes, so if you wear gloves, don’t touch your face and remove them properly following CDC’s guidelines, you should be fine,” Winner told The Huffington Post.

Detergents

Rohde added it’s important to pay attention to the detergent you use.

“I would recommend that you wash clothes in detergents that contain a bleach compound,” Rohde said. “Viruses do not do well at all in this type of harsh environment.”

Fragrance-free detergents are also great to use as they don’t contain petrochemical perfumes which can aggravate allergies and irritate sensitive skin.

Click here for a list of products from the American Chemistry Council that can be used against viral pathogens and COVID-19.

For more laundry tips, click here.

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