As we grow more and more aware of precautions we should take in light of the has told us that some viruses can remain active after two or three days on plastic and stainless steel, 24 hours on cardboard and four hours on copper,” she said. Be aware that some of your buttons, zippers and other clothing hardware could be made of those materials.
Is it safe to go to the laundrette right now?
For individuals who don’t have access to a washing machine and dryer in their home or flat, laundrette are a crucial way to clean clothes.
And while current guidelines encourage social distancing (personal distancing of six feet) to prevent Covid-19 from spreading, Winner said laundrettes are generally safe to go to ― if the right precautions are taken, of course.
These typically include protective measures such as wearing gloves, washing your hands, not touching your face and disinfecting all surfaces of the machines you use.
“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,” she explained.
However, if you do not have access to gloves, she added that sanitising your hands while at, and before leaving, the laundrette, can help. Additionally, you’ll also want to wash your hands for up to 20 to 30 seconds once arriving at home.
If you’re concerned about whether your clothes will come out of a shared washing machine safely, Dr. Georgine Nanos said not to worry.
“Yes, it is safe to use [a shared washing machine] right now because the virus is killed by washing your clothes over 80 degrees Fahrenheit, from what we currently understand,” she said. “The more challenging issue is going to be the social distancing and contact with potentially contaminated surfaces and people in the laundrette. Not the washing itself.”
What temperature should I wash my clothes at?
When it comes time to wash clothes, Winner said there are specific guidelines you’ll want to follow in order to help kill the virus. This includes using the hot water setting on your washing machine and giving your clothes some extra time and heat in the dyer.
“Whenever possible, use the hot water setting, as it helps to kill the virus,” she said. “Extra heat, and time in the dryer, do make sense, as the droplets should dry out, which would likely inactivate the virus.”
However, while Nanos agreed about washing clothes in hot water, she warned against boiling them in high temperatures.
“If you can wash your clothes in the hottest water possible recommended for that material, that would be ideal,” Nanos said. “However, please don’t ruin all your clothes by boiling everything, as that will add more stress and anxiety that none of us need right now.”
What kind of detergent should I use?
Rodney E. Rohde, chair and professor of the Clinical Laboratory Science Program at Texas State University, reiterated the importance of washing clothes in warm or hot water, but also advised paying attention to the detergent you are using.
“I would recommend that you wash clothes in detergents that contain a bleach compound,” Rohde told HuffPost. “Viruses do not do well at all in this type of harsh environment.”
If you don’t have access to a machine, is hand-washing effective?
If you don’t have access to washing facilities, Nanos said that “you can hand wash your clothes at home as long as you can get the temperature above 80 degrees Fahrenheit.” She added that it remains “easier and faster if you can wash your clothes in a regular washing machine, which is still totally safe and will kill the virus even if you were washing your clothes with sick people‘s clothes.”
How often should you wash your clothing?
While some people may wait to do their washing until they’re faced with big piles of it, Winner recommended regularly washing your clothes, especially if you are still required to report to work or have been in crowded areas.
“It’s best, as always, to regularly wash your clothes,” she said. “If you have been in a crowded area, you might want to remove your clothing when you come into the house and put it in the washing container or washer to be prudent.”
This also extends to outwear; Nanos suggested it’s wise to wash coats often.
“You should wash your coat if you are using your elbows or your sleeves to touch frequently used items and potentially contaminated surfaces such as elevator buttons, handrails and door handles,” she said.
“Do not treat your clothing with Lysol,” Nesheiwat said. “However, there are anti-germal clothing sprays that can be used.”
Should I remove my clothing when returning home from work each day?
Since the goal is block exposure to the coronavirus, Amler advised changing your clothes if you are still reporting to work daily or are commuting in large crowd environments.
“You should change your clothes and wash them any time others have touched them or you have been in large group gatherings,” he said.
However, this doesn’t mean you have to change in the garage to avoid contact with clean clothing, according to Nanos; she advised getting in the habit in keeping these clothes stored in a separate bag.
“Being in health care for most of my life, I’ve always done this anyway, as I am exposed to more infectious diseases than most people,” she said. “So I agree it’s good practice ― maybe not necessarily stripping down in the garage, but at least getting in the habit of putting on other clothes and shoes once getting home.”
Should a sick person wash their clothing separately?
This question has probably crossed everyone’s mind, especially in households with more than two people.
“It’s best to wash a sick person’s clothing separately always,” Nesheiwat said. “Clothing can carry staph, E.coli, flu, etc.”