Many aspects of our life change when we are going through difficult times, especially when it comes to a viral illness spreading and during this period, we have to adapt to the new situation and adopt new routines, including the way we do our laundry. There are some factors that could make the difference between getting sick and staying healthy, like how often we wash, how do our laundry, and even where we keep our dirty clothes.
We searched for practical and scientific-based facts that will help you keep your clothes clean and make you feel confident wearing now that germs are more threatening than ever.
Remove the clothes when you return home
Anytime you go outside, either to a grocery or just for a short walk around the block, you expose yourself to outside germs. That’s why it’s recommended to take your clothes off in a safe area, in a hall and place them in the laundry bin or wash them right away. Take a new set of clothes before you settle in on the sofa. 3 to 6 feet of personal space is enough to contaminate your clothes even if you don’t have close contact with someone. Most viral illnesses (including COVID-19) spread by droplets, which means potentially infected fluid from someone’s sneeze or cough could land on you. If you’re using the ends of your sleeves like gloves to grab objects like door handles you could be picking up pathogens from surfaces.
Is someone from your family sick? Use gloves when you do the laundry
Be extra cautious if someone is sick in your home. To avoid infecting yourself, along with keeping the soiled clothes away from your face and body while laundering, CDC recommends wearing gloves while you do laundry to avoid infecting yourself. Toss the disposable gloves and thoroughly wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water immediately after washing the clothes.
Use a sanitizing product for the laundry
Hot water and a hot dryer are often effective sterilizers, but using heat on your clothes often can wear down your garments relatively quickly. The same goes for the “sanitize” cycle on your washer. In this case, it is recommended to use a sanitizing product for the laundry, preferably one that contains sodium polycarbonate.
Warm water and the dryer are your allies
Washing your clothes in warm water and then running your items through the dryer are useful solutions if you don’t have a sanitizing product. The dryer part is important because you know you’ll get ample heat through a dry cycle, but you can’t always guarantee the water in your washing machine will be hot enough to take care of germs. “If it were me and I didn’t have a bleach alternative product, I’d use my normal laundry method then put everything in the dryer,” says Minneapolis-based laundry expert Patric Richardson.
Last, but not least, the steamer could also help you in the fight against germs due to its high heat. If you didn’t use to steam your clothes until now, it is time to start doing it.