COVID-19 and laundry: what you need to know

COVID-19 has rocked the world in many ways. How has it altered how you deal with the day-to-day? Are you a front-line worker who strips off the moment you walk through your door, so you can wash off the day and minimise the risk to your family? Perhaps since the restrictions have begun to lift you are someone who has developed a system for keeping things clean and minimising the risk of the virus in your home through cleaning and washing rituals?

When it comes to clothing, here are a few things to consider.

The temperature of the wash matters

Over the years many of us have started to wash our clothes at lower temperatures for environmental reasons. The global pandemic has meant that the environment has been able to restore itself in many ways due to less pollution from traffic and travel, meaning you shouldn’t feel too bad about upping the temperature for a while.

During a pandemic, it is vital that you wash your clothes at higher temperatures than you usually would. Our normal body temperature is around 37oC, which also happens to be the optimum temperature for bacteria and germs to thrive at. This means that cleaning clothes at 30oC is not high enough to kill these germs and bacteria. Turn up the heat a little and pop your clothes on a higher temperature wash. Most items of clothing are okay to be washed at 60 oC, but do check those ribbed loungewear sets. If you are someone who is in work, using public transport or generally in higher risk situations where you are already mixing with lots of other people, this will be especially important.

Drying matters

Tumble dryers are controversial given the strain they place on the environment. However, during these times they are useful in keeping the virus away.

As an added precaution you can dry your clothes in a dryer, and/or iron them. Ironing is commonly done to a temperature of 180–220 °C – no bacteria or germ can survive at this temperature, meaning this is another way to stay germ free.

Make sure everything you are drying is completely dry before it is put away, watch out for damp socks, cuffs on your favourite boxy loungewear set and other thick areas of items. Damp conditions breed bacteria.

Cleaning your machine is important

The COVID-19 outbreak has highlighted the importance of keeping your washing machine clean. Your washing machine is having to deal with a whole host of germs that have come from outside when at work, school, or even just in the shops. Cleaning out the washing mashing is one of those things that often gets neglected, but it is now more important than ever to keep your machine disinfected.

This is something you should do anyway, not just during a pandemic. The amount of germs and microbes that can build within your machine if you don’t disinfect it often is stomach churning. I add a cap of liquid disinfectant to the machine and wash at 60 oC, but you could also use something like vinegar to stop the build up of bacteria and germs.

Bottom line, you can’t expect you favourite lilac top to be clean when your machine isn’t clean itself can you?

Changing your clothes frequently is important

We know that the virus can survive on hard surfaces for lengthy periods of time. This is one of the reasons having people in your home is so problematic, given the amount of different surfaces. There is less information around how long it can survive on clothing, but some reports have suggested that the virus can remain on clothes from a few hours, up to a week! Even if it’s just the loungewear you wore on the bus, change it.

This means that changing your clothes frequently is important. Don’t leave clothing you’ve been out of the home in lying around where other family members can come into contact with it.

Other considerations

For added piece of mind you could add an anti-bacterial laundry product to the wash and use an anti-bacterial spray on things like shoes and coats. These products were hard to get hold of at the start of lockdown, but this seems much easier now.

This is a collaborative article.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *