Life in 2020 is a weird time for many people. Coping with the effects of the coronavirus certainly isn’t easy, but in a way, normal tasks need to go on as much as possible. Cooking, cleaning, and laundry, for example, aren’t going away right now and still need to be completed. Though some of us are probably changing our clothes less often because of being indoors so much, laundry time will roll around at least twice a week for busy families and perhaps once a week for anyone living alone.
Is it necessary to wash clothing every time you go outside?
Scientists have agreed that the coronavirus can last several days on surfaces such as plastic, wood, and metal, but it’s not quite clear on how it can last on clothing material just yet. It’s likely less time, but it’s really only necessary to wash clothing if you’ve been around someone who has been coughing or sneezing near you, but this is especially important for healthcare workers.
If it makes you feel better to wash your clothing every time you’ve been outside of your quarantine zone, then it can’t hurt, but it isn’t explicitly required if you just went to the supermarket and back home – best to stick to your normal laundry schedule, otherwise you might be washing clothes more than you need. Remember to wear gloves when going outside and it wouldn’t hurt to give your shoes a clean with a disinfectant wipe when coming inside, either.
As for how to wash your clothes, stick to the normal guidelines on the clothing label and try to wash on the hottest setting according to the instructions. Use your normal laundry detergent, whether that be powder, liquid, or laundry pods, as these can help make it clearer as to how many more washes you’ve got before another supermarket run.
What are the laundry precautions when caring for someone who has a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus?
For anyone living with someone, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that carers should always wear gloves when touching laundry, such as towels, clothing, and linen that has been used by someone with a suspected or confirmed case. Ideally, these should be disposable gloves and thrown away after handling the laundry, and you should wash your hands thoroughly (using hot water and soap and washing for around 15-20 seconds). For other laundry tips in this setting, consider the following:
- Don’t shake any laundry before placing it into the washing machine, and this could move the virus around the room
- Follow the instructions for each particular laundry item, but use the hottest water according to the guidelines on the tag (don’t be tempted to pour in more laundry detergent or wash it twice)
- If the clothing can handle being in a dryer, then do so, otherwise hang them on a clothing line and dry as normal
- Clean clothing baskets as well, as this can help reduce infections. Check out the CDC guide for cleaning surfaces here
- According to the CDC, it’s okay to wash clothing from affected and unaffected persons together in the same washing machine. Wash them separately if it makes you feel better, or you could even use a special laundry bag for the affected items and place them in there.
Interesting related article: “What is the Coronavirus?”