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How to Wash Clothes to Prevent COVID-19?

Corona-Washing-Clothes

It is not unknown to people, all over the world, that the COVID-19 virus can easily live on various surfaces from where it might get transferred on to a larger crowd of people. This is especially true for things that are touched often like TV remote control, sheets, door handles, and so on. One of the most common disseminators of this virus are contaminated clothes, which is why we have put together a small guide to explain the correct way of doing washing clothes to prevent COVID-19.

Many people on social media have explained their worries about whether or not they need to wash and change their clothes in an attempt to keep themselves free from COVID-19.  Infectious disease experts, however, are of the opinion that though you need to ensure that your clothes are regularly washed and kept disease-free, this need not be done too often. However, there are some best practices which you need to follow when you are managing your dirty clothes which could be contaminated. Sarah Fortune, who is the professor and chairperson of the department of immunology and infectious disease in the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, informed MarketWatch that an average person should not worry a lot about their clothing, and their primary focus should remain on their hands, face and other open surfaces. However, medical personnel needs to be careful with their laundry because of their increased exposure to contaminated air.

In this article, we have discussed:

  • How to Manage Laundry the Right Way
  • What You Should Worry About
  • How to Do Laundry the Right Way
  • Commonly Asked Questions

How to Manage Laundry the Right Way?

COVID-19 spreads primarily from one person to another if people come closer than six feet from each other. It can also spread through the droplets of a patient’s sneeze or cough, as stated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The most important aspect of protecting people from COVID-19 is following the rules of social distancing and keeping yourself as clean as possible. People can also contract this virus when they touch an infected surface or object, including clothes. After you have touched a contaminated surface, you might happen to touch your mouth, nose, or eyes, which could transfer the virus from your clothes to your body.

Although it is not clearly known how COVID-19 virus interacts with fabric and clothing, in general, coronavirus is known to last longer on solid, non-porous surfaces as compared to the fabric which might have pores. When picking out your clothes, you might want to choose artificial fibers like polyester, which are less susceptible to keeping this disease. Medical professionals need to take extra precautions when managing their clothes. After they have been in a crowded area where people might have touched their clothes, health professionals should definitely consider changing their clothes. This claim was especially emphasized by Robert Amler, who is also the dean of New York Medical College’s School of Health Sciences and Practices; he has previously also worked with CDC.

He also says that it is common sense to keep your clothes laundered after due exposure. If you have smooth surface clothing like leather and vinyl, then you should wipe them time and again while you are in a public place. The experts from Harvard Medical Schools have advised that caregivers of COVID-19 patients need to wash their clothes thoroughly by removing and washing bedding and clothes that might have stool, blood, or bodily fluids on them. Even when touching these items, you should take care to wear disposable gloves.

What You Should Worry About?

Infectious disease physician Gabriela Andujar Vazquez, from Tufts Medical Center in Boston, has said that an average person did not have to wash their clothes more than is usual after they have visited any store. In all probability, it is safe for you to go back home in the clothes you wore outside and do the things that you would have done prior to the pandemic. It is important, however, that you wash your hands or any exposed body parts which might have come in contact with cough or sneeze droplets. Your clothes have to be washed like you would have washed them any other day, only your hands and arms must be washed after.

Most experts agree that sneeze droplets will not last as long on clothing as they will last on surfaces like wood or plastic. The chief of infectious diseases, Faheem Younus from the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health has urged that people invest in more long term plans like staying home if sick, staying clear of sick people, keeping your hands clean and avoiding getting too close to people. Instead of changing your clothes very often, these are the small things you should be more cautious of since most of our life ahead is going to be based around a similar routine. Younus also states that a time might come when the people who are very careful about their clothing presently might begin to shake hands and forget hand hygiene, which is what needs to be avoided.

How to Wash Clothes the Right Way?

Laundering linens and clothes safely is very important for people who might be going out to buy essentials and may come in contact with asymptomatic carriers.  Follow the tips below to make sure that you’re cleaning all your garments effectively.

Keep the Contaminated Clothes Separate

Experts don’t really know how long the SARS-CoV-2 virus remains active on clothes and other fibers. Early research has shown that the virus is capable of surviving on cardboard for up to 24 hours and on plastic for up to 72 hours. Thus, it is possible that the virus might remain active on your clothes for hours or days; however, there is no data available on that yet. In case you’re in a compromising position and have to take care of someone in the house who is sick, or if you have to clean the clothes of some family member who might have been exposed to the COVID-19 virus, then your clothes should be considered contaminated and kept in a laundry bin separate from the rest of your clothes and household items. If you can place a disposable or washable liner in the laundry bin, it will be even better for you can get rid of that or clean it after you have removed the dirty clothes. Koushik Kasanagottu, who is an internal medicine resident at Johns Hopkin Bayview Medical Center, has said that as a healthcare professional, he takes extra care with washing his clothes and sequesters them when he returns home.

Handling Soiled Clothes with Care

If you have to handle the dirty laundry of a person who might be sick or could have been exposed to the coronavirus (particularly if there are bodily fluids like blood or urine on the clothes)- then you should first care to use disposable gloves. These should be thrown away after every use, as per the instructions of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. You might be tempted to use reusable gloves, but you have to take extra care if you use them to handle infected or exposed surfaces. After use, you should keep these gloves separately in a bag and must take care to wash your hands for a minimum of 20 seconds in soap and water.

Other Points to Note –

  • When transferring laundry from one place to another, take care not to shake it.
  • Whenever possible, launder the clothing in the maximum possible temperature and then dry them completely.
  • If you have to go to the Laundromat, then practice strict social distancing and avoid touching your face or mouth while you are out in public.
  • It is also recommended that you use detergents that contain bleach compounds.

Commonly Asked Questions

What Should I Do with The Clothes Worn In Public?

The clothes and shoes that you wear in public must be taken off after you enter your home. If your family is around, you should avoid touching anyone until you’ve changed into a fresh pair. If your job requires you to interact with a lot of people, then you should take care to change clothes as often as you can.

What Do I Do If I Don’t Have A Washing Machine?

You might not have a washing machine, which makes going to a laundry unavoidable. When you are out with people, make sure that you maintain 6 feet distance and practice all rules of social distancing.

How Do I Do the Laundry of Someone Who Is Sick?

The best advice, when washing clothes of someone sick is that you use a detergent that has a bleach compound. Whenever you are transferring laundry from one place to another, try not to shake it as much as you can to avoid contaminating other surfaces.

Related Blogs

Role of Ayurveda In COVID 19 Pandemic

Role of Ayurveda In COVID 19 Pandemic

To curb the menace caused by Coronavirus pandemic, the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy (aka AYUSH), recommended...

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