COVID 19 has changed many of the daily routines in everyone’s lives, even for things as mundane as doing the laundry. Hence, it’s worth reviewing and enhancing the steps for washing and laundering of clothes and linens, along with disinfecting objects and surfaces, to minimize the chances of contracting the coronavirus and getting sick.
A lot of unknowns surround this novel coronavirus but it’s a fact that the spread of COVID-19 is through droplet infection, which is when a sick person coughs or sneezes. Recent developments now advise or enforce the use of masks for everyone, healthy or infected, to prevent contagion through droplets.
Even while on social distancing, it’s best to wash and disinfect things or surfaces that are frequently held or touched, such as handles, doorknobs, countertops, tables, light switches, remotes, keyboards, mouse, etc. in case they are a source of COVID-19. Several trusted sources give guidelines on disinfecting.
As for your clothes, bags and shoes, beddings, towels, and other things that need washing, here are general laundry guidelines to follow to protect your household from the COVID 19 infection.
1. Avoid shaking the items before washing as this can spread bacteria and viruses in the air.
2. Use a high-temperature setting between 140-194F (60-90C.) If you suspect possible contamination, go for the higher temperature.
3. You can also put in laundry sanitizer additives. Ideally, you should already have them on hand as stores are running out of stock on these items and online deliveries may not be available at this time.
4. A popular and effective disinfectant is household bleach. But keep in mind that it can ruin colors and weaken the fabric. Read directions carefully if you use it.
Studies on COVID-19 show that it can live on different surfaces, including fabric, for hours to days. If you must go out, for work or groceries, take your shoes off before entering your house and take a shower immediately. Put the clothes you wore outside in a disposable liner; you may wash them separately or together with other dirty clothes.
Shoes and bags are surfaces, too, and although they are far from the face, it’s a good practice to clean them before they enter your house to remove respiratory droplets that may have landed on them. Spray alcohol on your rubber shoes and sneakers but be careful with leather shoes and bags as disinfectants might ruin their finish.
Here are more laundry guidelines at this time of COVID-19:
Bath and hand towels
Bath towels are made of thick fabric. Bacteria, dirt and maybe even the COVID-19 virus can embed in them. That’s why you should wash them after every three to four uses which, if you take a shower once a day, would be every three to four days. For your hand towels, change and wash them daily as you use them more often.
Kitchen towels have many purposes: for drying dishes, hands, fruits, and vegetables; wiping spills; cleaning tabletops; etc. It’s separate towels for each use. You should also change and wash them daily unless you seldom use your kitchen. Then once every two days will do.
Beddings have different uses and thickness. For the linens that come in contact with your body every night, wash them once a week, unless you have a spill, stain or dirt on it. These include bed sheets, blankets, and pillowcases.
Duvets and comforters are thicker and are for covering the bed when you’re not on it, so you can wash them less frequently, like every three months or so.
Toys come in many forms and materials and can carry the COVID-19 virus. That’s why you must make sure they are always clean. Toys that don’t have a battery and are made of plastic, rubber, and silicone are the easiest to clean. There are also plush toys and electronic toys. The frequency of washing depends on how often your kids play with them.
How to wash different types of toys:
For babies who are in that stage where they put everything in their mouths, clean their toys daily. Soak them in water with dishwashing soap for a few minutes, then rinse with water. Disinfect them by wiping with alcohol, hydrogen peroxide or household bleach and let them stand according to the product’s instructions. This would be anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes. Then rinse thoroughly again with clean water and let them air dry before giving them back to your kids.
For plush toys, hand-wash them if there are no music boxes, sequins, and other small items. If they are only dusty, vacuum the dust off with the brush wrapped in an old pantyhose stocking.
For electronic toys, use a disinfectant wipe or a wet cloth wrung tightly to clean the surfaces, then let air dry. If using a disinfecting wipe, rinse with a cloth dipped in water and squeezed to avoid any drop getting inside and damaging the toy.
Remove crumbs, hair, dirt and other debris from your sofa and couch with a vacuum cleaner using the upholstery attachment. Clean once a week with a damp cloth and spray sanitizer on the surfaces, including nooks and crevices.
COVID-19 has dealt us a cruel hand. But one thing to be learned from it is the importance of keeping our environment and personal stuff always clean. Making it a habit will keep everyone healthy and prevent bacteria- and virus-borne diseases from spreading.
Images source: Pixabay