With the lockdown getting lifted, offices and workplaces are slowly reopening. You may be happy going back to office, resuming your original routine but you may also be concerned about bringing back germs and infections home. Do not worry. You simply need to know necessary hygiene precautions to take while at work and how to clean and sanitize items that went with you out of home such as the clothes you wore to work, your bags, shoes, keys, phone, wallet, tiffin bag, etc. Let us begin with tips on how to sanitize office wear the right way.
Why do you need to sanitize your workwear in the first place? You may be aware that germs can travel up to several feet after a sneeze or cough and come to rest on nearby surfaces, clothes, etc. They can also be passed by touch. If an unwell colleague or fellow commuter sneezes or coughs into their hand and then touches your shirt or if you sit on a seat someone coughed on, then germs may pass onto your clothes. To keep these germs and infections away from your family at home, know how to sanitise your clothes and laundry effectively.
To protect your office clothes and accessories from attracting and harbouring germs, first try to minimise the risk of coming into contact with someone who is ill. Stay at least 6 feet away from everyone at work and while travelling, even if they aren’t showing any symptoms. If you cannot do that, wash and sanitise your office wear daily.
In your daily laundry disinfection, also include clothing accessories you use while commuting or at work such as scarf, stole, jacket, face napkin, cloth face mask.
Here are some simple tips to clean your work clothes:
1) How to Wash Office Wear
If you work in a normal office or non-risk place, simply wash your work clothes in the regular wash cycle with a good detergent. You can use a detergent like Surf Excel Matic Liquid, which is specially formulated for washing machines. Being a liquid, it dissolves completely in water and washes away without leaving any residue (unlike powders).
If you work at a high risk place such as hospitals, clinics, police force, path labs and similar others, it is recommended that you wash your high-risk workwear in hot water for better hygiene, after rinsing off any stains with cool water first. High-risk clothes are those that have either come into contact with someone who may have an infection or those that are soiled (with blood, urine, faeces, vomit, etc.).
It is a good idea to separate these items from your regular wash loads. You may also sanitise them post-wash with a laundry sanitiser such as Lifebuoy Laundry Sanitizer. Follow pack usage instructions for soaking, and do not mix with detergent.
If you are using a washing machine, then especially for high-risk clothes, choose the longest wash setting with an extra rinse. To ensure a proper deep-clean, don’t overload the machine. Give clothes enough room to move around.
2) How to Dry Work Wear
Ensure that work clothes are not even slightly damp before you fold them. Dampness may shelter germs. Allow the clothes to dry thoroughly in sunlight. If drying indoors is the only option, follow these tips:
Hang clothes on a drying rack in direct sunlight
Maximise ventilation with open windows
Hang clothes on coat hangers to speed up drying
Avoid exposure to mould spores by drying clothes in areas of your home you spend less time in; avoid bedrooms and the living room if possible.
If you have a tumble drier, it is recommended you use the longest drying cycle to ensure your laundry is thoroughly dry.
3) Wash Your Work Clothes Daily to Keep Them Hygienically Clean
If you think there’s a good chance you’ve come into contact with an ill person (for example because you’ve been in a crowded area such as office canteen or while travelling in public transport), or if you’re in a high-risk setting such as a hospital, it’s a good idea to wash your clothes as soon as you get home. Don’t leave them in the laundry basket as any germs could spread. In general, clothes worn outside should not be repeated without washing.
4) How to Clean Your Washing Machine
If you use a washing machine to wash your office wear and accessories, remember to clean that as well. Because if the washing machine is dirty, or harbours germs, it may transfer them to your clothes during use. Don’t forget to leave the machine lid open for at least half an hour after every use, for ventilation.
Remember to wash your hands before as well as after doing your laundry. Also avoid shaking your laundry before you wash it. You don’t want to breathe in any germs that get dislodged from the clothes. Hold the laundry away from your body while taking it for the wash. Wash your hands straight after.
Following these simple steps will help ensure that your daily work clothes are clean and sanitised, and your family safe from germs.
Wear disposable gloves if you’re handling the clothes of a frontline health worker. Discard the gloves straight afterwards and wash your hands thoroughly. You can wash them with soap or an alcohol-based sanitiser, such as those available from Lifebuoy.