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Your Laundry In The Time Of Covid-19

Dirt and viruses can get onto your clothing and potentially make you sick. Take every precaution to ensure you and your family stay healthy by washing your clothes after going out, particularly to high-risk places.

Updated

A collection of household cleaning equipment and clothing items

Handwashing with soap and water with Lifebuoy antibacterial soap is one of the key ways to keep germs at bay, but what happens to your clothes? Here are some top laundry tips to help you leave viruses behind when you come home.

Any surfaces such as clothing, linens, shoes and towels could be contaminated and therefore, should be washed and disinfected as part of your prevention routine. Research by Healthline suggests that while clothes are low risk for contracting viruses, they are not risk-free - so you should take the extra precaution with your clothing.

Can the coronavirus survive on your clothes?

The short answer is yes. However, it has not been established with any certainty how long the virus survives on surfaces. Studies of the behaviour of human coronaviruses found large variability in its survival time, ranging from 2 hours to 9 days.

The survival time depends on a number of factors including the type of surface, temperature, relative humidity and a specific strain of the virus.

Suffice to say, clothing can be a risk factor depending on the circumstances. So, for the sake of overall safety, it's a good idea to wash clothing after being out. This is especially if you have come into contact with an individual who is sick or has been into an area where there are high traffic and minimal sanitising such as grocery stores and retail shops.

Has your lifestyle during the Covid-19 lockdown affected the type of stains you get on your clothes?

How should you do your laundry?

  • Now that you know that your clothing can put you at risk of getting sick, what can you do about it?
  • For starters, all items should be washed with laundry soap or detergent. Consider using a detergent that contains bleach but be sure to read the clothing care labels and product description and guidelines.
  • Select the warmest water setting possible for your laundry. The WHO recommends water temperatures between 60–90°C. Take care when using high temperatures for your washing as it can damage certain clothing items, so ensure that you read the care labels beforehand.
  • Be sure to dry clothes thoroughly.

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Will ordinary detergents get rid of the virus?

Detergents such as washing powders like Surf Handwash Powder, bars like Sunlight Laundry Bars and liquids such as OMO Auto washing Liquid, work perfectly to fulfil the cleaning part of germ prevention. However, to attend holistically to germ prevention, the process of disinfecting also needs to be carried out. To disinfect, opt for cleaning agents that contain bleach or alcohol of around 70 per cent. According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), vinegar and other natural products are not recommended for this type of cleaning and disinfecting.

When using bleach for disinfecting, make sure you allow the product to work for 10-15 minutes, then rinse with clean water and follow the instructions as per the detergent bottle. If your clothing is not bleach-safe, there is the option of washing in hot water, ideally above 60 degrees to a maximum of 90 degrees Celsius as directed by the WHO. However, high temperatures can damage or shrink delicate clothing items, so remember to read the wash care labels before doing your laundry.

When it comes to choosing the right process and deciding how to wash clothes to help get rid of viruses, take into account that both washing and disinfecting are essential for a thorough clean.

Key points:

  • Frequently wash and disinfect your hands.
  • Wear a cloth mask over your nose and mouth when you go out in public.
  • Wash your clothes to help ward off viruses.
  • Clean your clothes with soap and water to remove dirt and debris.
  • Use a disinfectant such as heat, bleach or alcohol-based cleaners.

For more house cleaning tips, tricks and advice or simply to find the perfect detergent for the job, take a look around.

Originally published