Do we need to wash things differently during the COVID-19 pandemic? Well…yes and no.
The short answer is no. As long as no one in your household is sick, you can pretty much carry on doing your usual laundry thing. However, there are some laundry tips and tricks that will help to limit the spread of germs (and your exposure to them). These habits will also prove useful once we get past this current coronavirus phase.
Should you wash your clothes after going out? There have been no specific guidelines from the CDC on this one, so It’s really your call. But I like to err on the side of caution here. I’m mostly staying home, but if I do venture out to run an essential errand, I wear the same coat (I leave it hanging in the Mudroom) and change my clothes when I get home.
Don’t just “Febreze it.” CLEAN IT! Those TV commercials where the Mom walks into her son’s smelly room and just squirts a bit of cheap fragrance around make me crazy. If something smells bad, it's because there are bacteria present, and it needs to be dealt with. Covering up bad smells with a cheap fragrance is not the answer. It's totally gross! How did this even become a thing?
I use Garment Groom on everything from coats and hats to the bottom of my bag as soon as I get home. A daily spritz on the sofa’s not a bad idea either. It actually cleans surfaces instead of just masking odor.
Do I need to use hot water and bleach the bejeezus out of everything? Again, this is up to you. I’m not totally anti-bleach, but I never use it to “clean” things! In the laundry, I try to use cold water for almost everything (including bedding). If someone is sick, I do crank up that heat to kill off any potential cooties lurking there. As of now, there's no evidence to suggest that the COVID-19 virus can survive on clothing or fabric. Stainless Steel, on the other hand…
Don’t shake it out. It’s very tempting to shake and fluff out dirty laundry to make sure there’s no hidden socks or undies down the trouser legs. Try to resist. If any harmful bacteria are clinging onto them, the last thing you want to do is send them flying across the room to land on everything else. By all means, check the pockets and turn clothes inside out if you feel so inclined. That’s actually a great way to protect your garments during the wash cycle, by the way. And don’t forget to wash your hands after touching every dirty laundry load.
Don’t leave wet laundry sitting in the machine. It’s the Laundry equivalent of a damp sponge in the sink. Total bacteria farm! Set a timer, and once your wash cycle is over, get it outta there to dry with a quickness! If you want to scent your laundry, now’s the right time to do it. Dab some of your favorite laundry fragrance on a few wool dryer balls and chuck them into your dryer on low/no heat for a few minutes. Ten should do it. When you take your clothes out they will be clean and fill the whole room with delicious scent.
Wash the machine. It’s not a bad idea to give your washing machine an occasional hot water cycle with no clothes to keep it clean. I use Everything Soap and add a splash of vinegar once a month to keep the machine clean.
Yes, you can still use the machine in your building or the Laundromat. Just make sure you separate your laundry at home and place everything into washable bags. Wear gloves, practice social distancing while you're there, and give the machine dials and handles a quick spritz with surface cleaner before using them. It's the civil thing to do!
If you still feel uncomfortable using a public laundry, you can always hand wash your laundry at home. It's safer for your clothes, your health and your wallet.
Stay safe, stay well, and stay home!