With millions across the world having been infected by COVID-19, we need to be protecting ourselves as best as we can. As the lockdown starts easing, and activity returns to normal, this will become even more important. Apart from social distancing and handwashing, proper disinfecting is the one way we can control the spread of this virus.
While there’s been a lot of information about disinfecting surfaces, disinfecting our clothes is trickier. So in this article, we’ll tell you exactly how to disinfect your laundry, especially the clothes you wear outside.
Use laundry soap or household detergent to wash your clothes. But to disinfect, make sure you use a detergent that has bleach. For white clothes, if your detergent doesn’t contain bleach then use your regular detergent and add bleach separately. Of course, bleach tends to be harsh and might potentially ruin certain clothes. So make sure you read the guidelines on your labels, as well as on the detergent to make sure it’s the right fit. For colored and more delicate clothes, consider using bleach alternatives.
Soak your clothes in a solution of quaternary ammonium before you actually wash them. This will help you get rid of most of the germs.
The warmer the water, the more effective it will be at fighting the virus. When you’re washing white clothes, you can do it at a temperature of 140°F (or 60°C). When it comes to colored clothes, or clothes that are made of more delicate material, this temperature might be too high and may shrink or damage them. So with these clothes, it’s a good idea to take a look at the labels and then use the warmest temperature possible.
You need to dry the clothes completely. This means putting them in the dryer for at least 45 minutes. If they’re still damp, sun-dry them immediately till they’re completely dry. Any kind of moisture will just become a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria.
For colored clothes where you can’t use bleach while doing laundry, try these alternatives:
You can add half a cup of white vinegar to one load of laundry during the rinse cycle. It not only kills viruses and bacteria but also acts as a natural deodorizer and fabric softener.
For white clothes, add 1 cup of peroxide after the washer has filled but before the cycle begins. For colored clothes, add 1 cup of peroxide to the bleach dispenser once the water has filled. It might be best to test it out on colored clothes before adding it to the washing.
You can disinfect clothes by adding 1/2 cup of Borax to the washing cycle. Make sure you use hot water with Borax.
Add one cup of pine oil to the washer after it has filled with water. Note that you shouldn’t use pine oil for specialty fabrics. It’s also important to keep in mind that pine oil leaves a subtle smell.
Items like wool, silk, and other dry-clean-only clothes cannot be put in the washer. To disinfect these, you can use a 2:1 mixture of water and isopropyl alcohol. Spot clean the fabric with this mixture by spraying the mixture on a white cloth and then using it to wipe down the clothing. Best to test this out on a small area first, especially for rich colors. For wools and silks, you can hand wash and then sun-dry the clothes to remove germs. Steaming can also be used on certain items to help disinfect.
Wear gloves while doing laundry and wash hands immediately with warm water and soap once you’re done.
Use 0.1% sodium hypochlorite or any other environment-friendly household disinfectants for your laundry basket.
Try to disinfect your washing machine once in a while. You can do this by adding 2 cups of peroxide then run a cycle with very hot water. After this add 1.5 cups of baking soda and run another cycle. Finally, fill a spray bottle with vinegar and spray the lid and the rubber areas. Wipe down the machine and voila, you’re done.
With the virus going around, regular washing may not be nearly enough to protect ourselves. Use these relatively simple tips and make sure your clothes get completely disinfected every time you do a load of laundry.