With all the talk about the coronavirus pandemic, what’s the official word about washing clothes and best laundry practices to reduce infection risk? While we can’t help you find a store that sells toilet paper, we’ve rounded up some official advice on how to treat clothes that may have been exposed to Novel Coronavirus.
It is important to understand and communicate the safety of fully drying linen in commercial dryers that will achieve thermal sterilisation as per the Australian standard. (71 Deg C for 3 minutes). High heat setting on large tumbler dryers will achieve this provided the linen tag laundry recommendations allow it. So laundromats also provide a valuable and much needed service during this time.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gives the following recommendations on Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection for clothing, towels, linens and other items from people suspected or confirmed with Coronavirus:
Wear disposable gloves when handling dirty laundry from an ill person and then discard after each use. If using reusable gloves, those gloves should be dedicated for cleaning and disinfection of surfaces for COVID-19 and should not be used for other household purposes. Clean hands immediately after gloves are removed.
If no gloves are used when handling dirty laundry, be sure to wash hands afterwards.
If possible, do not shake dirty laundry. This will minimize the possibility of dispersing virus through the air.
Launder items as appropriate in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely. Dirty laundry from an ill person can be washed with other people’s items.
Clean and disinfect clothes hampers according to guidance above for surfaces. If possible, consider placing a bag liner that is either disposable (can be thrown away) or can be laundered.
You’ve probably been in a household when someone has unfortunately had a vomiting virus. If so – you will very likely have washed and dried the sick persons laundry according to the above advice.
Advice for healthcare workers of Covid-19 patients
The World Health Organisation’s advice for healthcare workers of Covid-19 patients advises a higher degree of caution, with heavy gloves, eye protection and minimal exposed skin. Their website advises:
All individuals dealing with soiled bedding, towels and clothes from patients with COVID-19 should:
1. Wear appropriate personal protective equipment, which includes heavy duty gloves, mask, eye protection (face shield/goggles), long-sleeved gown, apron (if gown is not fluid resistant), boots or closed shoes before touching any soiled linen.
2. Never carry soiled linen against body; place soiled linen in a clearly labelled, leak-proof container (e.g. bag, bucket)
3. If there is any solid excrement on the linen, such as feces or vomit, scrape it off carefully with a flat, firm object and put it in the commode or designated toilet/latrine before putting linen in the designated container. If the latrine is not in the same room as the patient, place soiled excrement in covered bucket to dispose of in the toilet or latrine;
4. Wash and disinfect linen: washing by machine with warm water (60-90°C) and laundry detergent is recommended for cleaning and disinfection of linens. If machine washing is not possible, linen can be soaked in hot water and soap in a large drum, using a stick to stir, avoiding splashing. If hot water not available, soak linen in 0.05% chlorine for approximately 30 minutes. Finally, rinse with clean water and let linen dry fully in the sunlight.
With Speed Queens on premise washers and dryers, healthcare professionals have advanced control of temperatures, cycle times and chemical inputs – to a far higher degree than it seems is needed for Coronavirus.
Advice for professional launderers
An excellent article in laundryandcleaningnews.com gives detailed information on wash temperatures and practical measures you can take to ensure you are dealing with laundry properly. Richard Neale points out that:
It is advised that the new corona virus can be effectively removed from surfaces by wiping with an EPA-approved disinfectant such as sodium hypochlorite at a concentration of 950ppm or 0.1%. This is much stronger than the bleach rinse in the UK Department of Health advice to launderers, which calls for a rinse concentration of 150ppm sodium hypochlorite.
Want to know more about how Speed Queen machines can help?