BASICS: LAUNDRY AND CORONAVIRUS

Synthetic fabrics may be cheap, but they cannot be washed at such a high temperature as cotton. Buying natural fibres, which are ultimately biodegradable, in tougher fabrics, which can be washed at 60C, may be the way forward.

It is basic common sense to wash by type, rather than just by colour or fabric during the coronavirus pandemic.

Towels
Each person in a household should have their own towel(s) and face cloth especially if showing potential Covid-19 symptoms. Towels and face cloths should be washed more frequently and at 60C.

Tea towels
Ideally, these should be changed daily and washed at 60C as a load, to avoid the spread of bacteria, if in lockdown as a household.

Bedding
Should be changed weekly, (possibly more often if someone is ill) and washed at 60C

.Baby clothes
Baby clothes should be washed at 60C when possible.

Sports kit
Wash at 60C . It might be feasible to pre-soak the kit before washing, if 60C is too high a temperature for the fabrics. For white cotton t-shirts, stubborn underarm stains can be improved by letting the sun bleach and disinfect them after washing, in a sunny spot. Some people use white vinegar (5-20% acetic acid) or distilled malt vinegar (5-8% acetic acid) to treat sweaty areas of sports kit before washing. Just stick in a clean spray bottle, and use undiluted.

Uniforms
Many companies and public sector organisations require employees to launder their uniforms at home. These should be done at 60C.

If you are worrying about the cost, it’s the temperature and using the right amount of powder for your washing machine which makes the difference, not the length of the wash. Bunging in extra powder doesn’t help as it can gum up your washing machine, or cause it to froth out of the door. If you are having difficulty paying your utility bills please DO talk to the companies, and get help.

Most people who launder their uniforms themselves, don’t know that in many cases they can claim a tax allowance from HMRC Job Expenses Allowances

The University of Newcastle is tracking the corona virus in sewage BBC News – University of Newcastle as coronavirus was discovered in sewage in The Netherlands, before any cases of Covid-19 were reported. Deutsche Welle (in English)

This indicates that coronavirus can survive the human digestive system. There’s no evidence so far, that Covid-19 can be passed on by faecal matter, but the more coronavirus we kill, the less of it there is out there to potentially be picked up, in viable form.

CDC (Center for Disease Control) in USA advises: “If possible, do not shake dirty laundry. This will minimize the possibility of dispersing virus through the air”

Disinfecting the laundry hamper used to store and transport dirty laundry to the washing machine, after loading it, is a sensible precaution. The washing machine should be emptied as soon after the wash has finished, as possible, to avoid bacteria build-up.

The washing machine filter should be cleared out once a week or as specified by the manufacturer.

Washing machines, especially those normally used only for low temperature washes, can harbour bacteria. RB, makers of Lysol and Dettol products, recommend using a washing machine cleaner every two months. Dettol washing machine cleaner Other washing machine cleaners are available, for example Dr Beckmann Dr Beckmann washing machine cleaner which can be bought direct.

Dettol advises leaving the washing machine door and detergent drawer open after use, until both have air-dried.

Check the manufacturer’s recommendation for cleaning the rubber seal for a front-loader, as harsh chemicals could damage it.

The exterior of the washing machine, should be wiped over frequently with a surface wipe, preferably one which will kill viruses. Dettol told the Daily Express in March 2020, that Dettol could possibly kill corona virus. Dettol – Daily Express- March 2020

There are a lot of laundry liquids and powders out there. UK government has made no recommendations on washing powders or indeed laundry sanitisers. It doesn’t appear that the CDC has done so either.

BS EN 1275 is a British standard for killing bacteria and Dettol Antibacterial Laundry Cleaner (available in Fresh Cotton and Lavender fragrances plus sensitive version) meets this at 20C. For more information see Dettol laundry cleaner

The hotter the wash, the better the chance of killing bacteria and stray coronavirus, in case you or a member of your household, has asymptomatic Covid-19.

Now is the time, to read the product instructions for stain removers, prewash products, laundry sanitisers, fabric conditioners and indeed washing machines.

Unless you or a member of your household has a skin allergy, it might be prudent to swap to a biological laundry powder, rather than a liquid.

Laundry liquids don’t include bleach (which kills coronavirus) and biological powders contain more of it than non-biological powders.

Heat may kill coronavirus, so it could be prudent to tumble dry and then iron washing, using the correct setting for the fabric. Alternatively, washing can be hung out on an airer or washing line, to let the sunlight disinfect it, outdoors.

Before hanging clean clothes on an airer, do wipe it over. Indoor airers need drying to avoid any potential bleaching line. Outdoor airers can be left to dry. If you peg clothes on to an indoor airer, it makes it more difficult for pets and kids to knock them off. Also, if the sun comes out, it’s easier to plonk the airer on a balcony or in the garden.

Some balcony or radiator airers, are so adjustable, that they can be hung out of a window.

If you’re desperate for activities to do with kids, you could get them washing their own socks by hand with soap and pegging them up on an airer on a balcony or deck.