7 Coronavirus Laundry Tips You Need to Start Following

We asked the experts what you should be doing to clean clothes that may be carrying the virus.

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Coronavirus can live on your clothes, though it only lasts for hours compared to the days it can last on surfaces like plastic and cardboard. However, the virus only needs seconds to spread from your clothing to these other surfaces or to your body. That means that to keep safe, you should be careful handling and caring for your clothes. A simple wash with detergent can help sanitize your wardrobe and other textiles, but is it enough? We reached out to experts to bring you the essential coronavirus laundry tips you need to put in practice during the pandemic. And for more ways to clean safely right now, check out these 7 Disinfecting Mistakes You're Probably Making and Tips to Fix Them.

1
Don't shake out your clothes.

Young Woman loading washing machine and Basket Full Of Dirty Clothes In Laundry Room
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You may be tempted to give your clothes a good shake before putting them in the washer or to get rid of excess moisture before hanging them to dry, but Tonya Harris, environmental toxin expert and founder of Slightly Greener, cautions against this right now. She says that shaking out your clothes can release coronavirus into the air, and you certainly don't want that. For more cleaning advice, check out 18 Things You Should Sanitize Every Day But Aren't.

2
Steam items you don't want to put in the dryer.

man steaming clothes with an iron
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Heat can sanitize your clothes. However, some materials are far too delicate or prone to shrinking to throw in the dryer. Instead of avoiding wearing anything that you have to air-dry, you can try this tip that Minneapolis-based laundry expert Patric Richardson gave Apartment Therapy: Steam your delicates after you wash them. She told the site that steaming can sanitize just as well as your dryer, so you can forgo a possibly disastrous cycle. Don't have a steamer? An iron works, too—just spray water on your garment and set your iron to either the cotton or lining setting. And for more ways to stay safe and clean, check out this Deep Cleaning Checklist That Will Leave Your Home Gleaming.

3
Don't overdo it on the detergent.

pouring laundry detergent in a cup
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It's reasonable to assume that more detergent means greater assurance that your clothes will be rid of the virus. But, that's not the case. David Moreno and Benjamin Joseph, founders of Liberty Home Guard, say that a normal amount of detergent will do the job. Also, overusing detergent can have adverse results, like leaving harsh residue on your clothes, or—even worse—causing buildup and blockages that can put your washing machine out of commission.

4
Set up a laundry basket at the entrance of your home.

laundry basket with dark background
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If you have been outside, you could easily be bringing the virus into your home on your clothes. To help prevent your worn clothes from contaminating other things in your house, Abe Navas, general manager of Texas-based cleaning service Emily Maid's, recommends setting up a laundry basket near your most-used entrance so you can shed them immediately. And for more tips on keeping your sanctuary clean, check out What to Do After You Go Outside During the Coronavirus Pandemic.

5
Use the warmest possible setting on your washing machine.

woman setting the washing machine with controls
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Heat kills viruses, which is why you should be laundering your clothes and bedding in the hottest water possible. Speaking to Apartment Therapy, Steve Hettinger, director of engineering in clothes care for GE Appliances, advised utilizing the sanitizing cycle on your washing machine, if you have it. This is a washing cycle on the longer side that heats up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or even hotter. For more info on eradicating bacteria and viruses, check out Is It Safe to Sanitize Your Phone? Here's What You Can't Disinfect.

6
Take extra care in separating your colors.

man washing his blue laundry
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If you consider yourself to be pretty lax when it comes to separating colors in your laundry, try to be a little more careful right now for the sake of your wardrobe. As Harris explains, disinfecting hot water cycles can cause colors to bleed, and you don't want to ruin a whole load of clothes. Also, if you want to use bleach for extra sanitizing power, you should only use it on white or light-colored materials. You certainly don't want to end up with white splotches on anything saturated.

7
Wear gloves.

closeup of a young man, wearing latex gloves, putting white bed linen into the washing machine
iStock

It's impossible to know whether or not your clothes are carrying the virus, so the safest bet is just to assume that they are. That's why the CDC recommends that you wear disposable gloves while dealing with dirty clothes, especially if you're handling the laundry of someone who you know or suspect is sick. Throw the gloves away when you're finished, and definitely don't wear them to go about any other household chores—put on a fresh pair. And whatever housework you're doing, wash your hands with soap and water after you're done. For more expert-backed tips, check out The Best Way to Wash Your Hands to Prevent Getting Sick.

Best Life is constantly monitoring the latest news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed. Here are the answers to your most burning questions, the ways you can stay safe and healthy, the facts you need to know, the risks you should avoid, the myths you need to ignore,and the symptoms to be aware of. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.
Kali Coleman
Kali is an assistant editor at Best Life. Read more
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