With many of us extra cautious about germs these days, tackling your wash may have benefits beyond the heavenly smell of fresh-from-the-dryer clothes. Laundry may help prevent the spread and cycle of illness that can often run rampant in homes with the cold and flu virus, plus COVID-19.
We all know how it starts. One person comes home with the sniffles, and it isn’t long before the rest of the household is sick with an awful cold, too. It’s hard to think about laundry in the misery of coughing and sneezing, but if you can manage to throw in a load of clothing, it’s a win towards keeping illness at bay.
Germs can collect in towels and bed sheets or other items of clothing, holding potential for causing infection or other health issues. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) adds that bacteria like MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) may spread on sheets, towels and clothing — and can even enter your wash cycle, especially from someone who has been sick.
If someone is ill, sheets, duvets and pillowcases should be washed immediately, as germs can spread or even enter the washing machine.
In addition, the CDC says to wash and dry in the warmest temperatures recommended on the clothing label. The agency points out that hot water washing is not necessary to remove MRSA from laundry, but to properly follow the clothing and detergent instructions.
With the COVID-19 virus, the CDC recommends to avoid shaking dirty laundry to avoid any possibility of dispersing the virus through the air. A few other tips:
- Wear disposable gloves when handling laundry from someone who is sick
- Clean and disinfect clothes hampers, with soap and water (or in the laundry, if possible)
- Wash hands with soap and water after handling the dirty laundry
For all other routine laundry, some items can go a lot longer without a wash then you might expect, while others should be washed more often.
The American Cleaning Institute (ACI) offers tips to help determine how often is best to wash common items, to help keep those germs at bay.