6 Tips to Get the Coronavirus out of Your Clothes

a woman does laundry in a mask
Alessandro Pintus / Shutterstock.com

The novel coronavirus respects few boundaries. When you drive, everything from your car’s interior to the pump at the gas station poses risks.

The virus that causes the disease COVID-19 also can contaminate your home’s interior — and even your clothes.

Although it’s easy to overlook this, your clothes can pick up the coronavirus and potentially spread it.

That is especially true in certain situations, as Consumer Reports notes:

“Laundering clothes and linens safely is particularly important if you’re living with someone who has a suspected or confirmed case of the new coronavirus, someone with a compromised immune system, or someone who works in a hospital or another place where there may be exposure to the virus.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends taking the following precautions with laundry at this time.

  • Wear disposable gloves if you are handling the clothes of someone infected with the virus.
  • While that laundry is dirty, do not shake it — which can spread the germs into the air.
  • As soon as all contaminated clothes are in the washing machine, remove your gloves. Then, wash your hands right way — and do so thoroughly. We offer tips in “Beware These 7 Hand-Washing Mistakes.”
  • It’s fine to wash potentially contaminated clothes with other laundry, but it is best to wash anything contaminated at the warmest appropriate water setting.
  • Dry clothes thoroughly after washing them.
  • Disinfect your clothes hamper regularly as long as COVID-19 continues to circulate.

If you want to be extra cautious, you could change clothes every time you have been out in an environment where you may have been exposed to the virus. Dr. Koushik Kasanagottu, an internal medicine resident at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, told Consumer Reports:

“As a healthcare worker myself, I change clothes immediately after coming home and sequester them with other exposed clothes.”

Also, remember that your mask itself needs to be washed regularly. We explain how in “Wearing a Mask? Make Sure to Wash It This Way.”

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