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Laundry Guidance for COVID-19

Hannah Forbes, Head of Brand and Content Managment

By Hannah Forbes | First published: 18th May 2020

Clean towels


In the absence of the necessary research at this time, you may be wondering what is considered to be an efficient laundry process for tackling COVID-19. The accepted advice is currently based on what has been proven to work with other members of the Coronavirus family.

We know that the virus can live on clothes and fabric, and it is understood that it can survive there for hours or maybe even days. As such, it is all the more essential to practice efficient segregation of dirty and clean laundry. With some people now heading back to work and some restrictions very slowly lifting, it is really important to practice efficient hygiene within the home. It is advisable to wash your clothes upon returning from work (especially if you work in a care environment or travel on public transport.) Consequently, people are using their laundry equipment more than they would normally.

As with other Coronaviruses, the expectation is that Covid-19 would be easily destroyed at elevated temperatures. Based on previous studies of the related SARS virus, it is widely expected that people should be washing their clothes at the highest possible temperature for the both fabric and the washing machine. Ideally, within the home, that would be a 60 degree wash but some fabric would obviously not withstand that. Additional thermal disinfection can be achieved by using a tumble dryer, and it is understood that drying in sunlight also disinfects fabrics. Unfortunately, washing at higher temperatures does increase the machines energy consumption and running costs. However, our newer laundry models are far more cost and energy efficient to run.

Chemical disinfection will also play its part in killing the virus and some recommendations include using a bleach wash for white or light colours, as appropriate. It is not essential however, and you can use your normal detergent but make sure that items are properly dried after washing as wet items are more likely to transfer viruses than dry ones. Importantly, we would remind our customers that whichever detergent you use, the amount that is required is a fairly exact science. Too much will not deliver the required clean and too much can leave residue on your clothes or cause blockages or build-up that can put the washing machine out of commission. Whilst we understand the temptation to use more than normal for greater hygiene assurance, we would advise that you always adhere to the recommended amounts of detergent.

Dirty laundry should ideally only be handled whilst wearing disposable gloves which are then thrown away immediately after loading the machine. In order to minimise the chances of dispersing the virus through the air, it is also advised that laundry should not be shaken. If you use a laundry basket for transporting items to the machine this will also need to be disinfected after loading the machine.

Essentially, the combination of detergent, warm water and the physical agitation of the rinse and spin cycles should rid all fabrics of the virus but you will need to ensure that you are taking extra hygiene precautions whilst washing your clothes. If you have any questions regarding your laundry equipment, our teams are available to advise and we are still delivering and servicing all essential items, with increased hygiene procedures in place.