COVID-19 can enter the body and infect someone through the mouth, eyes or nostrils. This is why you need to wash your hands more often and avoid touching your face.
If you’re handling clothes of someone who has been experiencing coronavirus symptoms, make sure you don’t touch your face and be sure to wash your hands afterwards.
Also avoid shaking up any laundry too much, otherwise you could be spreading the virus through the air.
The current government coronavirus advice for people with confirmed or possible COVID-19 infection says:
- You can wash items just as the manufacturer’s instructions say, as you normally would.
- Dirty laundry that has been in contact with an ill person can also be washed with other people’s items.
You can keep up to date with our latest advice on the coronavirus outbreak over on our coronavirus advice hub.
The NHS lays out some exceptions that you may want to wash separately, at a higher temperature and with a bleach-based detergent – such as a biological powder for whites.
Wash these at 60°C with a powder detergent
Clothes which come into contact with a lot of bodily fluids, such as sportswear, will have a great number of germs on, so could pose a greater risk.
Also avoid wearing sportswear more than once between washes.
Shared towels in your home can harbour many germs, so could quickly spread coronavirus.
Wash shared towels often and at 60°C .
If there is someone who is self-isolating or at risk, make sure they use their own separate towel.
Baby clothes and reusable nappies
Any items that come into contact with vomit or faeces are a germ risk.
The most common of these will be baby clothes, which you’ll need to wash separately at 60°C to avoid spreading germs to your child.
If you’re looking for more specific advice, such as how to deal with clothes used in food preparation or healthcare workers’ clothes, the NHS website has some more advice.
Read more: Five ways to safely clean your mobile phone
Do antibacterial washing machine cleaners kill coronavirus?
Coronavirus doesn’t mean you have to worry unduly about cleaning your washing machine. Simply following the clothes washing advice above should be sufficient.
You can continue to clean your washing machine as you normally would to keep it running smoothly.
Dettol and Dr Beckmann washing machine cleaners both claim to kill 99.9% of bacteria. All washing machine cleaners should kill bacteria, though, thanks a variety of anti-bacterial ingredients, most commonly oxygen-based bleaching agents.
Don’t use regular household bleach to clean your washing machine, as this can damage and erode the rubber seals inside.
Read our washing machine cleaners compared guide to find out more.
What about if I need to go to the launderette?
If you don’t have the luxury of your own washing machine, the government warns that you need to wait a further 72 hours after your seven-day isolation period has ended before going to the launderette.
You might also want to follow this guidance if you normally use a shared washing machine in a block of flats, for example.