The pandemic has taught us a lot about hygiene. We have learned how to wash our hands properly, clean, and sanitize our homes, and do our laundry safely to disinfect against COVID-19.
Good old-fashioned soap and water, or an approved sanitizer, seem to be effective in killing the virus on most surfaces. When washing clothes, however, experts recommend following specific guidelines to inactivate the virus such as using the hottest water possible for the material and giving your clothes extra time and heat in the dryer.
According to HuffPost, dry cleaning can also snuff out the virus, but it is not the solvent used in actually cleaning the item that does the job, it is the ironing, steaming, and pressing afterward that works.
“The high level of heat used in pressing and ironing during the dry cleaning process is pretty reliable,” said Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease expert at the University of California-San Francisco. “The virus hates heat.”
Heat is highly effective in disinfecting objects from the coronavirus. That is what researchers have discovered both here in the U.S. and abroad. Experiments done in China on the coronavirus SARS-CoV, which is similar to the SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19, found coronavirus was completely deactivated — essentially sterilized — within 30 minutes when heated to 167 degrees Fahrenheit.
According to ConsumerLab.com, it took 60 minutes at 153 degrees and 90 minutes at 132 degrees to deactivate the virus. At 99 degrees or lower, the virus remained quite infectious for two hours, Dr. Tod Cooperman, president of ConsumerLab.com and a nationally recognized researcher, told Newsmax.
So, if your water is hot enough, washing your laundry is fine, said Melissa J. Perry, a leading public health researcher at George Washington University, according to HuffPost.
“There isn’t evidence that dry cleaning is more or less effective at killing the coronavirus compared to in the washing machine,” she said.
Experts added, using bleach when appropriate can also help disinfect garments. And if someone in your household is ill, take extra precautions such as wearing gloves when you do their laundry or linen.
Dr. Chin-Hong said if someone has COVID-19, it is important to have their clothes dry cleaned promptly and more frequently. The same advice goes for garments worn by healthcare workers and those returning from vacations or travels. He said viruses can live up to one or two days on fabrics compared to five to seven days on hard surfaces.
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