With the spread of COVID19 epidemic and subsequent lockdown, many have widespread doubts about the treatment of the clothes worn by family members under home quarantine or who venture out either for work or to buy emergency medical supplies and grocery. Especially as many are using handkerchiefs due to scarcity of face masks.
How do I sanitize these?
Similar to known viral infection it is important to prevent the spread of COVID19 to other healthy members in the household.
Here is what you can do.
1 . Identify a place near the door where you can empty the bag, and other articles within it. Once you return home empty the cloth bag and its contents, place them out of reach of family members until they are disinfected, especially as the disintegration time of the virus on various substrates is unclear. Use of 0.5% Sodium hypochlorite (equivalent to 5000 ppm) for disinfection of frequently touched surfaces is advised. It is the chief component of most laundry bleaches.
- Disinfecting your laundry can be done easily and inexpensively at home, unless differently advised by a medical practitioner for an infected COVID19 patient. Use of regular detergent and water at 90o C followed by a complete drying of the laundry is adviced1. Soap and detergents contain amphiphiles or substances that are partly hydrophilic and partly hydrophonic by nature. These compete with the lipids in the virus membrane, thus not only loosening the glue between the virus and skin but also inhibiting the action of protein, lipids within the virus.
3. Infection due to handling of laundry is not unheard of, wear disposable rubber gloves especially to treat laundry of quarantined individuals, handkerchiefs used as masks and clothes used for travelling etc. Carry dirty laundry in a leakproof bag or container, keep it far from the body or garments worn by you. Clean your laundry hamper with a disinfectant after every use.
- Do not use the same machine wash cycle for soiled articles and clothes of healthy family members. If machine wash is not possible soak clothes in hot soapy water for 30 minutes, and stir with a stick, avoid splashing of water. An alternative is to use 0.05% chlorine for approximately 30 minutes. (This may lead to skin irritation of some people or discoloration of coloured fabric). Rinse thoroughly multiple times followed by complete drying preferably in sunlight2.
- It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other corona viruses, it may persists on surfaces for a few hours to a several days3. So use dedicated clothes and household linen (Bedsheets, pillow covers, doormats and Towels) for patients.
Note: Details compiled in the article are based on methods of fighting Virus infections such as MERS-Cov4 and SARS5. Keep yourself updated about ongoing clinical trials which may change the process of tackling your laundry.
[Article By Dr. Armaiti Shukla- Head of Department: Textiles and Apparel Designing,]