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How to clean clothes, gloves and coronavirus masks (Hint: Avoid the microwave)

One thing has become evident during the COVID-19 pandemic: People are desperately searching for information. Whether it’s about symptoms, where to buy essentials or how to protect oneself from contracting the virus, knowledge is in high demand.

Unfortunately, because this is an unprecedented situation, a lot of the information spreading online is untested, evolving or just plain wrong. What is accepted as fact one day is disregarded as baloney the next. Tap or click for some wacky 5G coronavirus conspiracy theories spreading across the web.

One thing with many versions of the truth is how to disinfect packages, groceries and clothing. Here’s how we recommend you sanitize all your packages and deliveries, and now we’ll dive into proper disinfecting for clothing, gloves and masks. Here’s what you need to know.

What’s the difference between cleaning and disinfecting?

First, let’s get on the same page. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines cleaning as “the removal of germs, dirt and impurities from surfaces.” Cleaning doesn’t, by this definition, kill germs — but by removing them, it lowers the number of germs and the risk of spreading infection.

VIDEO: Tap or click to discover three proven coronavirus prevention tips.

Disinfecting “refers to using chemicals, for example, EPA-registered disinfectants, to kill germs on surfaces.” Killing germs on a surface after cleaning can lower the risk of spreading infection even more.

When it comes to your belongings and coronavirus germs, we’re aiming for a combination of thorough cleaning and disinfecting. How does that work when it comes to fabrics?

The proper way to clean and disinfect clothes

Turn to social media or do a quick search and you might think a microwave is the ideal way to disinfect items like a face mask. Not so fast.

The truth is, certain materials can catch fire in microwaves — causing the end of your microwave or even your kitchen. This is especially true if you use a fabric mask supported with pieces of metal. Metal and microwaves don’t mix.

To prevent you from burning down the house, we turned to the experts. We found washing and drying fabric items, including reusable (washable) gloves and masks, is sufficient for removing viruses.

If you have someone infected with coronavirus in your household, you need to follow these steps:

  • Wear disposable gloves when handling that person’s dirty laundry. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with hot, soapy water after removing your gloves.
  • If you don’t have or otherwise don’t wear protective gloves when touching the dirty laundry, hand washing is even more important.
  • Avoid shaking dirty laundry to help minimize the chances of dispersing the virus through the air.
  • You can wash dirty laundry from an ill household member with other people’s items.
  • Launder items following the manufacturer’s instructions, using the warmest appropriate water setting when possible.
  • Dry items completely.
  • Clean and disinfect your laundry basket or hamper according to the CDC’s instructions for hard (non-porous) surfaces. If you can, use a disposable or washable liner in your hamper.

Note: If you’re using reusable gloves, do not wear them for any household purpose other than cleaning and disinfecting surfaces for COVID-19.

Now, the above precautions are vital if you have someone sick in your household. But what if you’re just worried about the germs you could pick up at the grocery store or running another essential errand? Use these same ideas to mitigate the risk.

  • Wash your clothes, masks, reusable gloves and any other fabric items using the hottest water setting you can. If you have a sanitize cycle, use it.
  • Wash items you wore or used outside your house separately from the rest of your laundry. This includes fabric grocery totes.
  • Dry your laundry thoroughly. If you have clothing you prefer not to put in the dryer, leave it in the closet for now and stick with fabric that can take the high heat of the dryer.
  • Wipe down your laundry basket or hamper regularly with disinfecting wipes or paper towels moistened with 70% isopropyl alcohol, especially after you’ve been out.

Refresher: How to disinfect packages and groceries

A week before news that Amazon warehouses had workers infected with the coronavirus, we warned you not to grab your packages from the porch and dive right in. Times have changed and our habits need to change, too.

Here’s our recommendation. For more details, tap or click here.

  1. Keep deliveries outside of your home for at least 24 hours. After you get a delivery, put on a pair of latex gloves (if you have them) and move your package to a secure spot outside. Throw away the gloves and wash your hands thoroughly.
  2. After a day, put on a fresh pair of gloves and wipe down the box or bag.
  3. Give the items in your box a wipedown, too. Throw out all the packaging, gloves and whatever you used to disinfect, then wash your hands again.

That covers non-perishables, but what about ordering food from a local restaurant? Tap or click here for our recommendations.

You need to be careful getting groceries delivered, too. Tap or click here for the right steps to take.

The key here? You have no idea who has touched your deliveries or the items inside. Err on the side of caution.

A little extra work, like washing your hands more and proper disinfecting protocol, can help keep you and your loved ones healthy. Take care and stay safe.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, advice, or health objectives.

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