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How cleaning your laundry can help contain COVID-19

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How cleaning your laundry can help contain COVID-19? Washpro Laundry Pickup Service takes every necessary precaution to ensure your laundry is sanitized and disinfected to the maximum possible extent.

Written by Mark Brezinski

Source: Reviewed.com

Updated March 11, 2020

As the number of COVID-19 infections worldwide continues to rise, it’s important for us all to do our part in limiting its spread. The best way to do that is simply by frequently and thoroughly washing your hands. But what about your clothes?

According to the CDC, coronaviruses like COVID-19 can survive on surfaces anywhere from a few hours to a few days. While it’s more likely to catch COVID-19 from hard surfaces that are frequently touched, like door knobs or railings, there is still a chance it can be transmitted via your clothes.

Coronavirus COVID-19 Doing laundry

Credit: Yana Tikhonova
Washing your laundry can help clean away COVID-19, preventing it from infecting you or others.

The facts about viruses living on clothing

While research is still being done, we do know COVID-19 is mainly being spread via droplets emitted during coughing or sneezing. As such, the most effective precautionary measures are to:

  • Stay two meters away from anyone who’s coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

It’s currently not known how well this specific strain of coronavirus can survive by clinging to materials such as cloth. If it’s similar to past strains of the virus, it could survive anywhere from about two hours to a few days.

What we do know is that soft surfaces, like your clothes, are likely to be worse incubators for COVID-19 than hard, frequently-touched surfaces, like door knobs and countertops. When dealing with hard surfaces, a simple disinfectant should suffice-the EPA has posted a list of cleaners that should be effective at sanitizing surfaces after exposure to COVID-19.

Coronavirus COVID-19 handwashing

Credit: Nattakorn Maneerat
Thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is the best way to stave off spreading or contracting COVID-19.

Should you change the way you do laundry?

While the CDC doesn’t specifically outline any changes to your typical laundry routine, they do provide a list of best practices when doing laundry for someone who’s ill:

  • Ideally, wear disposable gloves and discard them after each use. When using reusable gloves, only use those gloves for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces infected with COVID-19—do not use them for any other household purpose. Wash your hands immediately after using the gloves.
  • If you aren’t using gloves when handling dirty laundry, be sure to thoroughly wash your hands afterwards.
  • Try to not shake the dirty laundry. Shaking the laundry carries a possibility of dispersing the virus through the air.
  • If possible, use the warmest water setting on your washer and ensure items are dried completely afterwards.
  • Dirty laundry from an ill person can be washed with other people’s items.
  • If possible, consider placing a bag liner in your hamper that’s disposable or can be laundered. Otherwise, ensure the hamper itself is washed and sanitized.

How often should you be washing clothes right now?

Unless you’re actively dealing with someone infected with COVID-19, you can keep washing your laundry the normal amount. If you are coming into contact with someone infected with the virus, however, it’s probably a good idea to launder your clothes afterwards to ensure you’re limiting the virus’s ability to spread.

Again, while doing your laundry can help reduce some risk of spreading the virus, it’s nowhere near as effective as consistently washing your hands.

Does washing clothes kill viruses like coronavirus?

This is a tricky question, because the technically correct answer might be misleading. In short, no, washing your clothes won’t kill COVID-19, but it will still clean it off of your clothes.

The CDC offers these definitions for “cleaning” and “disinfecting”:

  • Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. Cleaning does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
  • Disinfecting refers to using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

Basically, washing your clothes will clean them, but won’t disinfect them. Even if your washer and dryer have sanitize modes, those are unlikely to kill the virus. According to our in-house laundry expert, lab manager Jonathan Chan, “Flu viruses denature at about 167°F—most sanitize cycles don’t go above 150°F.” Fortunately, you don’t really need to kill COVID-19, you just need to get rid of it. And that’s where cleaning your clothes can help. During the wash cycle, the agitation and detergent will likely scrub the COVID-19 off the infected clothes and flush it out with the wastewater.

Can you get coronavirus from using a laundromat or your apartment’s laundry facilities?

The most likely way you would contract COVID-19 from a public laundry facility is by touching hard surfaces that were recently touched by someone infected with COVID-19, such as the handle to a washer or dryer. As such, just make sure you wash your hands after using the facility. Even if someone has done a big load of laundry that’s covered in COVID-19, it will likely have flushed out with the wastewater during a wash.

Coronavirus COVID-19 laundry facility

Credit: Srongkrod
While your clothes are unlikely to pick up COVID-19 from the laundromat, you should still wash your hands after interacting with frequently-touched surfaces like doors and countertops.

The bottom line: Do your laundry, but really focus on keeping your hands washed

Again, while it’s a good idea to wash your laundry—especially if you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19—you’re unlikely to spread the virus via unwashed clothes. It’s not impossible, just unlikely. It’s far more important to simply stay two meters away from folks who are coughing or sneezing and to remember to keep thoroughly washing your hands.

How outsourcing hotel laundry can improve operations, safety

How outsourcing hotel laundry can improve operations, safety

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Today’s hotel operators can appreciate the importance of managing a reliable laundry and linen program. Hotel guestrooms, along with food-and-beverage departments, simply can’t function without it. Travelers trust that hotels are providing them with clean bedding, bath towels and table linens 365 days a year; if that trust is broken, loyalty will disappear as well. Unfortunately, running a hotel laundry is far more complicated and costly today than in years past. Maintaining periodic automatic replenishment levels, protecting staff from chemicals spills, rising labor costs and shrinking allocations of physical space are just a few of the many challenges. The alternative is to outsource to a commercial laundry, preferably one that features considerable automation. When sheets, pillowcases, towels and table linens can be folded by machines, it reduces laundry operating costs significantly.

Here are just a few considerations impacting owners’ decisions to outsource their laundry processes:

  • Labor represents 50 percent of a hotel’s laundry operating costs. In cities where the minimum wage is exceeding $15 per hour, it is cost-prohibitive to staff an on-site laundry.
  • As new hotels are being built, owners and developers are allocating less discretionary space for nonrevenue-generating areas like laundry and linen storage. In some cases, onsite laundries are excluded from the planning altogether because it is deemed an unnecessary expense.
  • Larger hotels, especially those in the full-service and luxury segments, are removing laundries during renovations and using the empty space to lease to a dry cleaner or they are finding that it can be used as meeting space, depending on its location in the building. If location is a problem, the vacant area is ideal for engineering offices or inventory storage.
  • Do-it-yourself laundry machines are proving to boost satisfaction for guests in the select-service and extended-stay segments. Adding this convenience for guests requiring onsite servicing is taking the pressure off hoteliers to manage the process themselves.

Automation Lowers Costs

Technology is one of the main reasons that hoteliers are choosing to outsource their laundry operations. Not only do commercial laundries eliminate investment risk and lower costs across the board, they are more adept at using chemicals properly. Owners can avoid costly workers’ compensation claims and remove risk and physical damage from chemical spills, while extending linen life at the same time. Improved wash formulas use new chemicals to combat premature wear and tear of linens, and they do a better job of removing stains and extending linen life. With greener technology and better chemistry, hotels are less likely to discard linens prematurely, especially when there is less damage from overdrying. According to TRSA, a group that represents companies that supply, launder and maintain linens and uniforms, newer technology is extending linen life by 20 to 30 percent.

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Before switching from an internal operation to an external one, the commercial launderer will do a fiber analysis of the hotel’s linen to ensure that the textiles are not consumer grade. If a linen manufacturer claims that a textile is tested for 100 washes, the commercial laundry will verify those claims. Validating the life cycle of a textile is critical, and hoteliers need to be knowledgeable about the textile fibers and how those fibers work together to extend linen life.

Another way a commercial laundry can help extend linen life is by ensuring that a hotel has adequate PAR levels. The recommended formula for success is maintaining a four-PAR inventory for bedding and towels per guestroom—one set in the room (per bed), one set on shelf, one set is dirty and being pulled out of the room, and one set is being washed. A lower PAR level does not mean lower linen costs. On the contrary, if a hotel doesn’t have sufficient inventory, it will take longer for rooms to be turned over, risking disgruntled guests. Also, if linen is badly stained or damaged, it will need to be replaced. That too can slow room turnover and it could also require the hotel’s linen supplier to make multiple deliveries in a day or week, adding more costs to the linen program.

How to Choose a Commercial Laundry

Differentiation between laundries comes down to the facility, its output capacity and its customer service. Cost also is a huge factor, especially with most commercial laundries investing in eco-friendly machines with water reclamation that require greener chemicals. In most geographical areas there are typically only a handful of facilities to choose from; in secondary markets there may only be one option. The relationship between the hotel and the launderer is key, and the facility must be willing to work within the budgetary and quality requirements of the hotel and its affiliated brand. If a hotel opts to extend beyond a geographical area to use a laundry farther away, it will incur higher delivery costs. Sustainability also is an important factor in laundry facility selection. Most operators today are mindful of selecting facilities that have green practices in place to ensure the chemicals used are safe for the environment. Modern equipment senses moisture so textiles are not overdried or burned and newer chemicals require less water and less heat.

Before making any determination to move the laundry process offsite, a hotel should work with its procurement partner to conduct a cost-study analysis to determine if outsourcing makes sense. The purchasing entity also can help hoteliers select a commercial laundry, as well as negotiating the contract, articulating hotel requirements, specifying legal and business terms (including adding an indemnification clause), and managing the relationship if issues arise with performance.

Source: https://www.hotelmanagement.net/

Author: Chris Kim, AvendraEd Hawkins, AvendraDavid Hill, Avendra

Photo credit: Getty Images/KasiaJanus

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