How to Wash Your Clothes and Kill Bacteria

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We’re growing more and more precautious about washing our hands more frequently and disinfecting surfaces we often touch. But what’s the best way to wash our clothes, and kill the viruses that might’ve come in contact with them?

First you must analyze what kind of fabrics you’re wanting to disinfect. Smooth surfaces, such as leather and vinyl, can be disinfected by just wiping them down as you would with any other surface. The good way to disinfect softer fabrics is using a detergent with bleach compound to kill off the germs when they’re in the wash. More soap doesn’t necessarily mean your clothes will come out cleaner though. Continue to wash your clothes with the amount of soup recommended. Germs and bacteria can actually cling on to leftover soap and linger on your clothes.

While soap is definitely important, the best way to kill off the bacteria and germs from your clothes is using heat! More specifically, heat from your dryer. Washing your clothes in hot water can help, but even at the hottest setting the water reaches below 140º. In order to kill off most of the viruses, the heat must reach about 170º. We recommend you dry your clothes on high for at least 28 minutes. Since most modern dryers don’t quite reach 170º anymore, we recommend you dry your clothes for longer if possible.

Below are a few more tips on protecting yourself from bacteria in your home:

  • The bottom of our shoes are often what carry the most germs. When coming inside the house, take off and leave your shoes outside to avoid bringing in any bacteria.

  • If you leave the house, whether it is to go to the grocery store or on a walk, change into clean clothes as soon as you get home. Wash your dirty clothes right away, or place in a sealed trash bag to avoid contamination.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces as often as possible. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

We hope you stay safe and healthy! IPI is taking several precautions to help ensure the health and safety of not only our staff and incarcerated workers but also Iowa’s entire correctional staff and prison population. Please read the full letter issued 03/12/20.

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