What’s the Safest Way to Do Laundry Right Now?
How to keep your clothes clean while socially distancing
With enough food and toilet paper, you could seal yourself indoors for a reasonable amount of time, but for some people who are without a washer and dryer, the limiting factor will eventually be clean clothes. In densely populated cities and other areas where space is at a premium, it’s common for people to lack laundry facilities in their own homes, forcing them to go to a public laundromat.
But because of the pandemic, many laundromats aren’t letting people inside to do their own washing. In many cases, the only remaining option is wash and fold — a service in which you send out your laundry for someone else to wash.
While it may seem risky to hand off your clothes to a stranger and take a bag of clean clothing back home, Ellie Murray, PhD, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Boston University’s School of Public Health and an avid science communicator, says that “sending out laundry should be reasonably safe.”
The virus, she says, “lasts longest on solid, nonporous surfaces like plastic and metal and less long on softer surfaces like cardboard. For fabric, it’s reasonable to assume that even if there were some virus initially, it probably lasts no longer than about a day.”
To be extra safe, Murray adds, you could avoid touching your laundry for 24 hours before putting it away, and likewise wait a day before sending your laundry out so you don’t risk infecting the people doing the washing.