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Protective masks hanging to dry after being washed.

COVID – 19 Washing Tips

Here is a general set of guidelines for laundry to prevent the spread of COVID – 19.

Differences Between Bacteria and Viruses

Bacteria are living organisms, most of which are not harmful to human beings. Viruses, on the other hand, are parasitic and need a live host to reproduce.

To prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses, you should wash your hands with soap and water and practice good hygiene. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol concentration.

How long does coronavirus live on different surfaces

While viruses can be spread from person to person, it has been found that they can remain infectious from 2 days to 7 days on inanimate surfaces.

Here is a list of surfaces along with the survival time for COVID-19 to entirely deactivate:

  • Banknote – 4 Days
  • Wood – 2 Days
  • Cloth – 2 Days
  • Glass – 4 Days
  • Plastic – 7 Days
  • Mask, Outer layer – More than 7 days

Three ways that germs are spread by clothes and towels

  1. When more than one person uses towels or bed linen, germs can spread between them.
  2. When someone handles dirty laundry, they can spread germs onto their hands.
  3. When clothes are washed, germs can spread between items in the process of being cleaned.

How to wash clothes

High-risk items such as sports clothes, shared towels, clothes used for food preparation, clothes worn over a wound or infected skin, clothing worn by essential service workers, and clothes worn in large gatherings.

It is recommended that you wash high-risk items after every use. Make sure to wash your hands after handling all unwashed clothes.

Wash high-risk clothes at the highest temperature permitted by your garment laundry symbols to ensure a deep clean that will kill most viruses.

High-risk items can be disinfected by washing them at a minimum of 60°C and adding a bleach-based product such as OMO powder for extra disinfecting power. Remember to check the washing instructions before laundering your garments.

For sheets and towels, which are prone to retaining bacteria, choose the longest wash setting with an extra rinse. To ensure a proper deep clean, be careful not to overload the machine.

Everyday items that haven’t been worn outside – wash in a standard way with a detergent. These are not likely to cause illness as long as they are kept away from ‘high risk’ items.

How to wash masks

First things first, take a look at the manufacturer and local government guidance on the reuse of masks.

Note: surgical, hospital grade, and N95 are single-use items.

Cloth masks can be rewashed, depending on the design and manufacturer recommendations.

Start by putting on your washing gloves and pour half a cup of bleach-based detergent like OMO powder into a bowl or bucket.

Be sure to soak the mask in hot water and OMO washing powder for 60 minutes. Then rinse the mask and dry thoroughly before use. Finally, wash your gloves with soap and water at the end.

Pre-treat any stains with OMO liquid detergent and include in the washing machine for further stain removal.

OMO is also here to help with more washing tips, ideas involving messy play or activities for kids.