We’ve had to adjust many of our routines thanks to COVID-19: working from home instead of the office, ditching the classroom for distance learning instead, hanging out with friends through video chat instead of in person. One thing you may not have expected to change? Your laundry habits. If you don’t have a washer and dryer in your home, you might be wondering, “Are laundromats safe during COVID-19?”
The good news is: You can do laundry in laundromats or shared laundry rooms. However, it’s essential you take safety precautions anytime you enter a public place. Here are some tips for doing laundry in a laundromat or shared laundry facility during COVID-19.
Visit laundromats when they’re less crowded
The novel coronavirus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. When an infected person talks, coughs, or sneezes, these droplets can be inhaled by nearby people, who can become infected.
Because of this risk, one of the best ways to protect yourself and others in a shared facility is to go when it’s less crowded. The weekends tend to be the busiest times for public laundromats since most people work Monday through Friday. After the typical workday ends around 5 pm is a busy time as well.
Experiment with different days and times to determine the optimal times to go. If the laundry facility gets busier after you’ve already arrived, try to maintain six feet of distance from others. If you can, wait outside or in your car for your loads to finish. And of course, wear a mask!
Sanitize and clean laundry machines before use
If you want to be extra safe while doing laundry, you can clean and disinfect the washer and dryer before touching them and using them.
First, spray Charlie’s Soap Kitchen & Bath Cleaner on both the outer surface of the machine, as well as inside the drum. Let the cleaner sit and soak for a few minutes before rinsing or wiping clean. After cleaning, remember to disinfect with an EPA-registered household disinfectant. You can also make a disinfectant with ⅓ cup bleach per gallon of water. Just make sure to wear gloves and ventilate the laundry facility while using it.
Check the washer you’re using to see if there’s a self-clean option. This may cost you an extra buck or two, but it may be worth it for the extra peace of mind. You can also wash a load of towels or rags first with our natural laundry detergent before your main loads to get the machine clean (and your towels, too).
Touch as few surfaces as possible
If you’re washing dirty laundry that an ill person has used or worn, wear disposable gloves when handling it. If you don’t have gloves, wash your hands immediately afterward. Avoid shaking dirty laundry, which may disperse the virus through the air.
The CDC states that you can wash dirty laundry from an ill person with other people’s items. Just be extra careful when handling the laundry before it’s washed.
Remember to touch as few surfaces as possible when you’re in the laundromat or shared facility. Wait to fold your clothes at home so you can avoid touching possibly contaminated countertops. Wash your hands after loading the washer and dryer, starting the machines, after touching any door handles or touching anything in the shared space.
Other laundry options
If you’re still struggling with the “are laundromats safe” question, there are other options. A wash-and-fold service may be a better option if you’re not comfortable going to a shared laundry facility (not to mention, you don’t have to do the heavy lifting!). That being said, you should still take precautions.
The coronavirus has not been shown to survive more than a couple of days on fabrics and clothing. If you or someone in your home is sick, protect laundry workers from the virus. Keep your laundry “quarantined” in a separate bag for two to three days before sending it out.
On that same note, you can quarantine the clean laundry you get back as a precaution. Stow it in a closet or a room that’s not used, and wait two to three days to open the bags.
Hand washing your clothes at home is another option, too! Choose an efficient, concentrated detergent like Charlie’s Soap Natural Laundry Liquid Detergent, which cleans everything from delicates to heavy-duty, soiled fabrics. Dry your clothes completely on a drying rack or clothesline before folding and putting them away.
Psst… laundromats like Clean Eugene have even started offering Charlie’s Soap products for free to their patrons!
So are laundromats safe?
In this midst of COVID-19, entering a public space does potentially subject you to exposure to the novel coronavirus. However, the best ways to reduce risk or spread of infection at the laundromat include doing laundry during off-peak hours, wearing a mask, staying six feet away from others, washing your hands frequently, and be prepared to clean and disinfect laundry surfaces with Charlie’s Soap products.