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TIPS: How to stop germs from spreading through clothing & fabric.

February 11, 2020

According to the National Health Service (NHS), UK, there are three main ways by which germs can spread by clothes and towels: when you share clothes with another person, when you mix soiled clothes of varying degree while washing (cross-contamination), and when you handle them with your bare hands.

Germs come from our own body. An anonymous therapist once said: “When you feel lonely, remember there are millions of bacteria, viruses, and other germs living in your body; you mean the WORLD to them.” Jokes apart, most of these germs are harmless, but some of them are guilty of causing infections. If you have a skin problem or wound, keep your clothes extra clean. Let us tell you why.

You pick up germs onto your outer clothes everyday - at work or home, at a party or in a social activity, at the gym or any environment you come in contact with. Imagine you visit an ill friend at the hospital or babysit your niece or nephew who might accidentally pee on you. Thousands of germs transfer to your body and clothes in these circumstances.

Recently, the Ministry of Health (MOH), Singapore moved its disease outbreak response level up one level to Orange amidst the coronavirus spread in the nation. This means the outbreak has moderate to high level impact on public health but still under control.

Taking stock of the current situation, Singapore’s prime minister, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, urged its citizens to ‘stay united, calm and carry on with our lives.’ It is also our responsibility to adhere to health guidelines and practise good hygiene at this time to combat the spread of virus.

Meanwhile the National Environment Agency (NEA) issued an interim guideline on hygiene practices for people who may have been exposed to the coronavirus. It highlights the need to keep your clothes, towels, blankets, mattresses and other fabrics clean and sanitised. These guidelines are handy for those unaffected as well.

As an informed citizen, apart from disinfecting your home and keeping your body sanitised, you should also practice a rigorous laundry routine than usual in Singapore. According to the NHS, most viruses survive for longer on hard surfaces (more than 7 days) than fabrics and tissues. A cold-like virus called respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) that causes illness in children can survive on clothes and tissues for 30-45 minutes. There is no such data available for the novel coronavirus, but it’s advisable to take precautions rather than being sorry.

Normal washing of everyday items with an off the shelf detergent is effective enough to reduce the risk of transmitting germs. These items include your office wear, casuals, bedsheets, pillow covers, light-weight blankets etc. Depending on the fabric type, you may use warm water to wash. Washing at 40°C will reduce the amount of germs while washing at 60°C will further reduce the germs. However, refer to the label on your clothes for washing instructions. 

Experts also suggest skipping your tumble dryer and drying your clothes on a clothesline under the sun. This is because there is no natural and effective alternative to sunlight that kills bacteria. Singapore’s unique high-rise laundry living - laundry hung on bamboo poles that extend out of the HDB flat - is a very efficient way to catch the hot but breezy weather to disinfect clothes.

In case you are ill, wash these items daily or at least every other day. To provide you greater convenience in such situations, Singapore’s best laundry service, Sendhelper app offers fast booking and free pick-up anywhere in Singapore.

However, there are also high-risk items that need extra care and attention that normal washing will be insufficient:

  • Clothes soiled with vomit or poo
  • Clothes used in kitchen
  • Curtains and blankets
  • Gym and outdoor wear
  • Shared towels etc.

Wash the above items at a higher temperature with a bleach-based product. We would recommend you to entrust washing of high-risk items with a reliable and professional laundry service provider like Sendhelper. Also, we do not use nasty chemicals to bleach the fabric.

The bottom line is keep your clothes clean to avoid unnecessary complications in these times of virus outbreak and infections. 

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