What temperature should you wash your clothes to kill viruses and bacteria?

Coronavirus cases have now topped 11,000 in the UK, as the country concludes its first working week of total lockdown. Authorities and the general public alike are working to prevent the virus from spreading, and there are ways ordinary people can guard against infection, amongst them regularly washing clothes.

Should you wash your clothes to kill viruses and bacteria?

Most people are now confined to their homes, only able to leave on a few occasions as the virus spreads quickly with extended socialising.

However, the virus may also be able to spread indoors, possible through clothing.

The NHS warns both everyday clothes and bedsheets serve as breeding grounds for infection.


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They say clothes which cause illness are “high-risk” and may be the most dangerous for those sharing a home with someone who already has COVID-19.

Experts have now revealed the best practices to prevent infections with clothes washing.

As the virus spreads, people have recommended washing clothes at the highest possible heat to eliminate bacteria and germs.

However, according to cleaning experts with laundry company Dr Beckmann, this is not necessary.

Dr Beckmann spokeswoman Susan Fermor revealed a wash at 60C is enough.

She said: “There’s a common misconception that people should wash clothes on the hottest possible setting to kill bacteria, but it’s unnecessary.

“Tests have proven that washing your clothes at 60C, with a good detergent, is perfectly adequate to kill bacteria.

“Just make sure that you check all garments are suitable to be washed at this temperature before putting them in the washing machine and take care not to ruin your clothes by boil washing.”

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“Most people leave clothes and household items until a pile has built up before washing.

“There’s also a tendency for people to wash at 40 degrees on a quick wash cycle, which we don’t recommend.”

“Under current circumstances, we would recommend that you do 60-degree washes, more regularly, as soon as clothes have been worn.”

The NHS adds people washing potentially contaminated clothes should use a “bleach-based” product.

Officials have also clarified there is no need to treat “lightly soiled” everyday clothes the same as those exposed to an infectious agent.

The NHS said people should keep these items separately from those bearing the virus.

They released the following advice:

  • Keep and wash heavily soiled clothes separately from other items
  • Wash high-risk items separately from other items
  • Wash your hands after handling unwashed clothes

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