Even if your local laundromat is open, you can choose to wash your clothes at home to avoid exposure to Covid-19. Or maybe you have clothes that are hand washed only as they are too delicate for the washing machine. Here’s how to do it.
Step 1 : Selecting the Right Detergent
Add 1 teaspoon of regular liquid or powder detergent for each pound of clothing you wash. (Neil Lant, a research fellow at Procter & Gamble who is focused on fabric care, said that on average three items of adult-sized clothing weigh about a pound.) Be careful not to use too much detergent, as it will make the rinsing process exceedingly long and is likely to leave behind residue that can cause skin irritation.
A no-rinse detergent like Soak Wash is a great option because it removes a step from the process. You should never puncture a detergent pack for hand laundering; the detergent that is sold in packs is highly concentrated, and it poses a risk if it comes in contact with the eye, either from being squirted out of a pack or from the detergent being transferred from the hands to the eyes.
While detergents designed specifically for hand laundering provide easy-to-follow dosage guidelines, it can be trickier to determine how much regular laundry detergent to use.
Step 2 : SWIRL
Add clothes to the detergent solution and submerge them fully. Use your hands to mimic the agitation of a washing machine. Move the garments by swirling and pumping them in the detergent solution so that it can penetrate the fibers.
Step 3 : SOAK
Once the garments are submerged, allow them to soak in the solution for 15 to 60 minutes, depending on how visibly dirty the fabric is.
Step 4 : DRAIN AND RINSE
Drain the detergent solution and wipe the sink free of any suds, then refill the sink with clean cool or lukewarm water to begin rinsing. Using your hands, agitate the clothes to release detergent, draining the water and repeating until they are fully rinsed. Sturdier fibers like polyester and cotton can be rinsed directly under running water, though you should avoid rinsing delicate items like hosiery or fine scarves directly under a running tap.
Step 5 : DRY
After the final rinse, drain the sink, move the clothing to one side and, one by one, press down on each garment to extrude the water held in its fibers. Do not wring the fibers, which can cause stretching or other damage. The first press, so to speak (it’s like making wine!), is just with hands, in the sink, to push out as much water as possible without wringing.
If you have a clean, dry towel to spare, lay the clothing flat on the towel and roll the towel and piece of clothing up together, jelly roll style. The combination of pressing out the water and rolling the item in a dry towel will leave it only damp, rather than dripping wet, which will speed up drying time. If you don’t have a clean towel to spare, but you do have a salad spinner, it can be used to extrude water from smaller items like socks, underwear or T-shirts.
Allow the clothing to air dry by laying it flat, using a drying rack or line drying it if that is an option.
As far as outdoor drying goes, the same rules apply as for exposure to people, said Vineet Menachery, a virologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch. If the clothes are more than 6 feet away from an infected person’s sneezing or coughing droplets, they are safe to line dry.
“It is unlikely coronavirus is floating through the air outside,” said Dr. Menachery. “Now if your neighbor is sick and coughs out the window less than 6 feet away from you hanging clothes, then they might be contaminated.”
Christian Lindmeier, a spokesman for the World Health Organization, echoed that opinion in an email: “The coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is not airborne. It is mainly transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. These droplets are too heavy to hang in the air. They quickly fall on floors or surfaces.”
If you do not have a drying rack or if space in your home is limited, wet clothes can be put on plastic hangers and hung from a shower curtain rod to drip-dry.
Tips and tricks
- Check the weather and, if you have outdoor space, do your wash on a dry day. Even if you will be drying clothes indoors, lower air-moisture levels will help your items dry faster.
- Working in small batches — 3 to 4 days worth of clothes — will make the process much easier, and will not leave every surface of your home covered in drip-drying pieces.
- Bulky items like towels and sheets can be difficult to wash and even more difficult to dry, especially for those without access to outdoor space for line dying. Instead of washing them, spot treat any stains and then steam them, which will freshen and clean them. You can also extend bed linen use by laundering pillowcases only, which are smaller and less cumbersome to wash and dry by hand.
Source: Jolie Kerr, How to Handwash Your Clothes, nytimes.com