Edit: COVID and your laundry
In April, a Texas biomedical scientist published an article about COVID and clothing. She suggested that, during the COVID pandemic, it's usually fine to just do laundry in the ordinary way. But, if you're washing the laundry of a likely COVID patient, it's wise to take extra precautions. Please see the CDC's recommendations, plus the rest of my post (below).
A scholarly report discusses the matter
Some years ago, a scholarly report was published. The report's "Appendix A" discusses, among other things, how to clean your laundry if there's a risk that it may be somewhat contagious.
The advice given
The report advises:
- Whenever you do laundry, add some activated oxygen bleach (AOB).
- Notes: You can use standalone AOB, or a detergent with AOB included. This link discusses your options. In the US, Tide powder is one good choice. Certain products are probably not good disinfectants, including Tide liquid, Tide pods, and OxiClean.
- If possible, also do laundry at 140 °F (60 °C).
- Note: This may shrink and/or destroy certain items. (Source.) Read their care labels.
- Use the regular cycle. Don't enable "quick wash", "water saving", or any other environmentally-friendly options.
- Make sure each item goes through the rinse and spin cycles at least twice. Preferably three times.
- It's best to wash items belonging to the infected family member in separate loads from everyone else's laundry.
- If you can also dry the items in sunlight, this is an extra bonus.
- The report also gives other advice; please see here.
In some countries (including the US and certain others), if you want to wash clothing at 140 °F (60 °C), there's a problem.
An article on the Bottom Line Inc. website states that, in these countries,
household water heaters typically are set to 120 °F [50 °C] to minimize the risk of scalding.
The article suggests three possible workarounds.
One (dangerous) workaround would be to raise your water heater's temperature to 140 °F (60 °C). But this is a dangerously-high setting. (Source.) It may also be illegal in your jurisdiction. (Source.) Water at 120 °F (50 °C) takes 5-10 minutes to cause a third-degree burn; but water at 140 °F (60 °C) takes just 3-5 seconds. (Source.) Third-degree burns sometimes kill people. (Source.) Maybe I should email the Bottom Line Inc. and suggest that they revise their article.
Another workaround might be to pour a kettleful of boiling water into your top-loading washer shortly before it's finished filling.
A third workaround is to use a washing machine with a water-temperature-boosting feature, "such as the Whirlpool Front-Load Washer with Deep-Clean Steam, model #WFW86HEBW, which can get the water up to 150 °F [65 °C]".