When you are cheering for your kids during their soccer matches, gymnastics meets, volleyball games – or whatever sport they love – you are hoping they have a blast and can maybe bring home that special trophy! However, with all that celebration, and sometimes disappointment, I doubt you are thinking about the possibility of them coming home with a skin infection caused by MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus). Many people are unaware about the easy spread of MRSA through skin-to-skin contact and touching contaminated sports equipment. Neither do people realize that over half of the infectious disease outbreaks in competitive sports in the U.S. are from skin infections. Unfortunately, MSRA resists commonly used antibiotics, making infections very difficult to treat. It is important to get the word out about stopping MRSA so that parents and coaches will take simple measures to help reduce its spread. I am glad I can use this forum to talk about laundry habits that can help!
Here are a few tips to help prevent the spread of MRSA to your MVP:
- Wash athletic clothing with sodium hypochlorite bleach when possible. In addition to white cotton and polycotton items, many polyester and/or nylon colored sports jerseys and shorts can be safely bleached. To check for colorfastness to bleach, do a quick Bleachability Test: dilute 2 teaspoons Clorox® Regular-Bleach in ¼ cup water; apply a drop to a hidden hem, cuff, or inside seam; wait one minute then blot with a towel. No color change means the item can be safely bleached.
- Wash athletic clothing in hot water, or the warmest water temperature recommended on the garment’s care label. Washing in hot water provides better cleaning, and for items that cannot be bleached, it is the best way to help reduce bacteria counts.
- Offer to “adopt” any clothing items shared by the team and wash them in between games. For example, in my kid’s soccer league, all the players on the team share one goalie jersey for each game. They simply slip the jersey over their own shirt when it is their turn to play goalie. If your coach already washes the goalie jersey in between each game, your team is in good hands! If not, offer to take up the task to help practice clean laundry habits with the team.
- Stock up on extra towels. Add them to the sports bag and teach your kids to use them to sit on – think locker room bench! Also, have your child use a clean, dry towel after showering. You will have a few extra towels to wash, but if they are white they can just be the start of your next bleach load.
- No procrastinating! Wash athletic clothing after each use. This makes it easier to get any stains out, prevents odors from sweaty laundry, and limits the opportunity for contact with other laundry items.
Because MRSA infections can be serious, taking steps to prevent their spread is so important. You can learn more about MRSA at www.stopmrsanow.org.