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How to Sanitize Clothes, Bed Sheets and Towels

To sanitize clothes, use a normal laundry detergent according to washing machine instructions and dry thoroughly using the warmest temperatures recommended.

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Before sanitizing clothes, read and follow directions on labels of laundry or clothing items and detergent. To sanitize your clothes, use a normal laundry detergent according to washing machine instructions and dry thoroughly using the warmest temperatures recommended on the clothing label.

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Basic tips

  • Immediately remove and wash clothes or bedding that have blood, stool or body fluids on them.
  • Immediately after disinfecting, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.3
  • Wash and dry your clothes at a higher temperature (100–135°F) for at least 30 minutes to ensure sufficient killing of germs.4
  • It’s safe to wash a sick person’s dirty laundry with other people’s items.
  • If handling dirty laundry from a person who is sick, wear gloves and a mask.
  • Clean clothes hampers or laundry baskets according to guidance for surfaces.
  • Wash hands after handling dirty laundry.
Tip

According to the CDC, dirty laundry can be washed with other people’s items.

Sanitizing towels and bed sheets

  • To wash bleach-safe bed sheets and towels, machine wash in the hottest water recommended using a good detergent and ⅔ cup Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach in a traditional deep-fill washer, or ⅓ cup Clorox® Disinfecting Bleach in a high efficiency clothes washer. Make sure the bleach contacts the load for 10 minutes.1  
  • Bedding should be washed at least weekly, and towels semi-weekly. Infected family members should not share any laundry with others in the home. 
  • When handling dirty bed sheets and towels, the following is recommended by the CDC: avoid shaking laundry to minimize dispersing virus into the air, wear gloves, and if possible contain dirty laundry in a hamper lined with a washable laundry bag or plastic bag. Wash hands when finished handling dirty laundry.2

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