VANCOUVER -- The coronavirus pandemic has upended every aspect of our lives, including something as routine as doing laundry. How do you handle the laundry of someone with COVID-19, and are laundromats safe these days? The experts at Consumer Reports suggest some simple steps to protect yourself while doing laundry in the age of the coronavirus.

It’s unknown how long the coronavirus can survive on clothes, but researchers think it’s possible for it to remain infectious for hours or even days. Therefore, any clothes that may have been exposed to the coronavirus should be treated as contaminated and kept in a separate laundry bin.

When it’s time to do the laundry, use disposable gloves and throw them away immediately after you finish, then wash your hands. If you don’t have gloves, you can do the laundry without them but be sure to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards, too.

You can wash the laundry of someone with COVID-19 the way you’d wash a regular load. The experts say that no special detergent or bleach is needed, but that you should use the warmest water setting for the items being washed. And be sure to dry them completely.

After you put the laundry in the washer, disinfect all the surfaces in your laundry room that may have been contaminated, like doorknobs and the door pull on the washing machine.

If you’re using a shared laundry facility in an apartment building or a laundromat, disinfect handles and surfaces before you touch the machines. And most importantly, keep at least six feet away from other people. Your chances of getting the virus from someone else, is much higher than getting it from a surface.

When you get home, be sure to give your hands a thorough 20-second wash with soap and water before and after you handle the laundry.

These tips are also important to follow if you’re living with someone who works in a hospital or another place where he or she may be exposure to the virus. 

Files from Consumer Reports