Firstly, it is crucial to understand the difference between cleaning and disinfecting. Cleaning, by definition, means removing surface dirt and impurities. It does not necessarily guarantee the effective removal of disease-causing germs. After lockdown, cleaning items of personal use is not enough. Protective gear like gloves and masks are more likely to come in contact with contaminated surfaces and hence need to be disinfected properly.
According to CDC, disinfecting can kill germs on surfaces. This lowers the risk of spreading infection.
1) Disposable Masks and Gloves
If there’s someone infected with fever or flu in your household, it is best to use disposable gloves and masks when handling that person’s laundry. Wipe the laundry basket and the machine drum thoroughly with disinfecting wipes. Practice social distancing. Carefully dispose the gloves and masks to avoid spreading the infection to others.
After removing the gloves, wash your hands with soap or a handwash for at least 20 seconds with hot water. Ensure that only one designated person or the caregiver handles the unwell person’s laundry. Children and elderly persons should not be allowed to handle these items.
2) Reusable Masks and Gloves
If you want to avoid contact with contaminated surfaces at grocery stores or office cars, use reusable gloves and masks.
But what is the proper way to clean and disinfect your reusable gloves and masks? One thing you should keep in mind is to wash the clothes and masks you have worn outside separately. Do not mix them with the rest of the laundry as there is a chance of transmission of germs.
Keep a dedicated laundry bag for clothes and masks worn outside. Take off all your clothing, including mask and gloves, as soon as you reach home. After changing your clothes, wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds. Now, toss the used clothes and protective gear in the washing machine and set it on the hottest water setting possible. If you have a sanitisation cycle on your washing machine, use it. Ensure that all your laundry is dried thoroughly. Use the dryer or dry them in direct sunlight.
To disinfect or to sanitise your laundry you can use laundry an additive like Lifebuoy Laundry Sanitiser. These should be mixed with your regular detergent. Always refer to pack for more detailed instructions before use.
3) Cloth Face Masks
Remember that cloth masks should be washed after every use. Buy a mask that fits you well. You do not want to keep adjusting it as that would mean touching your face. The point of the mask is to cover your nose and mouth. If the mask’s elastic feels loose, try and fix it or discard it. You can make cloth masks at home from scarves, T-shirts or towels. It is important to have three layers for a cloth face mask.
Remember, before putting on your face mask, wash your hands with soap or use a sanitizer. Next, identify the interior side of the mask and ensure that this is the side which touches your face. Your mask should be tightly worn covering your face and mouth. If you want to know about the proper usage and disposal of your face mask, read this! Practice proper hand washing hygiene before and after touching your face mask or gloves. These tips can help you in the long run.