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How Should I Do Laundry Now?

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If you’re largely housebound, there’s no need to think too hard about clothing and contamination.

“If you typically take off your shoes when you come in the door, that’s a good idea for lots of diseases,” said Nellie Brown, the director of workplace health and safety programs at Cornell University. “But you don’t have to act too differently.”

How should I be doing my laundry now?

The C.D.C. recommends using the warmest appropriate setting for washing clothing, towels and bedding, and drying items fully at a high temperature. If you have delicates or other items that can’t withstand high temperatures, now may not be the time to wear them, Dr. Corthals said.

Wearing disposable gloves — if you have them — while doing laundry is advisable. But it’s more important to wash your hands as soon as you’ve finished handling laundry, whether you have gloves or not.

Don’t shake out your laundry, ever, because it could disperse virus through the air. When you’re done, clean and disinfect your laundry hampers, baskets and bags. Lining your hamper with a washable or disposable bag, if you have one, is a good idea. Keeping one bag for dirty clothing and one for clean clothing is another good practice. You can also use disposable plastic bags to carry your clothing.

In terms of washing clothes more than usual, Ms. Brown recommended asking yourself: What have you been doing with those clothes that you’re concerned about? If you’re a health care provider on the front lines of the virus, your concerns may be more urgent than those of a person who is able to stay primarily at home.

I have a communal laundry room in my building. What’s the best etiquette?

Some buildings have started sending out instructions on how to navigate using the machines during this time. If your building doesn’t already have a system in place, Dr. Corthals recommended establishing a laundry schedule among residents so that no more than two people (or one person, depending on the size of the room) are using the machines at a time and can maintain a safe six-foot distance between each other.

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