The information developed for this guidance was taken largely from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website. It is important to note that the information is still developing as world health officials learn more about this strain of virus. We will continue to monitor the situation and adjust any guidance as needed.
- The virus is transmitted from person to person by exposure to large respiratory drops, and by direct contact. The infection itself takes place in the respiratory tract. The recommendation at this point is to take the same precautions as a flu outbreak. Wash hands frequently or use hand sanitizer and when sneezing, sneeze into the crook of your arm.
- At this point based on knowledge from other viruses such as SARS, it is believed that the life cycle of the Coronavirus outside the body is very short: it is estimated to be less than 20 minutes. Exception to the rule: linen that is contaminated with feces or bodily fluids may remain infected for up to 24 hours.
Risks to Drycleaning & Laundry Personnel
The risk when transporting and cleaning linen from the general public is considered very small at this point. General standard hyenic procedures have been put in place as
- Wash your hands regularly.
- Cough and sneeze in the inside of your elbow.
- Use tissues.
- Routine cleaning of hard surfaces with a disinfectant.
- Availability of hand sanitizers throughout the store and counter area.
Cleaning Garments from the General Public
There is no need to take any special precautions AT THIS TIME. The CDC advises that the drycleaning process, which includes cleaning and pressing, is effective on most viruses.
As is true with other viruses, laundering in hot water, 160 degrees F and with chlorine bleach is the most effective method for sanitizing laundry. If hot water and chlorine bleach are not safe for the items then laundering with a disinfectant product is an option. The CDC states laundering with detergent alone is an effective method.
Cleaning Linens Suspected of Being Contaminated with Bodily Fluids
Follow Blood borne Pathogens Guidelines for handling and laundering. See DLI bulletins OSHA 4 &5 and Regulatory & Legislative 10 for further information.
- Other guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) on the handling of linen need mentioning. If linen is to be transported on routes, then the soiled linen must be separated from the clean linen. Any containers used to transport clean linen, if previously used for soiled linen, must be properly decontaminated. Containers need to be labeled appropriately.
- Personnel should wear protective clothing if there is a risk of direct contact with biological agents (for example in the event of splashing). Replace and launder protective clothing in the event of contamination.
- Washing should be done at high temperature, 160F, for 25 minutes with chlorine bleach.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: “Can the virus be transferred from someone else’s clothes to my clothes?
A: There is little chance of this type of transfer occurring. First the virus only lives for a very short period outside the body. Second the cleaning process kills the virus on any garment and all garments.
Keep in mind we are wiping down the counter and having staff wash their hands or use hand sanitizer frequently.
Q: “Can our employees get the virus from handling the general public’s garments?”
A: The virus only lives for a very short time outside the body, so there is very little chance that our employees will contract the virus from touching people’s garments. Our employees will continue to use best practices and wash their hands and use hand sanitizer as frequently as they need to.
Q: “Can I get the virus from handling the general public’s linens?”
A: There is little risk from handling any type of linen from the general public.