• Sarah Hunter

1 Trick to De-Germ Your Quilts (and Clothes)

a quilt in the washing machine

Our clothes, and the quilts we wrap up in when we’re not feeling good, are a carrier of germs just like our skin. It’s just as important to wash them as diligently as we are washing our hands!

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest washing clothing items with the warmest appropriate water setting and to dry them using heat. They also recommend washing your hands after handling dirty laundry, and sanitizing laundry baskets.

Girl wearing a helmet and scarf

But before you run to the grocery store in your hazmat suit to stock up on laundry detergent and then boil your clothes, it’s important to understand how laundry detergents work, and how to use that science to clean your textiles.

Hot Water is Best, Unless…

Unfortunately, a lot of today’s fabrics are, well, allergic to hot water. Anything that is made to keep you your body cool or dry, like many of today’s popular athletic wear (aka yoga pants), needs to be washed in cool water to avoid damaging the fabric. Quilts are the same way. In a previous post, I shared my best practices for washing handmade quilts, and below I’m taking that one step further to explain how I do my best * to degerm quilts and clothes! (*DISCLAIMER: I’m not claiming to kill all virus and bacteria with this method, but it’s the most practical way I can think of to reduce germs without ruining clothes and quilts)

Talking Dirty

In short, the enzymes in laundry soap work by loosening and binding to dirt, then lifting it up out of clothes and into the water. However, as health educator, Karen Owoc, points out in an recent interview, “…if the detergent isn’t completely rinsed out, neither is the dirt.”

Today’s high efficiency (HE) washing machines are made to use less rinse water, which is normally a good thing. But if they aren’t using enough water to completely rinse out the detergent, then they’re not cleaning as well as they could.

Luckily, the fix is an easy one. If you must wash your clothes/quilts with cooler water, add an extra rinse cycle. The extra water will thoroughly rinse away the detergent and the germs/dirt that are bound to it. Here are a couple extra tips for minimizing the yuck on our yoga pants:

  • Use a little less detergent than normal. Creating extra suds isn't helping if they’re not getting rinsed out, and manufacturers often overstate the amount of soap needed.

  • Practice #socialdistancing with your laundry. Sure, you might be able to fit a week’s worth of laundry in your washing machine, but detergents need roomto move through and around your dirty laundry. Give them some space.

  • Hose your laundry baskets down with a sanitizing spray regularly. Be sure to get the inside and outside where your hands would normally carry the basket. While you’re at it, hose yourself down too. Just be sure to close your eyes first.

Coming Clean

A recent study published by Harvard Health indicates that the lifespan of the COVID-19 is likely to be longer on hard surfaces than on soft ones like fabric, although they don’t fully understand why as of yet. To best protect your family, wash what you can in the warmest appropriate water and dry with heat when possible. For more delicate clothes like sportswear, and for quilts, wash as indicated on the label and add an extra rinse cycle.

If you have a Lazy Cozy Quilt, you don’t have to worry about it falling apart from repeated washings. It was made to be used, washed and used some more! Just follow the tips outlined above, and in this previous post, to get the most out of it. And if you don’t have a Lazy Cozy Quilt, you’re missing out! Visit the shop to find yours now. Be well, my friends!