As we enter into 2022 and the second half of the school year, parents are continually wondering how they can keep their children as hygienic and safe as possible. Children are bound to come home with their school uniforms in disarray after a long day of learning and playing with friends. These stains are a sign of a good school day – but not such a great sign for the parents who have to clean them. Besides stains, germs are always creeping around, including Covid-19, which can linger on fabrics for up to three days. It is therefore essential to establish a safe clothes washing routine. Here, Deyan Dimitrov, laundry expert and CEO of Laundryheap, shares his top tips on keeping school uniforms clean and your family safe in the new school year.
Learn the difference between cleaning and disinfecting
When it comes to washing clothes, the most important distinction to note is the difference between cleaning and disinfecting. Cleaning involves the removal of dirt and germs from the surface of clothing. In some cases, this simply moves germs from one surface to another. Disinfecting, on the other hand, involves the use of chemicals to avert the spread of viruses or bacteria: by killing a high percentage of the germs or by preventing their reproduction. To be as safe as possible, you should ensure that you are disinfecting your clothes.
Wash at a high temperature with a bleach product
To disinfect your laundry, you should wash school uniforms at a high temperature. Take note of fabric-care instructions to avoid damaging any delicate items. Otherwise, any programme which operates at 60°C is optimum to kill any germs.
Make sure you wear gloves whilst handling dirty washing loads, and wash your hands thoroughly on taking them off. Then, with your programme selected and your laundry safely inside your machine, add detergent as you normally would.
Powder, liquid or tablet form is fine; as long as it is bleach-based you can be sure of disinfecting the items. This will mean opting for non-biological products, however, so be careful where you know children to have sensitive skin. The heat of the water will work to deactivate bacteria and improve the effectiveness of the detergent.
Since coronavirus can live on some fabrics for as long as 72 hours, you may want to wash uniforms daily. Just take care not to overfill the drum and follow these steps to be sure of banishing any germs each time that you do.
Avoid shaking laundry, dry completely
You should also avoid shaking your laundry. This could spread particles of the virus through the air and expose other items of clothing to germs. Ideally, dry your clothes thoroughly using a tumble dryer. Viruses and bacteria thrive in damp environments, so it is vital to let all clothing dry completely.
Since coronavirus can live on some fabrics for as long as 72 hours, you may want to wash uniforms daily
But what about the blazer?
Blazers are not easily washed and therefore tend to be cleaned less frequently than other school uniform items.
As many are made from wool or polyester, they are only washed in a washing machine at much cooler temperatures. This may help to remove stains and odours, but does not fully disinfect the blazer. Furthermore, the blazer may shrink or decolourise when dried in a tumble drier, especially if made from wool. As such, it is advisable to disinfect delicate items of clothing with a steam clean.
If you own a steam cleaner, blast steam closely onto the surface of the blazer and hold it there for a few minutes. Ensure that you have covered the whole item and wash using a temperature over 60°C. It is easiest to do this when placing the blazer over a handrail or bannister.
If you don’t own a steam cleaner, a steam-generating iron is a useful alternative. However, to stay on the safe side, you may want to take the blazer to a laundrette. Laundryheap is a great platform to use if you can’t make this journey. Simply arrange an online pick-up, and a driver will collect and return your laundry within 24 hours!
To stay on the safe side, you may want to take the blazer to a laundrette
And the PE kit?
Parents should take extra care when washing children’s PE kits due to the closer proximity children will be during this lesson. Sportswear is more exposed to germs than the regular school uniform and so students should avoid wearing their PE kits more than once between washes.
The majority of the kit can be washed with the same products and settings as the rest of your child’s uniform. Some washing machines offer ‘sports’ programmes which use a lower temperature. This is intended to protect the more expensive materials from which adult sportswear ranges are made from. But since PE kits tend to be made from cheaper and more robust polyesters this isn’t necessary; wash them at 60°C to be sure of banishing germs and sweat.
And don’t forget the trainers! Shoes don’t just come into contact with dirt on the ground but are also at risk of picking up germs whilst being handled before and after sports lessons. You can put trainers through the washing machine inside a pillowcase, which will protect them and your machine from taking too much of a hit. Leave them stuffed with newspaper inside an airing cupboard to dry out. But make sure to do this in advance as it could take a couple of days before they’re bone dry.
For a more routine quick fix, leather trainers will wipe down easily with disinfectant wipes – remember to wear gloves as you do so. And shoelaces can be removed from the trainers and added to any other load without any trouble.
You can put trainers through the washing machine inside a pillowcase
School bags are exposed to a range of different surfaces throughout the day. They are also touched regularly and may contain contaminated items inside. As bags are washed less often than clothing, if at all, school bags could carry and spread viruses and bacteria.