How do I do the laundry after a stomach bug like norovirus?

YouTube Video


When you or someone in the house has a vomiting or diarrhea illness, the germs can easily spread to others via the laundry. This is because most stomach bug germs like norovirus and c. diff are unlikely to be killed in the wash with cold or warm water. Even the "hot" cycle in most new high efficiency machines is really only warm. Lots of germs even survive the dryer. So what can you do with stomach flu soiled laundry? These are my recommendations in order of my preference. 

1. Throw it away. Anything heavily soiled with vomit or diarrhea that isn't something you absolutely love should be carefully put in a trash bag, tied up, and thrown out. 
2. Wash in on a hot, sanitize cycle with 1/2 cup chlorine bleach. (Not splashless bleach or color safe bleach, those is not the same. This is the chlorine bleach that I recommend.)
3. Wash on a regular hot cycle with 1/2 cup chlorine bleach. Bleach still works fine on cold if you need to use cold.
4. Wash on a hot sanitize cycle with no chlorine bleach if you are washing colored items. Wash on the longest, hottest, heaviest soil cycle that you have. Wash the items twice if they are heavily soiled.
5. Wash on a regular hot cycle if you don't have a sanitize cycle. Wash the items at least twice. 
6. Wash and quarantine. If this is a delicate item that you love that you can only wash on cold or delicate, wash it normally, dry it, and put it away for at least 2 weeks to allow remaining germs time to die. 
7. Boil all your laundry for 10 minutes in a huge pot over a fire pit in the back yard like they did in the old days. Their clean laundry was cleaner than ours is today. 

Don't forget to wear gloves when handling the dirty laundry and putting it into the washer. Carry laundry to the washer in a trash bag. If you carry it in a laundry basket, you will need to disinfect the laundry basket. Wear gloves when transferring the laundry from the washer to the dryer. Use a solution of 10% chlorine bleach in water to wipe off the controls to the washer and dryer and door handle. Run the washer empty on hot with chlorine bleach to clean it when you are doing the sick laundry. If you cloth diaper, it is best to switch to disposable diapers while baby is sick. These are the disposable gloves that I buy which are the best deal that I can find.


I don't recommend a particular detergent at this time, so use whatever you like. I've been testing lots of detergents and I'll let you know if I find anything great. Please note that my experiments shown in the above video only test for bacteria and fungus. So, I can't guarantee that my methods will kill every single virus. If you want to read the experiment details from this video, they are on this page of my Dr. Annie's Experiments website
 

*Norovirus has been shown to survive temperatures up to 169 degrees F. I can't guarantee that your washer sanitize cycle gets that hot. A regular hot cycle definitely does not get that hot. However, the combination of the hot sanitize cycle, bleach, washing away the germs, and the hot dryer is the best we can do and usually keeps the germs from spreading in my experience. However, I cannot guarantee that my methods and suggestions will kill all viruses and prevent anyone from getting sick.