How to disinfect your laundry room and keep clothes fresh, according to an expert

Five simple tips and tricks for laundry day.
By Megan Foster

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Even if you consider yourself an expert at doing laundry, you may need to alter your routine to ensure your clothing and laundry room stays clean during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

According to The World Health Organization, preliminary information indicates that the coronavirus may "persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days," which includes clothing. And the laundry room is a place where dirty and clean clothes come in direct contact with one another.

To help avoid cross-contamination, lifestyle expert Jill Bauer shared her tips for laundry room organization — from your cleaning your machines to keeping socks in one place — and offered up tips on how to maintain your clothing's freshness.

Organize clothes by indoor and outdoor wear

Laundry room organization starts with sorting clothes. And Bauer recommends sorting your dirty clothes into two categories: outside clothes and inside clothes. To make sure they don't come in contact with one another, she says you can either use a pre-separated hamper or a laundry bag.

"The outside clothes (or clothes that may have been contaminated) if you were out and around people, those were in a hamper that also needs to be cleaned," said Bauer. "So whether it's a washable liner or it's an existing type of system that has washable holders for your laundry, that's something you might want to look into."

Whitmor Commercial Laundry Center

Bauer tells Shop TODAY she loves this laundry hamper because it doesn't take up a lot of room. She also notes that it's helpful for easily sorting clothes into categories.

The hamper sits on wheels, making it easy to move from one room to the next. Bauer likes that the removable liners are washable and that it has a bar that works well for hanging things you don't want to fold.

Trademark Home Heavy Duty Laundry Bag

"I'd put this bag inside of my traditional laundry basket. It holds all of the dirty clothes but won't contaminate the laundry basket as much because the clothes are in the bag," said Bauer.

She pointed out that using this bag makes it easy to carry your laundry upstairs, downstairs or around the house. The bag is washable so you can toss it right in the wash with your dirty clothing.

Use mesh bags

Bauer recommends these mesh bags for keeping smaller items protected and together.

"Most people use these for their lingerie or delicates, but I have to tell you, if you're always finding that you're missing a sock, this is the best way to keep your pairs of socks together, " she said.

Mesh Laundry Bags

These bags are made with mesh polyester fabric and rust-free zippers. Bauer advises having one for every member of the family so they know to use one whenever they toss their load in the wash. She also notes that they are especially helpful if you have little ones with tiny feet because those smaller socks are easier to lose.

Always clean your lint trap

"The number one thing you can do to make your dryer more efficient is to always make sure you're cleaning the lint — doing that every single time will make sure that there's proper airflow going through the dryer," she explained."It will allow the clothes to dry more quickly and it's the way to make sure your dryer is operating at maximum capacity."

Sealegend Dryer Vent Cleaner Kit

Sometimes, you may want to do a deep clean of your dryer and Bauer recommends finding an attachment for your vacuum that will help you best clean the smaller areas.

"I love the idea of this lint vacuum attachment," said Bauer. "It's tiny and can get down into the dryer duct where lint often accumulates."

This one from Sealegend attaches to a regular vacuum hose and is designed with a flexible 33-inch hose.

A.J.A. & More Lint Bin

If you don't have a wastebasket to put your discarded lint, Bauer recommends either an empty tissue box or a magnetic container that attaches to your dryer. This one from A.J.A. & More provides a convenient place to do your lint dumping.

Use reusable laundry balls

Bauer knows that dryer balls are becoming an increasingly popular laundry accessory. "They're usually made out of wool. They help to tumble the clothes and reduce static," she said.

If you can't access the wool kind, she says that crumbling up a piece of aluminum foil and forming it into a ball also works.

Laundry Dryer Balls

Reusable dryer balls act similar to dryer sheets and are extremely easy to use. In addition to reducing static, they help tumble clothes to speed up drying time quickly — plus, they'll last a long time.

Clean out your washing machine

Bauer says that there are a lot of touchpoints in your laundry room that need to be cleaned.

"Do make sure you're doing a quick disinfect of those before you do your laundry each time if you can unless you're the only person that has been doing the laundry and you know that your hands are clean every single time."

She recommends using cotton balls with a bit of rubbing alcohol to disinfect all the buttons and the touchpoints on the machine.

To deep clean the inside of your washer, she advises mixing baking soda and water (one-quarter cup of each) and putting that in the detergent area of your washing machine. Then, add two cups of white vinegar to the main drum and run your washer on its highest temperature setting.

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