Expert tips on how to keep school uniform Covid-free

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Children went back to school in England at the start of this week and anxieties are understandably running high. Masks, social distancing and tests are necessary precautions to keep teachers and students safe, but Covid can live on fabrics for up to three days. Deyan Dimitrov, laundry expert and CEO of Laundryheap, has shared some expert advice for keeping school uniforms, PE kits, face masks and pencil cases as clean and safe as possible.

Wash at a high temperature

To disinfect school uniforms set your washing machine to a high temperature, ideally 60 degrees. Higher temperatures are more effective in killing germs and bacteria. Take note of fabric-care instructions to avoid damaging any delicate items.

Blazers need a much lower temperature to avoid them shrinking but cooler washes will not fully disinfect the garment. You will need a steam cleaner or you can use a steam-generating iron. To be on the safe side, you may want to want to take blazers to dry cleaners.

PE kits are more exposed to sweat and dirt than school uniform so you should set the machine to 60 degrees to rid it of germs.

Use gloves and avoid shaking

Make sure you wear gloves whilst handling washing loads which may have been exposed to harmful germs. Then take the gloves off and wash your hands thoroughly once clothes are inside the machine.

Avoid shaking laundry as this could spread virus particles through the air and expose other items to germs.

Use bleach

Powder, liquid or tablet form detergent is fine as long as it is bleach-based so you can be sure items are being disinfected. Be careful if children in your household have sensitive skin.

Wash frequently

Covid can live on some fabrics for 72 hours. But, on the whole, the risk of contracting coronavirus from school uniform is low provided that children stick to social distancing and regularly wash their hands.

It is not necessary to wash clothing after every use (unless it is a face mask or PE kit). But utilising spare uniforms throughout the week is recommended.

Dry thoroughly 

Viruses and bacteria thrive in damp environments, so it is vital to let all clothing dry completely.

Ideally, dry your clothes thoroughly using a tumble dryer. Otherwise, you can use a clothes horse in a well aired, warm room until the weather is nice enough for outside washing lines.


You can put shoes made from canvas through the washing machine inside a pillowcase, which will protect them and your machine. Shoelaces can be removed and added separately to any other load without trouble.

Leave the shoes stuffed with newspaper inside an airing cupboard to dry out, remembering that it could take a couple of days before they are bone dry.

Leather shoes can easily be wiped using disinfectant wipes. Be sure to wear gloves when you do.

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Reusable face coverings

Face coverings must be washed at the end of every day otherwise they may harbour germs and bacteria. They should be washed at 60 degrees with a bleach-based detergent.

Face masks can be stored in a sealable plastic bag until they are washed to avoid them transferring any germs to other items in school bags.

School bags and pencil cases

Canvas bags can be placed inside the washing machine alongside the rest of your laundry and disinfected in the same way. Just use a high temperature and bleach-based detergent. This will likely be a weekend job to give bags time to dry fully.

For those made from leather, or other delicate materials, use disinfectant spray or wipes.

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