7 Tips for Avoiding Germs at the Laundromat

Laundromats can be safe if you take the proper precautions.
Laundromats can be safe if you take the proper precautions.
JANIFEST/iStock via Getty Images

Staying close to home during the coronavirus pandemic has left many trying to find innovative solutions for a number of tasks. Events like birthday parties are now virtual get-togethers, and there has been a resurgence of the milkman making deliveries as people avoid going to stores. But unless you have a washer and dryer, one chore still requires venturing out. You need to get your laundry done at the laundromat. If you’re concerned about the potential for exposure in a laundromat setting, take a look at some tips to help avoid problems.

1. Try doing laundry at off-peak times.

The guidance for remaining six feet away from others in public places should always be observed, but that might be tricky in a laundromat, where washers and dryers are close together, or in apartment laundry rooms which might not be very spacious at all. Try to limit your visits to off-peak times, when fewer people will be present. If you’re not sure when the off-peak hours would be, try calling the laundromat or asking an apartment manager.

2. Use a sanitizing wipe on washers and dryers.

Public places should be getting cleaned by staff on a regular basis, but if you’re unsure whether a laundromat is keeping up with current cleanliness standards, it wouldn’t hurt to wipe down the surfaces and handles of the appliances with a sanitizing wipe before using them.

3. Use hot water whenever you can.

Viruses and germs don’t like hot water. Try to avoid cold or warm water settings and use hot water settings whenever possible. In addition to killing whatever germs may be on your clothes, this will also minimize germs that may be left over from previous loads in the machine. Bleach will also help, but obviously you want to limit its use to white or light colors.

If you can’t use hot water, the temperature of the dryer should help kill off whatever viruses might remain, but you need to wash up, use hand sanitizer, or discard your gloves after transporting the wet load from one machine to another. And try to keep clothes in the dryer for a minimum of 45 minutes.

4. Don’t shake your dirty clothes.

Imagine the virus as baby powder on your clothing. Granted, it’s an imperfect comparison, but shaking a shirt or pants will likely send droplets airborne and into your face. Don’t wrap your arms around a pile of dirty clothing to transport it into a washer, either. You’re risking contamination.

5. Don’t fold your clothes at the laundromat.

Laundromats have lots of tabletop surfaces for people to lay their dry clothes flat and fold them, but that’s not a great idea at the moment, as you can’t be sure of surface contamination. Risk some wrinkling and fold them at home instead.

6. Use laundry services carefully.

If you really want to avoid the laundromat, a pick-up laundry service may be available in your area that will fetch your dirty threads and deliver them once they’ve been cleaned—but then the risk is passed to the delivery person, who has to handle your clothes. To make things safer, try to let laundry sit for a few days before having someone come to pick it up. According to experts, any surface contamination on clothing is believed to die out after a day or two, but there’s no harm in giving it a little more time. And do the same for the clean laundry that’s returned to you. Leave it in the bag for three days. Then you should be good to go.

7. Buy a portable washer.

Some people are opting for the full Howard Hughes experience during this time and avoiding all outside contact, and that’s OK. You can try buying a portable washer online which hooks up to standard kitchen faucets and an electric dryer, but they can be hard to find right now. Hand-crank washing machines are also out there.

Whatever you decide, you can always wear clothes for more than one day to help minimize how often you need to get laundry done. Just remember to change your underwear daily.

[h/t Wirecutter]

10 Rad Gifts for Hikers

Greg Rosenke/Unsplash
Greg Rosenke/Unsplash

The popularity of bird-watching, camping, and hiking has skyrocketed this year. Whether your gift recipients are weekend warriors or seasoned dirtbags, they'll appreciate these tools and gear for getting most out of their hiking experience.

1. Stanley Nesting Two-Cup Cookset; $14

Amazon

Stanley’s compact and lightweight cookset includes a 20-ounce stainless steel pot with a locking handle, a vented lid, and two insulated 10-ounce tumblers. It’s the perfect size for brewing hot coffee, rehydrating soup, or boiling water while out on the trail with a buddy. And as some hardcore backpackers note in their Amazon reviews, your favorite hiker can take the tumblers out and stuff the pot with a camp stove, matches, and other necessities to make good use of space in their pack.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Osprey Sirrus and Stratos 24-Liter Hiking Packs; $140

Amazon

Osprey’s packs are designed with trail-tested details to maximize comfort and ease of use. The Sirrus pack (pictured) is sized for women, while the Stratos fits men’s proportions. Both include an internal sleeve for a hydration reservoir, exterior mesh and hipbelt pockets, an attachment for carrying trekking poles, and a built-in rain cover.

Buy them: Amazon, Amazon

3. Yeti Rambler 18-Ounce Bottle; $48

Amazon

Nothing beats ice-cold water after a summer hike or a sip of hot tea during a winter walk. The Yeti Rambler can serve up both: Beverages can stay hot or cold for hours thanks to its insulated construction, and its steel body (in a variety of colors) is basically indestructible. It will add weight to your hiker's pack, though—for a lighter-weight, non-insulated option, the tried-and-true Camelbak Chute water bottle is incredibly sturdy and leakproof.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Mappinners Greatest 100 Hikes of the National Parks Scratch-Off Poster; $30

Amazon

The perfect gift for park baggers in your life (or yourself), this 16-inch-by-20-inch poster features epic hikes like Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Once the hike is complete, you can scratch off the gold foil to reveal an illustration of the park.

Buy it: Amazon

5. National Geographic Adventure Edition Road Atlas; $19

Amazon

Hikers can use this brand-new, updated road atlas to plan their next adventure. In addition to comprehensive maps of all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico, they'll get National Geographic’s top 100 outdoor destinations, useful details about the most popular national parks, and points on the maps noting off-the-beaten-path places to explore.  

Buy it: Amazon

6. Adventure Medical Kits Hiker First-Aid Kit; $25

Amazon

This handy 67-piece kit is stuffed with all the things you hope your hiker will never need in the wilderness. Not only does it contain supplies for pain, cuts and scrapes, burns, and blisters (every hiker’s nemesis!), the items are organized clearly in the bag to make it easy to find tweezers or an alcohol wipe in an emergency.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Hiker Hunger Ultralight Trekking Poles; $70

Amazon

Trekking poles will help increase your hiker's balance and stability and reduce strain on their lower body by distributing it to their arms and shoulders. This pair is made of carbon fiber, a super-strong and lightweight material. From the sweat-absorbing cork handles to the selection of pole tips for different terrain, these poles answer every need on the trail. 

Buy it: Amazon

8. Leatherman Signal Camping Multitool; $120

Amazon

What can’t this multitool do? This gadget contains 19 hiking-friendly tools in a 4.5-inch package, including pliers, screwdrivers, bottle opener, saw, knife, hammer, wire cutter, and even an emergency whistle.

Buy it: Amazon

9. RAVPower Power Bank; $24

Amazon

Don’t let your hiker get caught off the grid with a dead phone. They can charge RAVPower’s compact power bank before they head out on the trail, and then use it to quickly juice up a phone or tablet when the batteries get low. Its 3-inch-by-5-inch profile won’t take up much room in a pack or purse.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Pack of Four Indestructible Field Books; $14

Amazon

Neither rain, nor snow, nor hail will be a match for these waterproof, tearproof 3.5-inch-by-5.5-inch notebooks. Your hiker can stick one in their pocket along with a regular pen or pencil to record details of their hike or brainstorm their next viral Tweet.

Buy it: Amazon

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Adorable Products You Can Buy for International Sloth Day

Amazon
Amazon

It’s that time of the year again, folks—the time when we all collectively lose our chill over a slow-moving, two- or three-toed mammal with an adorable squeak and poop that defies physics. That’s right: International Sloth Day is on October 20. Here’s a list of must-have coloring books, onesies, and Christmas sweaters that you can pick up to showcase your love of one of the internet's favorite animals.

1. Cuddly Microwaveable Sloth; $20

Intelex/Amazon

Warm your heart and your body with a plush sloth that doubles as a soothing heating pad. The toy is filled with millet grains and dried French lavender, a combination intended to help you get to sleep easier.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Hanging Ceramic Sloth Planter; $18

FattyBee/Amazon

This flower planter pulls double duty, communicating both your love of sloths and your appreciation for plants. And it makes a tasteful piece of hanging home decor, too.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Sloth Coloring Book; $7

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform/Amazon

Sloths themselves are already works of art, but you’d be forgiven for wanting a few more sloth-related crafts in your life. Now you can make your own masterpiece with this detailed coloring book. All you'll need are some colored pencils and you'll be ready to go.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Farting Sloth Coloring Book; $7

M & L Coloring Books/Amazon

But maybe traditional coloring books aren’t your thing. You’re in luck: Amazon sells a coloring book for the crowd that both loves sloths and laughs a little too much at farts.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Sloth Socks; $14

Good Luck Socks/Amazon

These socks are ideal for people who might not want to wear their love of sloths out in the open but are very comfortable showing it off on their ankles.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Sloth Onesie; $40

Tipsy Elves/Amazon

No list of sloth-related products would be complete without a cozy onesie, and this one from Tipsy Elves is perfect for either pajamas or a last-minute Halloween costume. This onesie even comes with zippered pockets and cuddly sloth claws!

Buy it: Amazon

7. Sloth-Themed Ugly Christmas Sweater; $69

Tipsy Elves/Amazon

Why not celebrate the upcoming holiday season with this sloth-themed ugly Christmas sweater? You’re sure to be the hit of any holiday pub crawl or office Christmas party.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Sloth Mug; $10

LOZACH/Amazon

Embrace your inner sloth and declare your lazy feelings along with your morning cup of coffee.

Buy it: Amazon

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.