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Does washing clothes eliminate monkeypox? What to know about disinfecting for the virus

Fort Worth Star-Telegram - 8/10/2022

The monkeypox virus remains a global health emergency, with a total of 62 cases reported in Tarrant County within the last month.

The 2022 monkeypox outbreak started after the first case was reported on May 17 in Portugal.

Monkeypox symptoms are similar to, but milder than, the symptoms of smallpox, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Monkeypox begins with fever, headache, muscle aches and exhaustion. The monkeypox virus also causes lymph nodes to swell while smallpox does not.

The monkeypox virus is rarely fatal, with over 99% of infected people likely to survive.

Monkeypox can spread when a person comes into contact with the virus from an infected animal, infected person, or materials contaminated with the virus, per the CDC.

The virus can survive on linens, clothing and other surfaces, according to the CDC. In one study, health officials found live virus 15 days after a patient’s home was left unoccupied.

Here’s what to know about disinfecting for monkeypox in your home.

What cleaners are best to fight monkeypox?

The CDC recommends using a disinfectant registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This can be checked with a number on the the bottle or canister.

Disinfectants are different from household cleaners or sanitizers because they generally kill more microbes on a surface or object while cleaners remove germs and sanitizers reduce germs. The CDC advises cleaning surfaces before disinfecting for best results.

The surface should remain wet with the EPA registered disinfectant for the amount of time indicated on the canister to ensure the product is effective.

The CDC advises cleaning and disinfecting household items in the following order if exposed to the virus:

Does washing clothes get rid of the monkeypox virus?

Washing contaminated clothes and linens should be effective in disinfecting them from the monkeypox virus.

According to the CDC, used or contaminated clothing, linens and bedding materials, towels and other fabric items should be contained until laundering. When possible, people with monkeypox should handle and launder their own soiled laundry and not mix items with other household members’ belongings.

A standard washing machine detergent is efficient to use while following label instructions. Laundry sanitizers may be used but are not necessary, according to health officials.

Always wash your hands after handling dirty laundry.

Should furniture be sanitized?

Soft furnishings and upholstered furniture that had minimal contact with an infected person should be disinfected.

Household items and surfaces that have likely not been in contact with a person infected with monkeypox do not need to be disinfected, according to the CDC. This includes clothing and items in drawers or boxes that have not been in contact with an infected person.

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