Dos and don’ts of washing lead out of clothes
5-step guide to washing lead out of clothes
Separate the Clothes: Keep lead-contaminated clothes separate from other laundry. This prevents cross-contamination of clean clothes. If the clothes are heavily soiled, consider shaking them outdoors to remove loose dust and particles before washing.
Pre-Soak the Clothes: Pre-soak the lead-contaminated clothes in warm water for about 15-20 minutes. This helps loosen lead particles, making them easier to wash away.
Wash the Clothes: Wash the contaminated clothes separately from any other clothes. Use warm water and a heavy-duty laundry detergent. Do not overload the washing machine; this ensures that the clothes have enough space to move around, which helps in the effective removal of lead.
Extra Rinse Cycle: After the wash cycle, run an extra rinse cycle to ensure all the lead dust is removed.
Dry and Clean: Dry the clothes thoroughly before wearing. After drying, make sure to clean your washing machine. Run an empty wash cycle with hot water and detergent to clean the machine and remove any remaining lead dust.
Can I wash lead-contaminated clothes with other laundry?
No, it’s important to wash lead-contaminated clothes separately from other laundry to avoid cross-contamination.
Can lead be completely washed out of clothes?
While washing can remove a significant amount of lead dust, it may not remove all particles, especially in cases of heavy contamination. If you suspect severe lead contamination, it might be safer to dispose of the clothes properly.
Can I use cold water to wash lead-contaminated clothes?
Warm water is recommended because it helps to better remove lead particles from fabric.
How do I clean my washing machine after washing lead-contaminated clothes?
Run an empty wash cycle with hot water and detergent to clean your washing machine and remove any remaining lead dust.
What should I do if I work in an environment that exposes me to lead regularly?
If your work involves regular exposure to lead, consider using disposable coveralls over your clothing, use appropriate personal protective equipment, and follow occupational safety guidelines. Always consult with an environmental safety professional or your local public health department for advice tailored to your specific situation.
What are the symptoms of lead poisoning?
Symptoms of lead poisoning can include headaches, stomach pain, trouble sleeping, behavioral problems in children, and more. If you suspect lead poisoning, seek medical attention immediately.
What detergent should I use to wash lead-contaminated clothes?
A heavy-duty laundry detergent is recommended because these types of detergents are more effective at removing lead particles.
Is it safe to dry lead-contaminated clothes in a dryer?
Yes, it’s safe to dry the clothes in a dryer after they’ve been thoroughly washed and rinsed. This can help ensure that any remaining lead particles are not transferred back onto the skin. However, if the clothes are heavily contaminated, it might be safer to dispose of them properly.