We have a lot of customers who use our drop-off wash-dry-fold service, including some doctors’ offices. Should I continue this service during the COVID-19 crisis? I want to protect my employees, but I also want to help serve our community. What should I do?

You can continue to operate your normal drop-off business, as long as you make sure that your attendants wear latex gloves and proper face masks to prevent direct contact with the items.

However, I would be against washing any laundry originating in hospitals, doctors’ offices or nursing homes. Such items may contain viruses and bacteria, which can require special chemicals and more aggressive laundry procedures. I would play it safe and focus on basic, residential drop-off laundry items.

During this coronavirus pandemic, what are some tips and best practices for keeping my employees safe and healthy? Are gloves and masks effective enough? Should we be doing more than that to protect our staff members, as well as our customers? Please help.

Gloves and face masks are a must. Also, adhere to the six-foot principle. If drop-off laundry is brought in by customers, it should be placed in a cart at least six feet away from your attendant. In addition, the customer invoice should be available on a table that’s also six feet away from the attendant. And money exchanges should be handled in a similar, no-contact manner.

Also, be sure to clean the toilet seats in your restrooms with alcohol, bleach or hydrogen peroxide.

What are the best ways we can enforce safety procedures at our store for all of our patrons during this COVID-19 outbreak? Our customers are not adhering to the signage I have placed around the laundromat. They are especially ignoring our policy of no more than 10 people in the store at a time. How can we best enforce these important guidelines?

The best way to enforce such a rule is to place an attendant at your entrance. Once your store has reached capacity, no one should be allowed to enter until someone leaves.

However, be practical. The deciding factor should be the size of your facility. After all, if your laundromat is 10,000 square feet, it would be ridiculous to allow only 10 customers inside. A better guideline to follow is to allow 10 people per 2,500 square feet. With such a wide variance in the size of laundries, this is a more accurate gauge.

The water temperature at my laundromat is set at 120 degrees. This seems to be somewhat of an unofficial industry standard. However, is this temperature sufficient for dealing with the coronavirus, or should I raise my water temperatures?

A water temperature of 120 degrees is sufficient. As far as I understand, COVID-19 is not a water-borne virus. Also, in the wash cycle, detergent, bleach and other chemicals are added, which make it hard for a virus to thrive. Some confuse viruses with bacteria; for killing bacteria, the hotter the water, the better. However, for a virus, 120-degree water is fine. And anything hotter than that may become impractical for most laundromat owners.

Some store owners are not allowing folding or seating in their laundries during this outbreak. Is this something you would recommend?

No. I suggest controlling physical distance using other methods. The first method is to stripe the floor in front of your folding areas with bright tape, thus keeping customers who are folding six feet from one another. Also, if you have televisions near your folding tables, turn them off, as this will speed up the overall folding time.

As far as seating, use colorful tape and restrict customers from sitting in certain seats that may be located right next to each other, in order to maintain a safe distance between customers, without completely eliminating seating options.

Remember that your customers are there to work. It’s not a pleasant experience, especially right now, so try to accommodate them as best you can without creating a health risk.

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