Rent the Runway’s stock of designer duds is not a petri dish of contagion, as the company clarified in an email to customers on Wednesday.
The PSA details the company’s cleaning processes and shares useful information, such as the Harvard Medical School’s assertion that there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted via fabrics or carpets. This comes as a slew of misinformation is widely circulating on social media (don’t drink bleach!) and news reports indicate that the prepper mindset is upon us. If you’re still worried, just know that Rent the Runway all but murders their dresses and accessories.
The email informs readers that all garments are wet or dry cleaned, then everything is steamed at a minimum temperature of 248 degrees Fahrenheit–around 80 degrees hotter than the temperature required to kill flu viruses, they note, according to the CDC. (Naturally, “faux fur, select outerwear, leather and faux leather garments” aren’t steamed, but again, they clean them.) Sunglasses and jewelry are cleaned with alcohol and handbags with disinfectant. Does it not just lift your spirits and calm your anxiety to envision a Demellier London taupe faux snakeskin clutch slowly lowered into vat of Purell? It does for mine.
Unfortunately, the virus is impeding major gown-worthy occasions. On the other hand, online retailers are slammed, and people need props for their increasing output of social media content. The company declined to comment on how it expects the coronavirus to affect business, but a representative noted to Gizmodo that the company is “proactively” updating its site FAQs, which now include: “How are garments cleaned, including to prevent the spread of viruses such as COVID-19?”
Now you know.
Here’s the announcement, in full:
Dear RTR Customers -
In light of developments regarding COVID-19, we want to proactively provide details and additional transparency around our cleaning processes.
First, according to Harvard Health, there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted from soft surfaces like fabric or carpet to humans. In addition, our cleaning agents and practices are designed to kill viruses such as the common cold and flu. While scientific information is still developing, we have no reason to believe that our processes are ineffective against COVID-19.
The teams in our fulfillment centers will continue to use a variety of techniques to ensure that each garment is thoroughly cleaned, steamed and pressed, inspected for quality, and carefully packaged so that it arrives ready to wear. All garments go through a wet or dry cleaning process. They also go through an additional steaming process which heats items to between 248°F and 302°F with the exception of faux fur, select outerwear, leather and faux leather garments, which still go through our standard cleaning processes. According to the CDC, flu viruses are killed by heat above 167°F. Every garment is then enclosed in plastic for protection and cleanliness, which we ask customers to return for recycling.
In addition, all of our reusable garment bags and accessories are thoroughly cleaned after every use. Sunglasses and jewelry are cleaned with alcohol, and handbags and accessories packaging are cleaned with disinfectant after they are returned to us.
Our customers have always been our number one priority. We will continue to monitor the data and recommendations from the CDC and WHO and update our practices as needed. Please visit our FAQs for any additional questions.