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Rent the Runway tells customers it is cleaning its clothes


The fitting rooms at Rent the Runway’s flagship store in New York City.

Source: Rent the Runway

Rent the Runway is assuring its customers that its cleaning practices “are designed to kill viruses such as the common cold and flu,” in the midst of a deadly outbreak of a new type of coronavirus.

The clothing and accessories rental platform said in an email to users Wednesday afternoon that although scientific information is still developing, it has “no reason to believe” its cleaning practices are ineffective against COVID-19, which has taken at least 11 lives in the U.S.

The company rents out women’s clothing, such as dresses, blazers and denim, which is worn and then returned to be washed and worn again by other users. It also rents out accessories, like purses, and home goods, like pillows.

Rent the Runway is telling its customers “there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted from soft surfaces like fabric or carpet,” to people.

As the coronavirus spreads, sick people are being advised to stay home. Tips to stay healthy include remembering to frequently wash your hands in hot, soapy water and to avoid touching your face.

The outbreak is a new challenge for companies like Rent the Runway, which make up the so-called sharing economy. It may raise questions among consumers about who else has touched Rent the Runway’s clothes before, and have those items been properly cleared.

Rent the Runway explained that all of its merchandise, once returned, goes through either a wet or dry cleaning process.

The company explained in its memo to customers: “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.”

The company also said all of its accessories, including handbags, sunglasses and jewelry, are cleaned with alcohol and disinfectant.

Rent the Runway was named to CNBC’s 2019 Disruptor 50 list.

Here is the full memo sent to Rent the Runway sent 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.



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