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The Unexpected Way Coronavirus Is Hurting Rent the Runway and Other Rental Services

Rental services’ cleaning practices have come into question amid the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

In an email to subscribers yesterday, monthly subscription platform Rent the Runway attempt to assuage customers’ concerns over its garment-cleaning processes. The company, which rents out women’s apparel and accessories, wrote that its cleaning agents are designed to kill viruses such as the common cold and the flu.

“While scientific information is still developing, we have no reason to believe that our processes are ineffective against COVID-19,” the email read. “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.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu viruses are killed in temperatures above 167°F. Rent the Runway explained that all of its merchandise undergoes a wet or dry cleaning process as well as additional steaming, which heats items to between 248°F and 302°F.

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Faux fur items, select outerwear and leather garments are excluded from the steaming process but still undergo the company’s “standard cleaning” practices. It added that jewelry and sunglasses are cleaned with alcohol, while handbags and accessories are cleaned with disinfectant.

Rent the Runway’s pieces are then enclosed in plastic, and garment bags are “thoroughly cleaned” after each use, the company said.

As of Thursday morning, more than 96,000 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed, and 3,300 people have died. Many Americans, including stock market investors, have expressed worries about the continued spread of the outbreak to more communities in the United States, while retailers and brands have lamented the illness’ potential impact on businesses and supply chains.

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