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So a while back, while my mom and I were moving out of our last place, I may have stowed a bunch of stuff from the attic away in plastic trash bags, as the attic was apparently insulated with asbestos, and I was worried some might’ve gotten into them.

Among these were 2 Australian flag baking aprons and one old fluffy Santa hat.

Now, just a little while ago, I tried putting them in the washer at my apartment, thinking it aught time to finally clean them off. What I didn’t realize at the time was that apparently this can get the asbestos into the washing machine and possibly the water.

I don’t know if I have the money to replace this. I’ve wiped the whole inside of the thing down as much as I can without dissembling it using a wet cloth and stored everything in plastic bags.

Is there any way for me to decontaminate my machine, or flush out the particles?

Note: I haven’t run them through the dryer yet. It’s just the washer that got used.

Note 2: I don’t actually know if there’s any asbestos on the garments, but apparently asbestos attic insulation can break down into asbestos dust via natural wear and tear, so I’m just assuming they are.

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  • Did the bags have holes in them? Or did you tip the clothes out in the attic on to the insulation to sort them? If they stayed sealed in the bag there should not be a problem. – Solar Mike Jun 22 '20 at 4:58
  • What makes you think the attic was insulated with asbestos? – Jim Stewart Jun 22 '20 at 12:40
  • "so I’m just assuming they are" a reasonable assumption. The essentially 1-time exposure, though probably isn't an issue as Jimmy Fix-it noted. How did you get the clothes out of the bag? Did you tip it into the washer and shake the bag out over the washer? Did you put the bag on the carpet and pull the items out? Did you take the bag outside, pull the items out, then put the bag directly in the bin? In any case, you have limited exposure with limited but not zero chances of anything bad happening to you. – FreeMan Jun 22 '20 at 14:47
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I wouldn't worry so much about it. Wipe it down as best you can and then run a few empty cycles to flush the machine. The wastewater goes... well assuming you are in a relatively modern area with relatively modern infrastructure... to a treatment plant along with myriad other nasty stuff.

While it is true that any exposure to friable asbestos should be avoided, data shows that the real risk is chronic (i.e. prolonged) exposure as would occur in industrial or job-specific exposure scenarios.

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    I Agree with Jim on this (and a lot of other stuff). Incidental exposure has never really been a problem and you did have the items in plastic bags.+ – JACK Jun 22 '20 at 1:06
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Professional Asbestos removal requires Specialized laundry service and showers for employees nowadays. Throwing your garments away is your best bet. Washing ALONE is probably your second, preferably NOT in your home washer. Don't wash with other garments. At this point it's all about risk. There is NO guarantee that your washer has indeed rinsed out all of the asbestos. Has it rinsed out most? Maybe, and with time may rinse further. But I can only tell you that Asbestos is treated like radioactive material by professionals, who DO NOT wear the same clothes when they go home.

Asbestos is mostly dangerous once it 1. is disturbed 2. is airborne and can enter the lungs.

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  • All very true statements that apply to professionals who are exposed to asbestos every. single. day. For a 1-time exposure where the clothes themselves probably weren't exposed to asbestos dust (just the outer plastic bag), it's probably excessive. – FreeMan Jun 22 '20 at 14:43

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