Can coronavirus live on your clothes and shoes? Here's what we know right now
Should you leave your shoes outside and immediately wash your clothes when you get home? We answer these questions and more.
Katie TeagueWriter II
Katie is a writer covering all things how-to at CNET, with a focus on Social Security and notable events. When she's not writing, she enjoys playing in golf scrambles, practicing yoga and spending time on the lake.
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Surfaces contaminated with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can infect a person who touches them and then touches their face. The coronavirus can also spread from person to person via respiratory droplets from a sneeze or cough, and scientists are studying the possibility of the coronavirus being airborne, lingering in the air you breathe, especially when indoors.
"So far, evidence suggests that the virus does not survive as well on a soft surface (such as fabric) as it does on frequently touched hard surfaces," reported Johns Hopkins Medicine.
On the other hand, health care providers and others in high contact with people presumed to have acquired with the coronavirus may be advised to leave their work clothes and shoes outside until they can be sanitized.
"The likelihood of COVID-19 being spread on shoes and infecting individuals is very low," according to the WHO." The organization added that that people should consider leaving their shoes outside as a precautionary measure.
With that said, if you believe you may have come into contact with the virus, or you just want to be cautious, here's what you need to know. Note that this article provides information drawn from the CDC and offers an overview of what we currently know. Recommendations may change over time in light of new research and developments. This story updates often.
Do I need to wash my clothes when I get home?
After you come home from the grocery store, you don't have to change out of your clothes -- especially if you kept a six-foot distance from others at the store. It is recommended that you wash your hands, though. However, if you work at a health care facility around COVID-19 patients or think you've been exposed to the virus, it's best to take additional precautions and launder your clothes when you get home.
You may be wondering if it's safe to wear your shoes into your house after going to the grocery store or other public places. A new study conducted by the CDC at Wuhan hospitals suggests the virus can survive on shoe soles, however, it isn't clear if the droplets were still infectious. However, Johns Hopkins University has clarified that the surviving proportion of the virus is less than 0.1% of the initial amount of viral material.
The Cleveland Clinic says that while it's possible for the virus to live on your shoes, it's very unlikely for it to be transmitted to you unless you directly touch the infected area and then touch your face.
If you think you encountered someone or a surface that was infected with the
, remove your shoes before walking into your home and then wash your hands immediately. You'll want to spray the shoes with a disinfectant before bringing them inside.
What if my clothing label says to use cold water or line dry only?
While the CDC suggests you should use the warmest appropriate water setting and dry items completely, your clothing label may say otherwise. If the laundry instructions on your clothes say to wash in cold water or line dry only, you should. Since the coronavirus is surrounded by a layer of fatty membrane, your detergent alone should be able to kill the virus. If you're still worried about whether or not the virus survived the wash, however, you can put your clothes in a bag for several days to let the virus die naturally.
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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.