Can Coronavirus Spread through Infected Clothes and Shoes?

People are doing everything they can to protect themselves from the virus but a common concern persists: how does one keep the virus from infecting the place you live in? Can this coronavirus in clothes or shoes infect you?

Under social distancing precautions, people are only advised to make limited trips out of their homes, for things like groceries or other essential things people need for surviving at home.

Precautionary measures like washing your hands often, disinfecting areas that are in contact with the outside world like doorknobs and surfaces like countertops where groceries coming from outside are placed; are all reassuring activities until you think whether or not the things you brought home are safe.

Plastic bags, groceries, clothes how much of what you brought home is really safe, is the persistent question. You will inevitably come home in the clothes and shoes you wear to the outside world, they may even come in contact with the virus.

To ease your worries and concerns, here’s what is sufficiently known about the transmission of COVID-19 through clothes and shoes that you wear outside.

Experts like  Dr. Vincent Hsu, MPH, a board-certified internal medicine, infectious diseases, and preventive medicine physician at AdventHealth in Orlando, say that though the virus is not fully understood or known yet, there’s a lot researchers are trying to learn and find out.

Each day new findings are surfacing to aid our understanding of the novel coronavirus and according to the understanding experts have developed thus far if people go on grocery rounds and run errands in their neighborhood, coronavirus in clothes is not a viable concern, says Dr. Vincent, he adds coronavirus in shoes is also not a possibility to fear because these articles are not important sources of transmission.

To support this claim no documented evidence exists to say that coronavirus had infected people through clothing and shoes. For the time being this makes transmission through articles of clothing less of a concern.

At the same time, however, it is well known that the SARS-CoV-2, a virus capable of causing symptoms similar to the common cold is spread via respiratory droplets. A direct medium of transmission for the novel coronavirus is through sneezing and coughing. A healthy individual can contract the virus if an infected individual coughs or sneezes at them.

At the same time, however, it is common knowledge that the virus is capable of living on different surfaces besides the human body for different time periods. Touching such surfaces can possibly transmit the virus to susceptible people.

Anywhere from a few hours to a few days, the virus can live on different surfaces, confirm experts.

The longest a virus can live on a common material is supposedly on metal and plastic. The time period of survival being 2 or 3 days. In comparison, clothing material is not a viable means for spread.

Dr. Kathleen Jordan, an infectious disease specialist and vice president at CommonSpirit Health, confirms saying one of the best reliable studies in viral infective diseases suggest that clothing materials do not harbor viruses long enough to be a cause for concern.

It is thoroughly advised by health experts and researchers to keep a laundry schedule in check.

If you are in frequent contact with an individual suffering from COVID-19, doing your laundry should be a prioritized aspect of your routine. As a precautionary measure and for good hygiene one should not skip washing their clothes including those they wear outdoors.

Healthcare workers are at high risk at this time, they are advised to particularly adhere to this advice as they have constant contact with the virus.

Washing your clothes at home in order to disinfect them would not require any intense effort as household laundry detergents are able to kill the virus. There is a special list offered by EPA for effective products if you wish to be more cautious and want to rid any coronavirus in clothes.


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