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Can Covid-19 Live on Your Clothes and Shoes?


Right now, we’re all doing our best to practice social distancing and stop the spread of the COVID-19. Even though we’re staying indoors for the most part, we want to make sure we’re taking all the preventative measures to ensure that we’re not tracking germs into our home. 

If you’re wondering whether or not COVID-19 can live on your clothes and shoes, you’re not the only one. Since some of us are still going to grocery stores, it’s normal to be worried. However, experts say that there needn’t be too much anxiety about whether you’re tracking the virus into your house on your clothes and shoes.

Results from a recent CDC study do suggest that COVID-19 can live on the soles of shoes, but they only tested medical staff working in hospitals where they were treating COVID patients. In this situation, they found traces of SARS-CoV-2, the virus strain that causes COVID-19, on the soles of 50 percent of the shoes they tested.

Experts maintain that despite these results, shoes are an unlikely source of virus transmission, since we don’t typically come into contact with the germs underneath our shoes. In other words, we don’t typically touch the bottoms of our shoes or put them near our faces where the virus can enter. We are also a lot less likely to be in contact with COVID-19 than people working in hospitals.

However, if you are a medical worker, live near a hospital, or are living with or caring for someone who has COVID-19, it might be safer to disinfect the soles of your shoes and/or leave them at the door before coming inside. 

As of now, studies are lacking in regards to whether the virus can live on clothing. However, what we do know is that viruses like the flu aren’t often transmitted through clothing because flu-carrying droplets evaporate from fabric faster. COVID-19 also spreads through respiratory droplets and so far, we know it can live on surfaces outside of the human body for anywhere between a few hours to a few days, depending on the type of surface.

On hard surfaces like plastic and metal, it can survive for up to two to three days. But, experts say it’s not likely to survive on a softer surface like clothing for very long. “Our best studies in this area are with influenza and other previously known viruses, but clothing in general is not thought to be the best incubator of viruses,” Dr. Kathleen Jordan, an infectious disease specialist and vice president at CommonSpirit Health, told Healthline. According to Jordan, this could be because clothing is an aerated mesh, as opposed to a solid, hard surface.

That being said, there are circumstances where it’s probably safer to wash clothing more frequently. Again, if you’re living or caring for someone with COVID-19 or you’re a healthcare worker, try to wear fresh clean clothes everyday and to do laundry as often as possible. While a regular grocery store trip will probably not get COVID-19 germs on your clothes, if you’re not able to practice safe social distancing or someone sneezes or coughs in your vicinity, it’s a good idea to wash those clothes as soon as possible. Most household laundry detergents are suitable for killing the virus.

COVID-19 may be able to survive on clothes and shoes, but it’s not something you should worry too much about unless you’re a healthcare worker or are caring for someone with the virus. We encourage you to continue practicing social distancing and following the personal hygiene guidelines provided by the CDC to keep yourself and your family safe and healthy. 

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