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Can You Bring COVID-19 Home Through Clothes and Shoes?

 It’s okay to be suspicious of your surroundings these days, especially when it comes to commonly used items like your smartphone, the car keys, door handles and shopping carts. This is because SARS-CoV-2 can survive for days on hard surfaces, and it’s easier to disinfect them than leave your own health to chance. However, clothes and shoes are somewhat different, as they are made of soft and porous materials. Should you be concerned about your clothes and shoes? Do they have the potential of harboring the Novel Coronavirus? For a thorough explanation, carry on reading.

How Likely Is the Virus to Survive on Clothes?

COVID-19 Clothes and Shoes woman in a mask
The good news is - there have been no recorded cases where a person was infected by the Novel Coronavirus through clothing at this point. This makes sense and is consistent with what scientists know about viruses. This is because viruses need moisture to survive, which makes textiles a very inhospitable environment for them, as these materials are porous and tend to absorb water into their fibers.
Still, most of the tests conducted on this topic were done on other viruses, mainly influenza, and we already know that the Coronavirus lasts on certain surfaces longer than other viruses. It can also remain active in the air for hours, and so the potential for transmission through clothing and shoes is not ruled out completely.
The truth is, you’re very unlikely to get the virus if you’re following the social distancing rules and only go outside to buy essential grocery items and medications.

When Should You Worry About Clothes and the Coronavirus?

COVID-19 Clothes and Shoes man in mask shopping for bread
There are several scenarios in which you should take extra care of your clothes after going outside. These situations include:
  • If you’re a doctor or other medical worker and you work with or in close proximity to COVID-19 patients.
  • While at the supermarket or picking up groceries, you didn’t manage to maintain a distance of 2-3 meters (6-8 ft) from others.
  • Someone sneezed or coughed near you while you were outside.

In these cases, you should put the clothing you have worn directly into the washing machine and clean them immediately. Experts assure that regular detergents will be capable of killing the virus, but to learn more about disinfecting your clothes with COVID-19 in mind, consider reading the article Safe Laundry Instructions from Healthcare Experts.

What About My Shoes?

Shoes are a bit trickier than clothes are, and there are two reasons why. The first reason is that they can be made of artificial or natural leather, rubber, and water-resistant fabrics, which may be a better environment for the Coronavirus. As for the second reason, we know that shoes can spread germs since they typically carry more dirt than clothing and bags.
COVID-19 Clothes and Shoes shoes

Still, doctors consider shoes a low-risk item, and that’s because we rarely make face contact with our shoes, why would we? Similarly, most people wouldn’t put their shoes on a table or the kitchen counter either, from which germs could potentially travel to your mouth through food. If, however, you have kids or pets at home, and you worry about them not being careful enough with handling shoes, follow these tips:

1. Clean your shoes with alcohol wipes or soap and water after using them.

2. Leave your shoes at the door, in your garage, or let them air out on the porch. It is also a good idea to do so with clothing you don’t wash often, such as raincoats, winter jackets and hats.
This way, you’re creating a separate designated location for items you only use when you’re outdoors that could potentially carry germs, and you're minimizing even the slightest risk of contracting the virus.
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