Can coronavirus live on your clothes and shoes? Here’s what we know


Studies show that coronavirus can live on your shoe soles.
Sarah Tew / CNET

For the latest news and information on the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

Now that companies like retail stores and salons preparing to reopen this month in some states and countries, it’s important to know what precautions you can take to prevent the spread of coronavirus – as wearing a face mask, now social distancing and wash one’s hands frequently. And while you already know that you should be disinfect your home regularly, should you do the same with your clothes and shoes?

COVID-19 can spread from person to person, through respiratory droplets from a cough or sneeze, or by touching an infected (usually solid) surface and then touching your face. The virus can even live on certain surfaces more than nine days. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found Surviving coronavirus RNA in the Diamond Princess cruise ship 17 days after passenger departure.

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However, the likelihood that you will get the virus from your clothing is considered rare, especially since there is no evidence that the virus can survive on clothing. On the other hand, if you are a healthcare professional, it may be safer to leave your work clothes and shoes outside until they can be disinfected.

That said, if you think you may have been in contact with the virus, or if you just want to be careful, here is what you need to know. Note that this article provides information from the CDC and provides an overview of what we currently know. Recommendations may change over time in light of new research and developments. This story is updated often.

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Wash your clothes on the warmest setting, if possible.

Chris Monroe / CNET

Do I have to wash my clothes when I get home?

After coming home from the grocery store, you don’t have to undress – especially if you kept six feet away from others at the store. It is however recommended to wash your hands. However, if you work in a healthcare facility around COVID-19 patients or suspect that you have been exposed to the virus, it is best to take extra precautions and wash your clothes when you return home.

The CDC recommends that you do not shake your dirty laundry, as this may cause re-transmission of the coronavirus, although it is not certain whether it is infectious at this stage. Researchers are currently investigating whether the coronavirus can be grown from airborne RNA particles, reports the New York Times. Remember that the most likely form of transmission is known to people. So maybe don’t plan this dinner yet.

Should I leave my shoes outside?

You may be wondering if it is safe to wear your shoes in your home after going to the grocery store or other public places. A new study by the CDC in hospitals in Wuhan suggests that the virus can survive on the soles of shoes, however, they don’t know if the droplets are still infectious.

The Cleveland Clinic says that while the virus may live on your shoes, it is very unlikely that it will be transmitted to you unless you directly touch the infected area and then touch your face.

If you think you have encountered someone or a surface infected with a coronavirus, remove your shoes before entering your home, and wash your hands immediately. You will want to spray the shoes with a disinfectant before bringing them inside.


You can leave your shoes outside until they are disinfected.

Andrew Hoyle / CNET

What happens if my clothing label says to use only cold water or dry thread?

Although the CDC suggests that you should use the appropriate warmest water setting and dry the items completely, your clothing label may say otherwise. If the laundry instructions on your clothes say to wash in cold water or to 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. However, if you’re still wondering if the virus survived the wash, you can put your clothes in a bag for several days to let the virus die naturally.

While the country may be reopening, we still need to understand what it means for us. Here is 16 practical ways to stay safe when going out in public, what to do if you think you have the coronavirus and what to know wear homemade masks in public.

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The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended for medical or health advice. Always consult a doctor or other qualified health care professional for any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.


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