There have been no documented cases of transmission of the novel coronavirus via clothing and shoes at this point.
If you are taking care of or frequently in close proximity to an individual with COVID-19, doing laundry often is an essential part of preventive hygiene.
This includes, in particular, high risk individuals such as healthcare workers.
Most household detergents are sufficient to kill the virus when doing laundry.
Clothes are low risk
“There’s a lot we don’t know about this virus, and we are learning more about it every day. But this is our current understanding: If you are out for a run in your neighborhood or making a quick visit to the grocery store, it is highly unlikely that you would contract COVID-19 via your clothes or shoes. We don’t believe shoes or clothing are a significant source of transmission,” Dr. Vincent Hsu, MPH, a board-certified internal medicine, infectious diseases, and preventive medicine physician at AdventHealth in Orlando, told Healthline.
According to Hsu, there have been no documented cases of transmission of the novel coronavirus via clothing and shoes at this point.
COVID-19, the flu-like respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus, is spread by respiratory droplets. Coughing and sneezing by an infected individual in close proximity to another person are the most likely means of direct transmission.
However, we do know that the novel coronavirus is capable of surviving outside the human body on different surfaces, which can result in transmission if touched.
Depending on the type of surface, experts estimate that the virus can survive for just a few hours up to a few days.
While metal and plastic can provide a haven for the virus for up to 2 to 3 days, clothing is not considered a material conducive to its survival.
“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.
Humidity and moisture play a significant environmental role in whether or not a virus can thrive. The nature of most cloth materials is not conducive to this.
“Clothing is usually more of a mesh than a hard surface, which could potentially aerate the environment more readily,” said Jordan.
Transfer of the virus via clothing is unlikely, but the experts interviewed by Healthline agreed there are a few scenarios in which immediate laundering is a good idea.
Medical reference: Healthline