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Sunday, December 05, 2021

Explained: For how long can the virus in this outbreak survive on clothes?

Studies have looked at how long the virus can survive on various surfaces — plastic, steel, cardboard — and even in the air, but none has looked at fabric yet.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: April 1, 2020 2:27:23 pm
Explained: For how long can virus in this outbreak survive on clothes? Cloth used as protection in a cafe in Australia. (Reuters Photo)

Does the novel coronavirus survive on your clothes, and if so, for how long? The answer to the first question is that it probably does survive, but it is not clear for how long.

Studies have looked at how long the virus can survive on various surfaces — plastic, steel, cardboard — and even in the air, but none has looked at fabric yet.

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Most viruses, however, have been known to survive longer on nonporous surfaces such as steel, than on porous ones such as cardboard. And fabric is porous. A good thing about porous surfaces is that they tend to trap the virus, making it tougher to transmit than it would have from, say, plastic.

In any case, it is imperative to keep clothes clean. “There are no advisories for clothes. WHO (World Health Organization) guidelines say do laundry at 60-90°C for linen. We believe detergents can kill the virus,” said Dr Tanu Singhal, infectious disease expert. “But no data is available for coronavirus. Care should be taken to wash clothes of infected people separately.”

Explained: For how long can virus in this outbreak survive on clothes? Source: New England Journal of Medicine

The Health Ministry advises on its website: “Clean clothes, bedclothes, bath and hand towels, etc. of ill persons using regular laundry soap and water or machine wash at 60-90°C with common household detergent. Dry it thoroughly. Place contaminated linen into a laundry bag. Do not shake soiled laundry and avoid direct contact with the skin and clothes with the contaminated materials.”

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About masks, it advises: “If using cloth masks, wash them at least daily.”

Here’s a quick Coronavirus guide from Express Explained to keep you updated: What can cause a COVID-19 patient to relapse after recovery? | COVID-19 lockdown has cleaned up the air, but this may not be good news. Here’s why | Can alternative medicine work against the coronavirus? | A five-minute test for COVID-19 has been readied, India may get it too | How India is building up defence during lockdown | Why only a fraction of those with coronavirus suffer acutely | How do healthcare workers protect themselves from getting infected? | What does it take to set up isolation wards?

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