Experts Weigh In On the Danger of Coronavirus on Shoes, Clothes, Hair and More

Coronavirus is on everyone’s mind. Even a quick trip to the grocery store can feel like a dangerous expedition. Many people have questions about how to go to the store, get what they need and come home again without brining the virus with them.

We’ve already shared important information about how to shop safely when you’re at a grocery store or pharmacy and how to ensure the coronavirus isn’t on your groceries once you get home. Now, we’d like to share just how concerned you need to be about bringing the virus into your home on your clothes, shoes or hair.

Of course you wash your hands when you get home. That is key, but should you also take a shower, wash your clothes and wash your hair? 

First, we need to understand aerodynamics and how the coronavirus is transferred. Linsey Marr, an aerosol scientist at Virginia Tech, explained the specifics to The New York Times.

“As we move, we push air out of the way, and most of the droplets and particles get pushed out of the way, too. Someone would have to spray large droplets through talking — a spit talker — coughing or sneezing for them to land on our clothes. The droplets have to be large enough that they don’t follow the streamlines.”

Basically, droplets containing any virus would probably just pass right by you in the air and not land on your clothes or your hair. Unless you are caring for someone who is sick or unless someone coughed on you while you were at the store, you don’t need to take a shower and wash your clothes.

If you are an essential worker, especially if you are in the healthcare industry and working with COVID-19 patients, it’s a good idea to change your clothes when you get home and wash them in hot water. It’s also a good idea to leave your shoes at the door and take a hot shower.

 According to the CDC, the coronavirus can be transferred on shoes. In a study of healthcare workers in Wuhan, China, the virus was found on their shoes, but they were healthcare workers. How concerned should the rest of us be about our shoes?

Dr. Joseph Allen, professor of exposure assessment science at the Harvard School of Public Health, says, “The general public shouldn’t be worried about tracking the virus in on the bottom of their shoes.” What we really need to do is wash our hands, wear protective masks and practice social distancing.

If you are a health care worker, and if you have shoes that can handle the washing machine, wash them. If not, if they can handle a disinfecting spray do that instead. If you’re running to the grocery store, and if you want to keep your home extra clean, leaving your shoes at the door is always a good idea.

What about the mail? Could the virus be lurking on your packages and envelopes? If you’re really concerned, you can throw boxes and envelopes away. Be sure to wash your hands after touching them. If you want to be extra cautious, just wait 24 hours before checking the mail or bringing boxes inside. The virus will be dead by then.

The best advice doctors offer is to wash your hands.