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Here�s How Long The Coronavirus Stays On Your Clothes & This Is How It Can Be Washed Off


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With the number of confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus crossing well over 160 (166 to be exact, at the time of writing this article), most people in India are preparing for self-isolation for the next few days, if not weeks. 

how long does coronavirus stay on clothes and how to wash them © iStock

People have various concerns about the deadly virus, that has crippled the day-to-day lives of all of us, such as how long does the virus survive in different conditions, how long does it stay in the air, and can the virus be caught from different surfaces and so on.

Well, it seems that we have some answers, although, they aren't exactly as clear as we would have wanted them to be.

how long does coronavirus stay on clothes and how to wash them © iStock

The World Health Organisationâs official stance is rather vaguely worded and has a very broad scope, for understandably obvious reasons. Their website says that the virus âmay persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days...under different conditions.â The website stays silent on what exactly are the conditions, and for exactly how long does the virus survive.

The New York Times newspaper studied a paper that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which went in great detail about the surface stability of the virus on different surfaces.

how long does coronavirus stay on clothes and how to wash them © iStock

The study claims that the deadly virus survives the longest on all forms of plastic, and all metals, barring copper. As per the study, if the conditions are conducive, the virus may survive on hard surfaces like those on plastic and metal for about 72 hours or 3 days. That being said, the virus grows less viable by the hour, over the course of 72 hours.

The virus survives for considerably lesser hours when it is on softer surfaces such as cardboard. Surprisingly, on copper it survives for just four hours. 

how long does coronavirus stay on clothes and how to wash them © iStock

One interesting fact that the NYT article pointed out is that although many experts have repeatedly said that the virus does not spread through the air, the study claims that in aerosol form, or tiny droplets that may get suspended in the air when someone sneezes or coughs without covering their mouths, it can stay up for half an hour. Although the chances of someone getting infected through the virus when it is in the air is slim, medical professionals and people who are taking care of coronavirus patients still need to be careful.

how long does coronavirus stay on clothes and how to wash them © iStock

According to a different article published by the Harvard Health Publishing of the Harvard Medical School, the virus, like most other forms of the coronavirus does not survive for long when they are on a softer surface, like fabric.

how long does coronavirus stay on clothes and how to wash them © iStock

However, there has been very little research on the virusâs behaviour with fabrics, this strain is showing a lot of similarities with the other strains of the virus. By a thorough and a well worked out calculation, it is being estimated that the virus should not last on light fabrics for more than 3 to 4 hours.

Having said that, since there is no proper and extensive research on the subject, many experts are suggesting that we be extremely careful and cautious. The American body CDC or the Centre of Disease Control & Prevention has put up an advisory on how people who need to deal with patients should deal with their clothes.

how long does coronavirus stay on clothes and how to wash them © iStock

First and foremost, if you have been near a patient or are a medical professional, wear a mask and disposable gloves when youâre handling the clothes. If you have a family member who is showing the symptoms of the virus, it is imperative that you wear a mask and disposable gloves when handling their clothes.

Secondly, under no circumstances should you shake the clothes or beat the clothes vigorously, before they have been put in the machine. Wash the clothes at the highest temperature of water that the fabric allows.

Wash using regular detergents and softeners, you donât need anything special for that. 

how long does coronavirus stay on clothes and how to wash them © iStock

Third, get them to dry in sun. Avoid your machineâs dryer function as they already are a cesspool of germs, unless you get them washed & disinfected regularly.

how long does coronavirus stay on clothes and how to wash them © iStock

There are a few other things that you need to keep mind. If you use a laundry basket or a bucket to store your clothes before they are washed, disinfect them regularly.

Also, if ever you get some bodily fluid on your clothes (blood, phlegm, saliva, or anything for that matter) get changed immediately, and straight away wash your clothes.

how long does coronavirus stay on clothes and how to wash them © iStock

As testing as these times are, this is not the end of the world as we know it. Just stay alert and cautious and things should be fine.


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