How long does coronavirus live on clothes?

Here's how to keep you wardrobe clean and disinfected.
/ Source: TODAY

The coronavirus already has people practicing social distancing, disinfecting their homes and making sure to clean all cell phone surfaces to prevent the spread of illness.

But what about cleaning clothes from coronavirus? Can germs live on them and, if so, for how long?

The World Health Organization says that it's not certain yet how long the coronavirus lives on surfaces, but preliminary information indicates that it may "persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days."

Harvard Health notes that the virus is more likely to survive on hard services than softer ones like clothing fabric. Still, doctors suggest removing shoes and changing into clean clothes to prevent outside germs from coming into your home.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests washing clothing items using the warmest appropriate water setting and making sure to dry them completely. Also, clean and disinfect hampers and use a disposable bag liner if possible.

Anyone handling dirty laundry from someone who is sick should wear disposable gloves and then throw them out after each use, the CDC says. Also, be sure to wash your hands afterward and avoid shaking dirty laundry to reduce the chances of dispersing the virus through the air.

If you're looking for a list of products, like sanitizing detergent to help disinfect your clothes, the CDC recommends this extensive list.

As for shopping for clothes and other items, large retailers like Walmart and Target have stressed increased cleaning protocols in their stores.

Target CEO Brian Cornell wrote in an open letter that the company has added hours to each location's payroll for extra cleaning on top of their daily cleaning procedures. They also have implemented cleaning checkout lanes and touch screens every 30 minutes.

Walmart announced it also has focused on regularly cleaning high-traffic areas and sanitizing shopping carts.

When it comes to renting clothes, companies are assuring customers that the items are cleaned with the aim of killing any viruses or germs.

Rent the Runway, which rents out women's clothing, sent an email to customers last week saying it has “no reason to believe” its cleaning practices are ineffective against the coronavirus.

The company said its cleaning process is designed to kill viruses like the common cold and flu and that all garments go through a wet or dry cleaning process. They are also steamed between 248 and 302 degrees Fahrenheit with the exception of certain items, which is above the 167 degrees that the CDC says kills flu viruses.

Rent the Runway also cleans sunglasses and jewelry with alcohol and disinfects handbags and accessories.

This story was originally published March 13, 2020.