There is no exact information on how long the coronavirus stays on clothes or fabric but studies suggest that it may possibly live for up to 24 hours. This is due to the fact that clothing items usually have plastic and metal parts in them like buttons and accessories. 

Based on the research that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the COVID-19 virus can remain in the air for up to three hours, plastic and stainless for three days, copper for four hours and cardboard for up to 24 hours. Clothing is not on the list but as mentioned before, accessories on clothes are usually made of plastic and metals so the virus can live on those small items even if the droplets did not land on fabric through the air.  

In the opinion of infectious disease experts, there is still a chance that the coronavirus can settle on the fabric but they can also fly off into the air with movement. Thus, there is not much to worry about when running an essential errand like grocery shopping because only a few viruses could have managed to stay on the fabric.   

“We do know that viruses can deposit on clothing (from droplets) and then be shaken loose into the air with movement, but you would need a lot of viruses for this to be a concern, far more than a typical person would encounter while going for a walk outdoors or going to a grocery store,” The New York Times quoted Dr. Linsey Marr, an aerosol scientist at Virginia Tech, as saying.  

But whether the COVID-19 virus stays on clothes for a long time or not, it is still better to be careful and take measures to ensure that you will not get infected or bring the virus at home.  Washing and disinfecting will protect anyone from coronavirus so here is the proper way to wash clothes and get rid of any harmful microorganisms, as per UNICEF

Firstly, refrain from shaking or dusting the laundry to reduce the possibility of spreading the virus to the air. Simply wash the clothes with soap or detergent and use the warmest appropriate water setting. Heat is known to kill COVID-19 so using warm water is effective in eliminating them. 

The next step is to dry the clothes completely and then wash the hands with soap and water. Apply sanitizer or alcohol as well to disinfect since the person who washed the clothes could have gotten the virus somehow.  

Take note that coronavirus is vulnerable to soap so washing the clothes as you normally would is enough to remove and kill COVID-19 if it is indeed present in the clothes. Finally, make it a habit to remove all pieces of clothing when returning home and wash them immediately. 

Washing clothes A woman washes clothes at a public laundry backyard in the La Loma neighborhood in Quito, February 17, 2016. REUTERS/Guillermo Granja