How long does coronavirus live on clothes and skin?

Updated: Mar. 26, 2020 at 10:53 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - How long does the coronavirus live on your clothes and your skin?

Dr. Michelle Tarbox is a Dermatologist at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center.

That’s one of the questions I asked her today when we Face-timed at her house.

She said this about the coronavirus, “The thing it loves the most is smooth surfaces. It likes things that don’t have a lot of texture and irregularities. So, we’re thinking stainless steel. Plastic is the number one surface it loves to adhere to, which is bad news for us that love to carry our phones around. And it would be pretty easy to stick to those laminated desk tops or table tops.” On the other hand, she says the virus does not like porous surfaces because it can’t stick as well to those. She explains, "So the best guess-timate we have, as far as these viruses are able to stay on skin, clothes, and fabrics of other types, is between several hours and up to one day. And it’s frustrating to have such a wide estimate but it’s because we still don’t know so much about this virus.

Dr. Tarbox says at least we have good information from the National Institutes of Health on what the coronavirus does when it falls onto cardboard. She says that’s important information right now as more people are turning to online orders instead of leaving their homes to shop. She explains, “The good news is on cardboard, the virus only persists for about 24 hours because cardboard is a porous surface so the virus dehydrates more quickly and becomes less infectious.” So she says we shouldn’t worry about the person who packs a box far away to send to our address. But she adds there is more of a concern about the person in Lubbock who brings the box to our doorstep.

Watch the face time interview with Dr. Tarbox for more on decluttering our house for safety reasons and handling bed sheets properly when caring for a sick person in the house.

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