A new study has revealed that the virus that causes COVID-19 can remain on fabric, such as clothing or upholstery, for up to three days.
Among polyester, a polycotton blend, and 100% cotton fabrics, polyester presented the highest risk, even after 72 hours; In whole cotton samples, the virus lasted for a day, while the polycotton blend remained contaminated by viral droplets, designed to mimic human saliva, for only six hours.
The groundbreaking finding could be especially dangerous when it comes to the clothing healthcare workers wear, said Dr. Katie Laird, a microbiologist and study author.
If not washed frequently, the fabrics could help spread the virus from one patient to another.
“When the pandemic started, very little was known about how long the coronavirus could survive in textiles,” said Dr Laird, lead researcher in infectious diseases at De Montfort University in Leicester, UK.
“Our findings show that three of the most commonly used textiles in health care pose a risk of virus transmission,” he continued in an interview for the university’s news site. “If the nurses and health workers take the uniforms home, they could be leaving traces of the virus on other surfaces.”
In terms of disinfection, the researchers also found that soap and scorching hot water, at least 153 degrees Fahrenheit (67 degrees Celsius), were required to effectively clean the 100% cotton fabric, which is commonly used for staff uniforms. doctor.
Normal household washing machines generally only go about 130 degrees on their hottest setting.
The findings suggest that hospital staff should refrain from wearing their uniforms at home, according to Dr. Laird, whose study has been submitted to a research journal for publication, pending peer review.
“This research has reinforced my recommendation that all healthcare uniforms should be laundered at the hospital site or in an industrial laundry,” he said. “These washing methods are regulated and nurses and healthcare workers don’t have to worry about taking the virus home with them.”