Groceries, Clothing Carry Low Risk of Transmitting COVID-19, Expert Says

NBCUniversal, Inc.

As North Texas residents practice social distancing, wipe down their groceries and work from home, some wonder if the new coronavirus can be transmitted through clothing or other household items.

While some may worry they could track COVID-19 into their home after a trip to the grocery store or to pickup takeout, one expert says the odds are slim.

"It would be very unlikely that someone got it on clothes and then you touched the clothes, touched the nose and it get into the lungs," said Dr. Daniel Barbaro, an infectious disease expert in Fort Worth. "There's something called a viral inoculum. You need to have a certain amount of virus to cause an actual infection in the lungs."

Coronavirus Pandemic

Full coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it impacts you

Data Reveals New Details in What Pent-Up Travel Demand Looks Like

What is Missing Via Virtual Learning? Eye Contact

Barbaro said the biggest risk would come from a sick person coughing or sneezing on another person. But what if the virus got on an individual's clothing or shoes?

"If you have washable shoes, fine you can wash them, it's not going to change anything," he said. "The likelihood of a virus coming off the shoe, causing infection is out of the ordianary, so I wouldn't worry about that scenario."

The chances of catching the virus while outdoors is, likewise, low, as long as people practice social distancing guidelines, Barbaro said.

Other things that pose a low risk for contracting COVID-19, according to Barbaro: dirty laundry and groceries. The exception would be clothing or bedding that someone with the coronavirus has used.

"If you're worried about it, you can wash your own hands," Barbaro said. "I wouldn't have to say you have wash the paper bag or whatever container, but you should wash your hands."

Contact Us