While many of us are spending a majority of our time at home, the occasional outing to get groceries, medicine and other supplies is still necessary, leading to questions of how to protect ourselves while out among others. And while it is good to act with an abundance of caution — wearing masks, gloves, and thouroughly washing your hands often — how far should we be going to avoid getting sick?
A common question many people have is whether it is necessary to wash your clothes and take a shower after you've been out of your house, the assumption being that the virus can stick to your clothes and hair if you're exposed to it. Rest assured, this is not the case.
Reassuringly, experts say that showering and changing clothes is an unnecessary step to protect yourself from COVID-19 and, if you've found yourself doing this, you can eliminate it from your sanitation regimine. This is because the respitory droplets that hang in the air for up to 30 minutes when somebody breathes, sneezes or coughs, are too small to actually stick to your clothes and hair. Any droplets that are big enough to do so will most likely end up on the floor, unless somebody coughs or sneezes directly on you. Only in that case is it recommended to wash your clothes and your body to avoid the virus.
It's also been noted in past studies of SARS, another form of coronavirus, that the absorbant nature of fabrics and papers tends to dry out the virus and kill it within three to 24 hours of contact, depending on the amount the materials are exposed to. This leaves little worry that the virus can be carried home on clothes, packages or newspapers. But, if you find yourself wary of handling packages, let them sit for a day to make sure any potential viruses are gone.
Above all else, stick to these tried-and-true practices to avoid getting sick:
- Wash your hands thouroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
- Wear a mask or face covering when in public.
- Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose, mouth and ears.
- Practice social distancing and only leave home to restock on essentials.