Leave Shoes Outside and Clean Them Well to Avoid Possible COVID-19 Transmission

BY Robert Jay Watson TIMEMarch 30, 2020 PRINT

Washing your hands with soap and water is a sure-fire method to keep the CCP virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, away—but what about your shoes? Public health experts are raising the concern of bringing the virus into your house on your shoes.

This comes after a study in the New England Journal of Medicine published on March 17, 2020, showed that the coronavirus virus could survive in significant concentrations for up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. While there is no evidence yet of any shoe-to-person transmission of the coronavirus, the fact that the virus can survive for such a long time on plastic suggests caution.

The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.

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The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases noted that the study reveals the importance of symptomatic people self-isolating as well as the need to “[c]lean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.”

When it comes to aerosol exposure from an infected person coughing or sneezing, the top of the shoe would likely be the most in the line of spray. Given that many shoes contain synthetic materials, public health specialist Carol Winner told Huffington Post “that viruses deposited on shoes made of plastic could retain the active virus for a few days.”

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Businessmen perform a footshake, tapping their shoes against each other on March 18, 2020, in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, emergency room physician Cwanza Pinckney told HuffPost, “[t]he sole of the shoe is the breeding ground of more bacteria and fungi and viruses than the upper part of a shoe,” because it’s coming into more direct and sustained contact with everything that lives on the sidewalks and store floors.

What should those who still have to go to work or go grocery shopping do to protect themselves?

Dr. Pinckney recommended “having a dedicated pair of shoes to go out in and then a clean pair to change into before entering the house.” She noted that doctors and nurses have long had the practice of changing shoes “before getting in the car and going home.”

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When it comes to cleaning shoes, healthcare experts have lots of advice to share. While disinfectant sprays such as Lysol and Clorox can be effective, depending on the type of shoe, you have to be careful about damaging natural materials like leather.

“Wiping down your shoes is probably most effective when using an alcohol-based wipe,” suggested family doctor Georgine Nanos, per the HuffPost. If you’re dealing with sneakers or sports shoes, Nanos said that you can wash them in the washing machine with hot soap and water.

Of course, people should be careful in the process of cleaning shoes, since getting the virus on your hands and from there to your face is the biggest danger. Winner said you should try to “not track them throughout the house,” and instead leave them in the garage or entryway.

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(Illustration – Krasula/Shutterstock)

While it’s good to take precautions, shoes needn’t become a source of paranoia. Winner said, “Pragmatically, they are on the body part furthest from our face, and we do know that the greatest risk of transmission is person to person, not shoe to person.”

And of course, the best insurance against the virus is limiting trips out of the house, washing hands with soap and warm water regularly, and keeping distance between yourself and others. So at least for now, the “shoe bump,” which some suggested in place of a handshake, may have to give way to other greetings, such as India’s “namaste” with prayer hands.

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