While it is of the utmost importance to remain vigilant about washing your hands amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it is also important not to forget about another possible breeding ground for the virus -- your shoes.
Although there is no conclusive data on how long the virus can survive on footwear, some experts have noted it could live on your shoes for nearly a week.
Infectious disease specialist Mary E. Schmidt warns that the soles are of particular concern as the virus could stay viable on leather, rubber and PVC-based soles for more than five days, reported the Huffington Post UK.
Public health specialist Carol Winner echoed the sentiment based on previous research on the virus’ sustainability on plastic.
“We’ve learned from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases that coronavirus can remain active on some surfaces, like plastic, for up to two to three days,” Winner told the outlet. “This suggests that viruses deposited on shoes made of plastic could retain the active virus for a few days.”
As with your hands, disinfecting your footwear is the best option to killing coronavirus.
“Wiping down your shoes is probably most effective when using an alcohol-based wipe,” added family practitioner Georgine Nanos. “You can also wash your shoes on a short cycle in the washing machine, and use hot soap and water if you don’t have anything else to use.”
Another option is to limit the amount of shoes you wear in public when you have to go outside.
“I recommend having a dedicated pair of shoes to go out in and then a clean pair to change into before entering the house,” emergency physician Cwanza Pinckney told HuffPost. “Health care workers are always mindful to change shoes [and put work shoes in bags] before getting in the car and going home.”
For those with the space, it’s also advised to leave the shoes outside of your living area upon returning home.
“If you can leave them in your garage or in your entryway, that would be ideal, as you don’t necessarily have to leave them outside,” Winner added. “The idea is to just not track them throughout the house.”
People with children also need to be extra mindful to keep any potentially contaminated shoes from their little ones.
“You have to hide the shoes from small children to ensure they don’t touch them,” she continued. “Teach them not to touch shoes unless they are designated indoor shoes, as shoes are the dirtiest objects we have in our homes, other than the toilets.”
On the bright side, Winner pointed out that while the virus can live on some surfaces, there is no definitive proof that coronavirus can come into the house on your shoes.
“There is no evidence to say that the coronavirus comes into the house from shoes,” she 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.”
When in doubt, wipe those kicks down!