Medical workers on the front lines of the coronavirus should be sure to clean their shoes.
In a new study published in one of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s journals, Emerging Infectious Diseases, researchers tested air and surface samples at a hospital in Wuhan, China, where the coronavirus outbreak initiated. The researchers found that about half of health-care professionals working in intensive care units carried the coronavirus on the soles of their shoes. Further, the report showed that there was a 100% positive rate from the floor of the pharmacy, where only health-care workers traveled, not infected patients.
“Therefore, the soles of medical staff shoes might function as carriers,” the researchers wrote. “We highly recommend that persons disinfect shoe soles before walking out of wards containing COVID-19 patients.”
There is no advisory on the best method for cleaning shoes to best protect against the coronavirus, but a nurse went viral on TikTok for her disinfectant routine, which included placing shoes in bleach overnight.
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Shoes made of fabrics like mesh or canvas can be cleaned in the washing machine. The United Kingdom’s National Health Service recommends washing fabrics at a high temperature (140°F) with a product containing bleach to enhance the disinfectant results. (Bleach has been tested and clinically proven to kill bacteria and viruses.)
While machine washing can damage shoes made of leather or other man-made materials, shoes made of those materials can be cleaned using basic dish or hand soap and water. Notably, washing leather may alter its texture and/or appearance, so you should test a small area inside the shoe or under the tongue before cleaning. To disinfect your shoes, you should make a mixture of 70% alcohol and water, the CDC advises.
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