SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Coronavirus can potentially survive on certain fabrics for up to three days, UK researchers have discovered. The study conducted at De Montfort University Leicester tested a virus that “has a very similar structure and survival pattern to that of SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19” on three common fabrics — polyester, cotton and polycotton.

The contagiousness of the model virus lasted for varying time spans on each fabric, the study conducted last month found, with infectious droplets on polyester having the longest survival rate at 72 hours. The virus on 100% cotton can be found for up to 24 hours and on polycotton for six hours.

“Our findings show that three of the most commonly used textiles in healthcare pose a risk for transmission of the virus. If nurses and healthcare workers take their uniforms home, they could be leaving traces of the virus on other surfaces,” said Dr. Katie Laird, one of the researchers.

Laird, as well as virologist Dr. Maitreyi Shivkumar and postdoctoral researcher Dr. Lucy Owen, studied the droplets for 72 hours.

So how can you ensure your clothing is safe from coronavirus? The researchers tested different wash methods and found that the model virus was eliminated in a regular, household washing machine once detergent was added and the water temperature was raised.

The study found that water at about 153 degrees Fahrenheit (or 67 degrees Celsius) made the model virus inactive.

Laird said even washing contaminated clothing with non-contaminated clothing is safe when using a high temperature.

However, it is possible for contaminated clothing to spread coronavirus to other surfaces before washing.

“This research has reinforced my recommendation that all healthcare uniforms should be washed onsite at hospitals or at an industrial laundry,” said Laird. “These wash methods are regulated and nurses and healthcare workers do not have to worry about potentially taking the virus home.” 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says a person can get infected if they touch a surface that has virus droplets on it and then touches their own mouth, nose or eyes. But the agency does not believe it is a common way for COVID-19 to spread.

To help prevent the risk of spreading, the CDC recommends washing your hands frequently with soap and water especially before touching your face.

The CDC also recommends using a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available. Make sure to cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.