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VERIFY: Yes, COVID-19 virus can live on clothes and inside cars

A viewer sent an email asking: if you've gone out in public, can the virus live inside the car or on your clothes? Our VERIFY team has the answer.

SAN DIEGO — As coronavirus cases continue to spike, many people are wondering if they should be taking even more precautions than they did before.

That includes things like disinfecting your car and clothing.

A viewer wrote News 8 an email asking if you've gone out shopping, can the virus live in the car or on your clothes? 

If so, how often should you disinfect?

News 8 spoke with Doctor Jyotu Sandhu from Sharp Rees-Stealy to get some answers.

He verified the virus can live in the car or on clothes.

But, for how long?

At this point, no one can say for sure until more is known about the virus.

"Yes, it can but the time frame hasn't been solidified yet. This is an evolving process," Dr. Sandhu said. 

Regardless, should we disinfect every time we return from being out in public?

Dr. Sandhu said if you're knowingly around someone who has coronavirus, then yes. But, even if you're not, it's still a good idea.

"One thing we need to take into consideration is where we've been and clean ourselves after we've been in any situation," he said. "These are all safety measures that help mitigate or decrease the risk of transmission or decrease the risk of disease."

When it comes to washing your clothes, the CDC offers these tips:

  • Wear disposable gloves.
  • Do not shake dirty laundry. This minimizes the possibility of dispersing the virus into the air.
  • Use the warmest water setting.
  • Dry items completely.

If you've been out in public, the CDC recommends sanitizing your vehicle regularly.  That includes:

  • The steering wheel
  • Door handles
  • Gear shift
  • Seatbelts
  • Radio dials

Also, while driving, make sure you have proper ventilation. Opening the windows helps or setting the air conditioner to non-recirculation mode.

But, first and foremost, when you are out, use common sense by wearing a mask and washing your hands often. That includes after leaving a public place and before getting back in your car.

"It's important to disinfect, to wash your clothes, use hand sanitizer," Dr. Sandhu said. "We know these are measures people can take to decrease the risk, but we'll never say this is a magic bullet from coronavirus ever getting you.”

The CDC also recommends limiting the number of people in your car especially if they are from outside of your household.

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