Can the coronavirus spread through mail? What about on your clothes?

The coronavirus forces us to question every surface as a potential hazard. Can the virus spread on clothing or through mail?


Across the world, the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, forces us to question every surface as a potential hazard. Many worry even their mail may be a risk. Mark Albert asked Dr. Leana Wen, former health commissioner of Baltimore, about mail and clothing safety in the coronavirus age.

Is it safe to collect the mail?

Wen: It is. Now, it is possible that you could get coronavirus by touching surfaces and especially hard non-porous surfaces like doorknobs, elevator buttons and then somebody else touches it, and you're infectious, they could get it too. But getting it from the mail, getting it from things that have been exposed to the outside for a long time, it's extremely unlikely. There have not been documented cases (of that.) I would say, again, the most important thing that we can do, I know we hear this over and over again, is hand-washing, but also keeping a safe distance from someone else is the best way to protect yourself.

Can the virus be transferred on clothes?

Wen: It could be. Although the type of soft, porous surface like clothes are, the virus will live on it for a much shorter period of time than it would on a hard, non-porous surface. As you wash your clothes, wash it with hot water, with detergent. But make sure also that it's not just your clothes that you're washing. Because if you are dumping things into a hamper and that's an aluminum container or some other container, (make sure) that there is a liner in there too — either a disposable liner that you can throw away, or something that you could also launder.