It is not yet clear how long the virus can survive on clothing and other more difficult to disinfect surfaces.
That said, a mid-February online course on covid-19 from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control recommends “routine washing of frequently used surfaces, clothes and objects” as a measure to mitigate contagion in homes.
On clothes in particular it is explained that they must be washed “according to the manufacturer’s instructions at the warmest indicated temperature possible”.
In turn, the CDC has a very detailed guide to disinfect the entire home, which includes clothing, but is intended for when there is a suspected or confirmed case of coronavirus in the family. In other words, these are extreme measures.
These recommendations – updated to March 28 – include wearing gloves when handling dirty laundry or washing your hands afterward, not shaking clothes, and using the washing machine mode with the hottest water possible.
“A sick person’s dirty clothes can be washed along with other people’s items,” the CDC reports, recommending using any soap.
The WHO, for its part, maintains that spraying clothing with alcohol or chlorine, as some recommend, “can damage clothing and mucous membranes (that is, eyes, mouth, etc.). Both alcohol and chlorine can serve to disinfect surfaces, provided the relevant recommendations are followed.