Whether you work in a healthcare setting (such as a hospital, medical office, pharmacy, or laboratory) or anywhere else these days, preventing the spread of the COVID-19 infectious disease and its causal virus (the SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus) is likely one of your primary goals at the moment. And like us here at The Good Coat, if your job requires you to wear a white lab coat, you may be worried about its safety – for yourself and your patients. There is also the constant worry of taking the Coronavirus home with us when our workday is over.
We pulled the latest information from medical journals, microbiologists, and infectious disease experts to bring you up-to-date details about the fabric/clothing you wear (including your professional white lab coat), the SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus, and the risk of COVID-19. While you’ll need to take precautions with what you wear, including your white coat, the answers we’ve found are quite reassuring. Read on to learn some great tips on how to disinfect both clothing and your professional white coat.
How Long Does Coronavirus Live on Clothes, Fabric, or a White Lab Coat?
According to The Lancet, COVID-19 may be able to live on fabric for up to two days. In testing, they could find no viable virus left on the fabric after 48 hours (compared to 7 days for hard surfaces like metal and plastic). Droplets and viral particles follow the airflow, which means that when you move, your body pushes air out of the way causing those particles and droplets to do the same. Very importantly, unless someone coughs or sneezes directly on you, the droplets and particles likely won’t stick to clothing. Virus droplets must be big enough that they don’t follow along with the airflow in the room to wind up on clothing.
This is all to say that the evidence indicates it would be very hard to contract COVID-19 from clothing. After someone sneezes directly on your clothing, you would then need to touch that surface that has the virus on it, and then touch your own mouth, nose, or possibly your eyes, all with enough viral load to cause you to get COVID-19. Now in theory this is possible, and we do not want to minimize the risks, as nothing seems impossible with this virus. But very importantly, this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads (the virus mainly spreads through respiratory droplets).
Can a Professional Lab Coats Become Contaminated with Coronavirus?
That brings us to our next question: can the SARS-CoV-2 virus live on your professional white lab coat? Once again, the virus doesn’t live on fabric for more than two days according to studies, and droplets and viral particles are unlikely to end up on your clothing; this includes your white lab coat. If someone sneezes or coughs directly on your coat, then you should definitely remove it, isolate it, and then wash/disinfect it (see more on this below).
Naturally, if you work in a healthcare environment where you are exposed to patients with suspected or known COVID-19, then you must take additional precautions. Such as exchanging your professional lab coat for the appropriate PPE [RB1] (personal protective equipment) for healthcare workers, including a gown, gloves, eye protection, and a face mask.
How Do You Disinfect Clothing from Coronavirus?
Working on the frontlines, you may be coming into contact with potentially COVID-19 infected patients/people as a healthcare worker. Therefore, it’s essential to know how to handle and/or disinfect your white coat when your day/shift is over. A good resource for more detailed job-specific information is the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) website, as well as the CDC website for healthcare personnel about cleaning and disinfecting your professional white coat.
Your first plan of action is to make sure you do not shake the white coat to avoid spreading any particles or droplets if they exist on the fabric’s surface.
Once removed cautiously, here are a few tips for safe disinfecting of your white coat or any potentially exposed clothing. And note that some offices/hospitals using a laundry service, which is a good choice – drop your coat off as soon as you think it’s been contaminated, or at minimum once a week (note that if you have a Good Coat, you can also follow our recommended cleaning instructions):
- When you’re doing laundry, wear gloves. Wash your hands after you remove your gloves for extra defense against COVID-19.
- Launder with a household detergent or laundry soap. A detergent with bleach may be helpful as long as it won’t ruin your white coat; however, always use strong detergent or soap. We do not recommend bleach for cleaning your Good Coat.
- Choose the warmest water temperature setting allowed by the care label. Although hot water settings could potentially hurt certain fabrics, make sure you use the warmest water temperature possible to kill germs. For washing your Good Coat, we recommend a maximum water temp of 60° Celsius.
- Dry your white coat in the dryer. If care guidelines allow, dry your coat in the dryer to help kill the virus. For drying your Good Coat, we recommend either line dry naturally or tumble dry low without drying sheets.
- Disinfect your laundry baskets. Using a household disinfect that kills the virus ensures clean clothes won’t come in contact with potential germs.
Safety and The Good Coat
For all of us working in healthcare during this ongoing global pandemic, our small business – The Good Coat – is committed to safety. But even with our antimicrobial[RB2] , high-quality lab coats designed specifically for medical professionals and students, a white lab coat can only do so much to protect us from the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Most importantly, you must take good care of your professional lab coat and all of your potentially exposed clothing.
From white coat disinfecting measures to how long SARS-CoV-2 lasts on fabric, The Good Coat is motivated to supplying evidence-based and best information about this global pandemic. If you have questions you would like answered or other blogs you’d like to read, please Contact us today!
Stay safe out there.