Rewind 2021 and prospects for 2022 Rewind 2021 and prospects for 2022
Home / Knowledge / News / Apparel/Garments / Coronavirus may survive on fabrics for 3 days: DMU

Coronavirus may survive on fabrics for 3 days: DMU

Feb '21
Pic: De Montfort University Leicester (DMU)
Pic: De Montfort University Leicester (DMU)
A new study carried out by scientists at De Montfort University, Leicester has shown that coronavirus can survive on fabrics used in healthcare uniforms for three days and remain infectious. Of the three kinds of fabrics studied, polyester posed the highest risk, with infectious virus still present after three days that could transfer to other surfaces.

The study has recommended that all healthcare uniforms should be washed on site at hospitals or at an industrial laundry.

The team studied behaviour of a virus similar to the strain that causes Covid-19 on three fabrics commonly used in the healthcare industry. Led by microbiologist Dr. Katie Laird,?virologist?Dr. Maitreyi Shivkumar?and postdoctoral researcher Dr. Lucy Owen, the research involved adding droplets of a model coronavirus called HCoV-OC43 – which has a very similar structure and survival pattern to that of SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19 – to polyester, polycotton and 100 per cent cotton.

The scientists then monitored the stability of the virus on each material for 72 hours. The results showed that polyester poses the highest risk for transmission of the virus, with infectious virus still present after three days that could transfer to other surfaces. On 100 per cent cotton, the virus lasted for 24 hours, while on polycotton, the virus only survived for six hours.

“When the pandemic first started, there was very little understanding of how long coronavirus could survive on textiles,” said Laird, head of the Infectious Disease Research Group at DMU.

“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,” added Laird.

Last year, in response to the pandemic, Public Health England (PHE) published guidance stating that industrial laundering should be used for healthcare worker uniforms but where it is not possible, staff should take uniforms home to be laundered.?Meanwhile, the NHS uniform and workwear guidelines state it is safe to wash healthcare workers’ uniforms at home, provided the temperature is set to at least 60 degrees Celius.

Laird raised concerns that the evidence that supported these guidelines was mainly based on two outdated literature reviews published in 2007. She advised the government that all healthcare uniforms should be laundered in hospitals to commercial standards or by an industrial laundry.

She has since co-published an updated, fully comprehensive literature review which evaluates the risk of textiles in the transmission of disease,?highlighting the need for infection control procedures when handling contaminated healthcare textiles.

“After the literature review, the next stage of our work was to evaluate the infection control risk of washing healthcare uniforms contaminated with coronavirus,” she continued. “Once we had determined the survival rate of coronavirus on each of the textiles, we turned our attention to identifying the most reliable wash method for removing the virus.”

Using 100 per cent cotton, the most commonly used healthcare textile, the scientists conducted a number of tests using different water temperatures and wash methods, including domestic washing machines, industrial washing machines, on-premise hospital washing machines, and an ozone (a highly reactive gas) wash system.

The results showed that the agitation and dilution effect of the water in all of the washing machines tested was enough to remove the virus. However, when the team soiled the textiles with an artificial saliva containing the virus (to mimic the risk of spread from an infected person’s mouth), they found that domestic washing machines did not fully remove the virus and some traces survived.

It was only when they added a detergent and increased the water temperature that the virus was completely eliminated. Investigating the tolerance of the virus to heat alone, findings showed that coronavirus was stable in water up to 60 degrees Celsius, but was inactivated at 67 degrees Celsius.

Next, the team looked at the risk of cross contamination, placing clean items of clothing in the same wash as those with traces of the virus. They found all wash systems removed the virus and there was no risk of the other items being contaminated.

Laird explained: “While we can see from the research that washing these materials at a high temperature, even in a domestic washing machine, does remove the virus, it does not eliminate the risk of the contaminated clothing leaving traces of coronavirus on other surfaces in the home or car before they are washed.

“We now know that the virus can survive for up to 72 hours on some textiles and that it can transfer to other surfaces too. This research has reinforced my recommendation that all healthcare uniforms should be washed on site at hospitals or at an industrial laundry. These wash methods are regulated and nurses and healthcare workers do not have to worry about potentially taking the virus home,” Laird said.

“The response has been very positive,” said Laird. “Textile and laundry associations around the world are now implementing our key messages in their guidance for healthcare laundering, to prevent further transmission of coronavirus.”

David Stevens, CEO of Textiles Services Association UK, the trade association for the textile care services industry, said: “Going into a pandemic situation, we had the basic understanding that textiles were not among the top transmission media for coronaviruses.?? However, we really had a lack of information about the stability of these viruses in different fabric types and in different wash programmes. This resulted in several misinformation floating around and excessive recommendations for washing.”?

“We have considered in detail the methodologies and research practices used by Dr. Laird and her team and find this research to be reliable, repeatable and reproducible. The conclusion of this work completed by DMU reinforces the vital role of contamination controls – whether it is domestic or industrial settings,” Stevens said.?

The team is now also working on a project in collaboration with DMU’s Psychology team and University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, surveying nurses and healthcare workers about their knowledge and attitudes towards washing their uniforms during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fibre2Fashion News Desk (SV)

Must ReadView All

Pic: Shutterstock

Textiles | On 29th Jan 2022

EU refers China to WTO following trade restrictions on Lithuania

The EU recently filed a case at the World Trade Organisation against...

Pic: Shutterstock

Apparel/Garments | On 29th Jan 2022

Philippines misses Jan 1 RCEP deadline; to conduct public hearing

The Philippines missed the January 1 effectivity of the Regional...

Pic: Shutterstock

Textiles | On 29th Jan 2022

ILO, BGMEA join hands to continue safety momentum in RMG sector

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Bangladesh...

Interviews View All

Textile Industry, Head honchos

Textile Industry
Head honchos

Global supply chain collapsed during the pandemic

Gaurav Davda, Jindal Worldwide Ltd

Gaurav Davda
Jindal Worldwide Ltd

Indian MMF sector to become globally competitive

Textile Industry, Head honchos

Textile Industry
Head honchos

Great step towards realising end goal of 'AtmaNirbhar Bharat'

Sanjay Jhunjhunwalla,

Sanjay Jhunjhunwalla

In the financial hub of eastern India, Kolkata, a humble production...

Noemi Sanchez,

Noemi Sanchez

Established since 1846, Evlox is a specialised denim manufacturer with its ...



<font color="#303030" face="Open Sans, sans-serif">India-based The Chennai ...

Dr Anup Rakshit, ITTA

Dr Anup Rakshit

The Indian Technical Textile Association (ITTA) is the only association of ...

Giulio Cesareo, Directa Plus

Giulio Cesareo
Directa Plus

UK-based Directa Plus is one of the largest producers and suppliers...

Jacques Prigneaux, EDANA

Jacques Prigneaux

EDANA has been the leading global association and voice of the nonwovens...

Abhishek Bajaj & Samiksha Bajaj, Samshek

Abhishek Bajaj & Samiksha Bajaj

Samshek is a fashion forward tech brand which combines digital experience...

Dahlia Razzrook, Label - Dahlia Razzook

Dahlia Razzrook
Label - Dahlia Razzook

London based designer, <b>Dahlia Razook</b> known for her luxury...

Sunita Shanker, Label Sunita Shanker

Sunita Shanker
Label Sunita Shanker

Inspired by the rich traditional crafts of India, Sunita Shanker’s work is ...

Press Release

Press Release

Letter to Editor

Letter to Editor

RSS Feed

RSS Feed

Submit your press release on


Letter To Editor

(Max. 8000 char.)

Search Companies


Leave your Comments


Etam Group Strategy Hong Kong Limited
Arvind Limited
Groz-Beckert East Asia LLP
Vianney Textil Hogar S.A. De C.V.
T.T. Limited
Recron Polyester from Reliance Industries Limited
Cat Tuong Real Estate Group Joint Stock Company
Aquarelle Clothing Limited
Midas Clothing Limited
IDH – The Sustainable Trade Initiative
Brandix Lanka Limited
NITI Aayog
Sportmaster Ltd.
Truetzschler India Private Limited
Boardriders Asia Sourcing Limited
John Varvatos
Hela Clothing Pvt Ltd
Tommy Hilfiger
Grasim Industries Limited
Maceton Limited
C;&A Sourcing International Ltd
Chori Company Limited
Varner AS Retail
PVH Corporation
Vardhman Textile Ltd
IKEA of Sweden AB
Rayonese Textile Inc., Division de Culp Inc.
Target Corporation (MN)
Phong Phu international JSC (PPJ)
LC Waikiki
OVS Hong Kong Sourcing Ltd.
International Textile Manufacturers Federation
Sainsbury's Argos Asia Limited
H;&M Hennes ;& Mauritz (Far East) Ltd
Sportswear Company Spa
Gokaldas Exports Limited
G-Star Raw C.V.
Under Armour Global Sourcing Ltd
Gap International Sourcing Limited
Eastman Chemical Company
Lisa S.P.A.
Rosset ;& Cia Limited
Hirdaramani International Export Private Limited
Green Fibre
MAS Active / MAS Kreeda / MAS Bodyline
Bluestem Global Sourcing Limited
Lenzing Aktiengesellschaft
Calvin Klein
Helly Hansen Far East Ltd
Reiter India Private Limited
Benetton Group
Tory Burch Hong Kong Ltd
J ;& P Coats
Guess Europe Sagl,
The LYCRA Company Singapore  Pte. Ltd
Aramark Uniform ;& Career Apparel, LLC
Gatsby Africa
Sateri (Jiujiang) Fiber Co.,Ltd
KAS Direct Sourcing
Esprit Europe Services GmbH
Chico’ FAS
Tchibo GmbH
Amazon China
The Top Form Brassiere Manufacturing Company Limited
SHAHI Exports Pvt Ltd
Lacoste (Wanchai)
Gloria Jeans
Deckers Outdoor (Guangzhou) Consultant Co., LTD.
Seasalt Limited
Lululemon Athletica Inc
Restoque S.A.
Alison Hayes Romania
Page Industries Limited (Bangalore)
Landmark Group
Desigual - ABASIC, S.A.

January 2022

Subscribe today and get the latest update on Textiles, Fashion, Apparel and so on.

Advanced Search