Infectious disease specialists warn footwear is more likely to carry COVID-19 if it has been worn in busy areas like public transport, stores, or airports.
The sole of a shoe is the main breeding ground for bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Respiratory droplets carried in the air from a person infected with the coronavirus can still land anywhere on the upper part of a shoe like the laces or the heel.
Soles are typically made from durable, synthetic materials like rubber, PVC or leather lined with plastic.
All of these materials carry high levels of bacteria because they are non-porous, meaning they do not allow air, liquid or moisture to pass through.
San Diego family doctor Georgine Nanos told Huffington Post Australia the likelihood of footwear carrying COVID-19 increases if it has been worn in heavily populated areas, like offices, shopping centers, trains, buses, and airports.
Missouri health advisor Dr. Mary E. Schmidt agreed, saying the coronavirus has been shown to live on synthetic surfaces for “five days or more” by studies on materials closely related to shoe fabrics at room temperature.
These claims have been supported by Kansas City public health specialist Carole Winner, who said shoes made with plastic and other synthetic materials can carry active viruses for days. Ms. Winner said shoes should be left in garages or directly inside the front door.
“The idea is to just not to track them throughout the house,” she told HuffPost. People who are not working from home and continuing to commute, like healthcare workers and shop assistants, are advised to use one pair of shoes for any time spent out of the house.
Shoes made from canvas, soft fabrics or faux leather should be cleaned in the washing machine on a low-temperature cycle. Leather shoes or heavy-duty work boots should be cleaned by hand with disinfectant wipes.