Experts reveal the top 5 tips for disinfecting shoes following a CDC study that says the coronavirus can travel on footwear

A new CDC study shows that coronavirus can live on shoes. Thomas Trutschel/Getty
  • A new study from CDC found that the coronavirus can live on footwear.
  • While the study was conducted in two hospital wards in Wuhan, China, experts say that people should make sure their shoes are clean and sanitised, even if they are only going to the grocery store.
  • Business Insider spoke to three health and medical experts to determine the best practices for sanitizing shoes to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
  • They advised that people wear cotton or plastic shoes and explained how to properly sanitize different types of footwear.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

An early release of a new CDC study found that the coronavirus can stick to the soles of healthcare workers’ shoes in a hospital setting in Wuhan, China.

Though the study was conducted in the intensive-care unit and general ward of the Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan, China, experts still advise that people take extra precautions with their footwear outside of a medical setting to help slow the spread of the virus and resist possible contamination.

The coronavirus typically spreads through airborne droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The lifespan of the virus varies depending on the type of surface it lives on and can change according to temperature and humidity.

When it comes to footwear, experts say there are some hygiene measures people can take to ensure they do not carry the virus on their shoes. Business Insider spoke to three health care professionals who gave their top tips for cleaning and disinfecting shoes during the coronavirus.

1. Keep you shoes separate from the rest of the home

Even though the new CDC study was conducted in a hospital ward full of coronavirus patients, experts say that people in a non-medical setting should also be mindful of their footwear. They recommend that people practice keeping their shoes away from other areas in the home.

Dr. Mary E. Schmidt, an associate professor of Clinical Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University, told Business Insider that the bottoms of shoes can be a troublesome place when it comes to spreading germs.

“My recommendation is that people pick one pair of shoes for errands that are easy to slip on and off and leave them at the front door,” Schmidt said.

Public health specialist Carol Winner said that keeping worn shoes in a separate area of the home or in a basket by the door is a great way to isolate any germs that the shoes might be carrying.

“It’s good practice to leave shoes by the door,” Winner said, adding that keeping floors clean is also important, especially if there are small kids in the house who are likely to play on the floor.

2. Shoes like Allbirds and Crocs are the easiest to clean

Studies show that the coronavirus can live on plastic for up to three days, but experts say that plastic shoes like Crocs can be great to wear out during the pandemic because they can easily be disinfected with soap, water, and wipes.

Environmental toxin expert Tonya Harris also recommended wearing Crocs when leaving the house. She said that if someone were to go about cleaning their Crocs, they should be sure to use wipes that have at least 70% alcohol and leave the alcohol on the shoes for a couple of minutes to make sure the shoe gets fully disinfected.

Harris and Winner advised against wearing suede shoes out, as they can be harder to disinfect

3. Make sure you hands are clean before disinfecting your own shoes

Experts advise that people make sure their hands are clean when they go to disinfect their shoes.

When taking off their shoes to clean and disinfect them, Winner advises that people use their feet and not touch the shoes with their hands.

Wearing gloves can also help stop the spreading of germs from the shoes to hands.

4. Clean your shoes before you disinfect them

Though experts say soap and water can generally succeed in killing the coronavirus, people who want to take extra measures can do so by using disinfecting spray and rubbing alcohol.

“If you are going to disinfect your shoes, always clean them first,” Harris advised.

Getting the dirt and grime out of the soles and sides of a shoe should be the first step in the disinfecting process. Harris said she recommends people use tools like toothbrushes to make sure the shoes are clean before they apply any rubbing alcohol or other germ-killing substances.

5. If you can, throw your shoes in the washing machine regularly

Experts like Schmidt agree that the sole of the shoe is the riskiest place when it comes to possibly carrying the virus. However, Harris said it is important to think about what germs can reside on the top of the shoe as well.

If the shoes allow for it, placing shoes in a washing machine with soap or detergent should be effective in killing germs from all over the shoes, experts say. When doing so, people should also try and use the warmest setting of the machine to most effectively kill the germs.

Harris said that even a trip to the grocery store warrants a shoe cleaning and that people should try and throw their shoes into the washing machine every couple of days if they can.