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How to Sanitize Your Shoes to Keep Them COVID-Free

April 6, 2022

How to Sanitize Your Shoes to Keep Them COVID-Free

The coronavirus mainly spreads via respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing. It’s important to note, however, that it can also spread via contaminated surfaces. For example, an individual can get infected if they touch their face after touching a shared surface. After all, the virus can survive outside the human body for many hours.

How Long Can the Coronavirus Survive Outside the Human Body?

Studies have shown that the virus is capable of surviving for several hours on different surfaces. For example, it can live on plastic for three days, stainless steel for two days, and cardboard for 24 hours. In fact, it can even live on your clothes—that is, it has a lifespan of two days on cloth and other materials. Given that, it’s important to wash your clothes after each wear, especially if you’ve been in a crowded area. 

Can the Coronavirus Travel on Shoes?

Yes, it can—that is, it can easily come into contact with viral particles that are on the ground. If you can easily bring it home with you via your shoes. Fortunately, however, it doesn’t seem to be a major mode of transmission. After all, you’d have to touch your shoes and then touch your face. 

coronavirus on shoes

With that said, it doesn’t hurt to be careful; this is especially true for individuals who work in high-risk areas such as grocery shops or hospitals. Ideally, you always want to remove your shoes before entering the house (you can do the same for your socks). If possible, leave them in an entryway or garage. That way, you won’t have to worry about introducing any viral particles into your home. 

How Long Can the Coronavirus Live on Shoes? 

It depends on the type of shoes. More specifically, the type of fabric that’s used for the shoes. That is, the virus tends to survive longer on those made from plastic or other synthetic materials (2-3 days). With that said, it does need moisture to survive, something that shoes don’t offer. As a result, the virus is likely to dry out quickly. 

Should You Wash Your Shoes?

While it’s not necessary to wash your shoes, it doesn’t hurt. If anything, you just want to make sure that you’re doing it correctly. The last thing that you’d want to do is to ruin them by applying various disinfectants onto the fabric! When in doubt, check the manufacturer’s instructions that are on the tag within your shoes—they’ll tell you how you can clean them. For instance, some may be machine washable, in which case, you can wash them with detergent. 

Ways to Disinfect Your Shoes 

Here are seven ways that you can rid your shoes from the coronavirus.

Using Disposable Wet Wipes 

Wet wipes are great for a couple of reasons. For one thing, they usually come in convenient packages. Once you’re done, you can also throw them into the trash—you don’t have to worry about contaminating other surfaces with the wipes. Depending on what you get, though, they may not completely disinfect your shoes. With that said, most will be enough to remove surface contaminants and germs. If anything, the most important thing is to wash your hands after using them.

Using a Disinfectant Spray 

shoe disinfectant spray

Technically, you can use household disinfectant sprays (e.g. Clorox, Lysol) on your shoes. Keep in mind, however, that they may not be suitable for all types of footwear—that is, they can cause some materials to degrade. As it is, a better option would be to use a specialized shoe disinfectant spray. Not only will they kill germs, but they’ll also inhibit the growth of mildew and mold. In other words, your shoes won’t be as stinky. 

Using an Ultraviolet Shoe Sanitizer

UV light is extremely effective at killing germs, including the viruses that cause COVID-19. While it’s not recommended that you use them on your hands, you can use them to sanitize other things—such as your shoes. That’s right, ultraviolet shoe sanitizers are a thing.  All you have to do is pop in one of the lights into your shoes and it’ll be able to eliminate the micro-organisms. As an extra bonus, it can also kill bacteria related to warts, toenail fungus, and athlete’s foot.

Wash Then With Detergent and Water 

Like we said earlier, some shoes can be washed with soap and water—either by hand or by machine. One benefit to this is that you’ll be able to wash the top of the shoe as well as the shoe. While it might not be feasible to do every day, it is a good idea to throw them in the washing machine every few days if you can. For the best results, use warm or hot water (assuming that it’s compatible with the material).

Machine Washing Fabric and Mesh Shoes With Detergent

Start by removing the laces and insoles from your shoes. While the former can be washed in the washing machine, the latter should be washed separately. Never machine wash your insoles as they can become waterlogged. 

Use a soft brush to remove any excess debris or mud on the soles. Once you’ve done that, place your shoes in a mesh bag; that will prevent them from banging around inside the machine. From there, load them into the washing machine. To balance the wash load, add in a few old towels.

active give

Set your washer on a delicate cycle, ideating with slow or no-spin. For sanitizing purposes, it’s best to use hot water. Keep in mind, however, that not all shoes are able to tolerate heat—always check the label first. Next, add a scoop of ACTIVE detergent and run the machine. The water and detergent will be enough to kill any germs that are on your shoes, including the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19.

Once the cycle is complete, remove your shoes from the garment bag and let them air dry. You can put paper towels or rags into the shoes to help absorb excess moisture. Allow them to fully dry (it can take up to a few days) before wearing them again). Using a dryer is not recommended. 

Hand Washing Fabric and Mesh Shoes With Detergent 

Generally speaking, it’s better to sanitize your shoes by throwing them in the washing machine. Why? You won’t have to touch them nearly as much with your hands. With that said, there’s nothing wrong with washing them manually as long as you’re careful.

The first thing that you want to do is fill a washbasin with warm or hot water. Add in half a scoop of ACTIVE detergent and wait for it to dissolve; you should end up with a soapy mixture. Use a soft brush to loosen any debris on the shoes before dunking them into the solution. As with machine washing, you want to take out the insoles and laces so that you can wash them separately. 

handwashing shoes

Let the shoes soak for at least 30 minutes before rinsing them thoroughly with water. Remember, hot water is best for sanitizing. Once the shoes are rinsed, let them air dry with paper towels inside to help with the excess moisture.

How to Sanitize Leather Shoes Properly

sanitizing leather shoes

Leather is more delicate compared to other materials. In other words, you won’t be able to toss them in the washing machine—nor will you be able to use sanitizing sprays. Don’t worry, though, you can still clean them. To do that, all you need is a little bit of rubbing alcohol.

Start by mixing it with water in a three to one ratio. Once you’ve done that, saturate a cloth with the solution and use it to clean the outside of the shoe. Repeat with the inside (you can wash the insole separately with soap and water if it’s removable) and allow it to dry completely.

Tip: While it’s not advisable to use antibacterial sprays on the outside of the shoe, you can use it to spray the inside. Just make sure that it doesn’t get on the leather.

Depending on your shoes, you may or may not have to apply some leather conditioner as the rubbing alcohol can dry out the material.

Other Tips For COVID-19 Prevention

Here are a few other things that you can do to protect you and your family from the coronavirus

  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces such as handrails, door handles, light switches, toilets, taps, and keyboards
  • Wash your hands with soap and water after doing the laundry
  • Make a habit of changing into clean clothes once you get home
  • Take off your shoes once you get home and leave them in the entryway
  • Keep your distance from people who are coughing or sneezing
  • Have a dedicated pair of shoes to go in and out
  • Health care workers should change their shoes before getting in the car
  • Wash your hands after you touch your hands
  • Hides shoes from small children to ensure that they won’t be touching them
  • Have designated shoes for indoor use
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