Queenie Grootboom
Vinny Nogemane
Queenie Grootboom
Vinny Nogemane

Why you need to leave your shoes OUTSIDE your house: Infectious disease specialists warn COVID-19 can survive on soles for up to five days - and reveal how to clean them properly

Infectious disease specialists have warned that COVID-19 can live on the soles of shoes for up to five days, with footwear more likely to carry coronavirus if it has been worn in busy areas like supermarkets, airports or on public transport.

The sole of a shoe is the main breeding ground for bacteria, fungi and viruses, but respiratory droplets carried in the air from a person infected with 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 which carry high levels of bacteria because they are non-porous, meaning they do not allow air, liquid or moisture to pass through.

Australians are becoming increasingly mindful of what is brought inside their homes as the country recorded a spike of 190 cases overnight in New South Wales alone, bringing nationwide infections to 2,793 and the death toll to 12.

Shoes are more likely to carry COVID-19 if they have been worn in busy areas like supermarkets, airports or on public transport (pictured, customers carry shopping bags outside a supermarket in Sydney, Australia on March 4, 2020)


A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed coronavirus can live on cardboard for 24 hours and on stainless steel and plastic for up to to three days.

Studies have shown the virus can remain on synthetic materials used in shoes for as long as five days.

Frequently touched surfaces like taps, phone cases, door handles, computer keyboards and toilets should be cleaned using bleach or alcohol solutions of at least 70 percent alcohol.

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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 centres, trains, buses and airports.


New South Wales: 1,219

Victoria: 520

Queensland: 493

Western Australia: 231

South Australia: 235

Australian Capital Territory: 53

Tasmania: 47 

Northern Territory: 8

TOTAL CASES:  2,806 

DEAD: 13Missouri 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.