Some are worried about the coronavirus spreading on particular surfaces and materials such as leather. This post will examine COVID-19’s ability to live on clothing surfaces, and how shoppers can disinfect their leather accessories without damaging them.
COVID-19 On Various Surfaces
We won’t spend too much time discussing COVID-19 itself since you’re most likely receiving a flood of updates about the virus. However, we’ll briefly highlight emerging research centred on the novel coronavirus and its ability to linger on clothing material.
Research from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) demonstrated the virus can remain active on stainless steel for 2-3 days and on copper for 4 hours. The zippers, buttons and other hardware found on clothing are often made with these materials. It’s safe to assume that these components can harbour the virus and serve as a source of transmission, although the risk of this seems low.
Scientists are still unsure how long the new coronavirus can even survive on clothing materials themselves, however. Some experts assume that the virus would remain active longer on artificial fibres such as polyester. Dr. Juan Dumois, a pediatric infectious-diseases physician at John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, explains why.
“Coronaviruses, in general, last a lot longer on solid, nonporous surface[s] compared to porous fabrics.” Artificial fibres are typically nonporous.
Aside from clothing, there is concern about another possible coronavirus transmitter - our shoes.
Researchers are still unclear about how widespread shoe transmission may be. Nevertheless, a recent CDC study found that 50% of shoe samples tested from an ICU ward in China contained COVID-19 particles. A hospital setting will differ from other environments, where there might not be a large concentration of sick patients, but it still indicates a risk of shoe transmission elsewhere.
It’s clear that clothing can have at least some potential to carry and transmit coronaviruses. But how does leather fit into the mix?
COVID-19 On Leather Accessories & Clothing
There doesn’t seem to be any studies out there which show how long coronaviruses can survive on leather. We can assume that there is a risk (albeit a minimal one) of leather accessories carrying the virus.
But leather is a porous material. Viruses, including coronaviruses, don’t survive as long on porous surfaces, which could suggest that leather accessories don’t hold onto viral particles very long.
Again, this is speculation since there are no published studies on how long coronavirus can last on leather. But it’s safe to assume that a COVID-19 infection could happen if someone touched a leather handbag infected with droplets laced with the virus. Regardless of how long the virus may survive on leather accessories, the uncertainty around its spread makes it important to take precautions anyway.
That brings us to our next point.
Disinfecting Leather Accessories to Protect Yourself From COVID-19
Let’s say you plan to buy a leather wallet or a leather bag online, or you’ve been grocery shopping with your leather accessories in close reach. You’re probably concerned about the possibility of COVID-19 particles being spread by delivery workers or from cashiers at the grocery store.
And let’s be honest, you might be a bit wary of using certain cleaners for fear of them damaging your leather goods. Fortunately, we have some tips to reduce the risk of coronavirus spread while preventing you from damaging your leather accessories.
COVID-19-Cleansing Tips for Leather Accessories
- Use rubbing alcohol or Clorox Wipes - A small dab of rubbing alcohol or disinfectant wipes applied to your leather bag, wallet or any other item will likely be sufficient enough to kill coronavirus particles. Numerous studies have shown that alcohol-based disinfectants are effective killers of coronavirus particles, especially when they contain at least 70% alcohol.
- Use a leather conditioner after - Rubbing alcohol can leach oils from leather and cause it to wear out prematurely. Applying a pea-sized or dime-sized amount leather conditioner in a circular motion can “moisturize” the leather so that it doesn’t lose its sheen too early.
- Don’t use chlorine - Chlorine and leather are a match made in hell. In all its forms (such as bleach), chlorine causes leather to stiffen and dry out quickly, leading to fast wear and tear. Whatever you do, look the other way if a bottle of bleach is staring you in the face to disinfect your items.
The COVID-19 pandemic won’t subside overnight. It will take time before we start to see its effects truly decline, and that means having to make modifications to the way we live. Among those changes are the ways we shop for and handle our clothing including leather accessories and apparel.
If you’re looking to buy or protect existing leather goods, heed the tips presented in the previous section on cleansing. More importantly, don’t forget the basic practices that go along with them. Practice regular hand washing, avoid touching your face and follow the ultimate social distancing rule - stay at home as much as possible!