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Should I worry about my clothes after I’ve been outside? (Time Magazine)

That depends on where you go and whether you’re in contact with other people. Recent studies have found that the virus that causes COVID-19 can live in the air and on different types of surfaces for between four hours and 72 hours. An April 2 study from The Lancet shows that the virus can live on cloth fabric for up to two days; on surfaces like steel or plastic, it can be detected for up to seven days.

That said, it’s unlikely that you’ll get sick from not changing your shirt after returning home from the grocery store, says Dr. Irfan Hafiz, an infectious disease specialist at Northwestern Medicine. You’re more likely to get it through respiratory droplets from another person than contracting it from a surface.

If you are caring for someone who is sick, you should be careful and protect yourself while handling their belongings. “Their personal environment may be more contaminated,” says Hafiz. It’s okay to mix their clothes with your dirty laundry before washing them; just make sure to wear gloves during or wash your hands after doing the laundry.