People started out thinking we could catch COVID-19 just by breathing in another person’s sneeze. Or by shaking hands and then touching our faces. While these things are true, it didn’t take long to realize the virus can also latch onto surfaces. It can potentially adhere to our clothes and shoes. And ride right into our homes.

To protect healthcare workers from the risk of carrying COVID-19 home from the hospital, YRMC Infection Control has provided safety guidelines for staff. These tips can help anyone returning home from a day at work or a trip to the store. It just takes a little extra planning and some additional care.

Keep COVID-19 out of your home

  • Designate clothing and shoes to wear when you leave the house—whether its work clothes or casual clothes.
  • Take a spare outfit to change into before returning home. Bag and place potentially contaminated clothes and shoes in a bin. Then place the bin in your trunk. Sanitize your hands before getting in the car. These things help keep the virus out of your vehicle.
  • If you’d rather not take a spare outfit with you, undress in the garage or basement upon returning home. Bag clothes and wipe shoes. Or put them straight into the washing machine. Try not to shake them in the process. If you use a hamper, line it with a disposable bag so the virus won’t cling to the interior.
  • Wash and dry clothes at the highest possible temperature. Use heavy-duty detergents like bleach. Or hydrogen peroxide-based cleaners like Oxyclean or Oxyboost. If your clothes are delicate use the highest heat and strongest detergent possible short of damaging them. Make sure to dry clothes completely.
  • Wipe down your vehicle if you didn’t change clothes before getting in the car—seats, steering wheel, clutch, blinker, anything you touched. Use Clorox Wipes or other EPA registered disinfectants.
  • Clean and disinfect other high-contact items you took with you. (Cleaning removes dirt. Disinfecting kills the virus.) This includes keys, wallets, purses, cell phones, glasses, lunch bags, jewelry, etc.
  • Remember to wipe down any household cleaners you used. These are high-contact items, too.

Continue to follow current CDC Guidelines

Meanwhile, please continue to follow CDC recommendations on everyday prevention. Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains 60 percent alcohol. Clean and disinfect your home on a regular basis.

COVID-19 information is subject to change as we learn more about the virus. Information on cleaning and disinfecting your home is updated daily by the CDC.