According to the article How long do viruses live on surfaces: Plastic, stainless steel, fabric, and more:

With fabrics, it's unclear how long viruses can last. But generally, they tend to last for a shorter amount of time on fabric compared to hard surfaces like stainless steel, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Can someone kindly explain why this is so?

What is it about fabrics that decreases virus viability?

I would like to point out here that in many cultures our ancestors had figured it out empirically. In North India, where I hail from, many old people will eat bread, snacks etc. from a cloth (especially a woolen fabric) if their hands are dirty. The simplistic explanation given is that this type of fabric "stays pure".


1 Answer 1


A VERY interesting question that I had to think a lot about, and frankly I couldn't come up with an answer.

Nevertheless, this article may have.


"Viruses covered in “envelopes” have the most trouble surviving outside a living cell. On surfaces, the surrounding light, heat, and dryness break down the envelope, killing the virus. (Porous surfaces pull moisture away from viruses that land on them, accelerating the destruction of the envelope.) Most rhinoviruses have such envelopes; so do some influenza viruses. Norovirus doesn’t, enabling it to last longer in the environment."

Here are the author's relevant credentials.

Sharon Begley, senior science writer, covers genetics, cancer, neuroscience, and other fields of basic biomedical research. She was previously the senior health and science correspondent at Reuters, the science columnist at the Wall Street Journal, and the science editor at Newsweek. Among her favorite awards are an honorary doctorate from the University of North Carolina and the Public Understanding of Science Award from the Exploratorium in San Francisco.


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