Can Monkeypox Spread In The Laundry?

With monkeypox cases continuing to rise across the country, it's important to be aware of how the illness spreads and how to keep yourself safe from exposure. While we know that monkeypox spreads through skin-to-skin contact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that the virus may also live in linens and clothing, prompting people to wonder if it can be spread through the laundry.

You generally need to have close, personal contact in order to contract monkeypox, according to the CDC. This typically means direct contact with the monkeypox rash, scabs, or bodily fluid, touching objects or surfaces that have been used by someone with the virus, or contact with respiratory droplets. Transmission can happen during intimate contact like hugging, kissing, sex, touching the genitals, or extended face-to-face contact. It can also be passed from a pregnant person to a fetus.

However, there are still a lot of unknowns when it comes to the virus. It's shown unusual behavior recently as it spreads in countries outside of Africa, where it's endemic (via CNBC).

Take care when doing laundry

If the rash or fluids of someone with monkeypox comes into contact with clothing, the virus can potentially spread (via WebMD). This also goes for bedding and towels, because they're more porous and breathable than surfaces like metal or plastic. Viruses like monkeypox also survive well in environments that are dark and cool.

For this reason, it's recommended to carefully wash the laundry of someone with monkeypox to prevent transmission. If the person with monkeypox can't do their own laundry, those who do it should take precautions and wear gloves and a mask. Don't shake out the laundry before washing it and be sure to use hot water (via CDC). Use your own washer and dryer, if possible. If that's not possible, you can contact your local public health department for help.

The risk of transmitting monkeypox through laundry is minimal when compared with skin-to-skin contact, but it's still a possibility (via WebMD). Make sure to wash your hands thoroughly or use hand sanitizer after direct contact with someone who has monkeypox.