Monkey pox is spread by wearing clothes and changing bed linen

Monkeypox can be spread through contact with contaminated clothing and bedding, but there are ways to clean and disinfect these items.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the global monkey epidemic an international emergency. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), monkeypox has been identified in at least 78 countries as of July 28, and cases are currently on the rise in the United States.

Several people on social networks (here, herethe and here) claim that monkeypox virus can be transmitted by touching clothing, bedding, and towels that have previously been in contact with an infected person.

“Think twice before wearing clothes in a store, and bring your own sheets/towels to any hotel or Airbnb stay” said a post.

VERIFY viewer Holly wants to know if these claims are true or false.


Can monkeypox be spread through contaminated clothing and bedding?



Yes, monkeypox is spread by contact with contaminated clothing and bedding.


Transmission of monkeypox is usually through direct contact with a rash or sores on someone who has the virus. But according to the CDC and the New York City Department of Health, it can also be spread through contact with clothing, bedding, or other items used by an infected person.

Another way monkeypox is transmitted is through the respiratory tract during prolonged, face-to-face contact or through intimate physical contact such as kissing, caressing or sex. However, monkeypox is not considered a sexually transmitted disease.

Symptoms of monkeypox can include fever, headache, muscle and back pain, swollen lymph nodes, chills, fatigue, and respiratory symptoms such as sore throat, stuffy nose, or cough. Some people may develop a rash located on or near the genitals or anus, but the CDC says it can also be found in other places, such as the arms, legs, chest, face or mouth.

“Monkey pox can spread from the onset of symptoms until the rash has completely healed and a new layer of skin has formed. The illness usually lasts two to four weeks. People without symptoms of monkeypox cannot spread the virus to others,” the CDC writes on its website.

Ilhem Messaudi Powers, an immunologist at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, said that monkeypox can be spread by wearing clothing worn by an infected person.

“Putting clothes on and taking them off can scratch the skin. Therefore, if a person with an active case of monkeypox wears clothes and then another person wears them, there is a chance of contracting monkeypox. This is because some sores may secrete fluids that are often full of live virus particles. It’s the same for hotel room linens and towels,” Messaudi told VERIFY.

Messaudi explained that it is currently difficult to determine how long the virus can remain on clothing and linens after contact with an infected person, but he said contaminated clothing and bedding “must be thoroughly cleaned to prevent transmission.” Stuart Campbell Ray, MD, is associate chair for data integrity and analytics in the Department of Medicine at Johns Hopkins Medicine.

“It’s a good idea to be careful when you’re in an area with someone who’s very symptomatic,” Ray said.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says there are currently no disinfectants registered for use against monkeypox in the US, but in May the agency posted a list of disinfectants on its website that may help kill the monkeypox virus.

Oxiclean Laundry & Home Sanitizer is one of the products listed for disinfecting laundry against monkeypox. According to the EPA, several other products containing hydrogen peroxide can help disinfect surfaces that come into contact with the virus.

The CDC, WHO, and the New York Health Organization recommend that it is important for someone who has or has had monkeypox to clean and disinfect their clothing, bedding, and other items they have touched in the event of an infection. If this is not possible, the person cleaning should wear a mask and disposable gloves when working with these products.

Each agency shares tips for cleaning and disinfecting clothing, linens, towels, and other items that come into contact with monkeypox, including:

  • Gently put the items into the washing machine using the bag used to collect them.
  • Do not shake the items when taking them out of the bag.
  • Use hot water or the highest temperature.
  • Use normal detergent. You don’t need to use chlorine or colorless bleach or other disinfectants.
  • Dry your clean, damp laundry at the highest temperature allowed. Check product labels for instructions.
  • Air dry items that cannot be machine dried at home.
  • If you are in a laundromat or other shared laundry facility, take your clean, dry laundry out of the dryer and place it directly in a clean bag and fold it at home.
  • Limit your time in public laundries. If possible, go indoors between washing and drying or go outside to avoid close contact with others.

For non-machine washable items:

  • Wash them in the sink or bathtub with detergent.
  • Clean or disinfect items that come into contact with your rash or sores (such as watches, belts, and hats) using appropriate disinfectants on the EPA list.
  • If you cannot wash them at home, put them in a closed plastic bag for 21 days.

If you have a new or unexplained rash or other symptoms, the CDC says it’s important to avoid close contact with others, including having sex or being intimate with anyone, until you are checked by a health care provider. If you do not have a health care provider or health insurance, contact your nearest public health clinic.

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