How Long Can Parvo Live On Clothes?

Parvo is a serious illness that is highly contagious and often lethal for puppies—kind of like a deadlier version of Covid-19, but for dogs. Luckily, if you get your pup to the vet in time, his chances of survival are good. The survival rate for parvo cases treated by vets are between 68 and 92 percent. Still scary, though, and unvaccinated dogs are especially at risk. If your pup survives the first three or four days of the disease, he’ll probably be completely fine. Untreated cases, unfortunately, have a low survival rate, with 90 percent of pups not making it.

Today, we answer some common questions related to Parvo in dogs.

[1] What is Parvo?

Parvo is a disease caused by the canine Parvovirus, usually affecting dogs, although other animals can be carriers. This potentially lethal virus gets spread between dogs through direct or indirect contact with infected feces. We all know that pups love sniffing anything and everything – that’s why this highly contagious disease spreads so quickly. The virus can remain on any property for months. You know, in your clothes, on doggy equipment, leashes, and any other surface your pup comes into contact with – even in the soil in your yard — scary stuff.

The Parvovirus causes gastrointestinal infections that require advanced medical treatment, usually in a veterinary hospital. It also suppresses your pup’s immune response, making him vulnerable to secondary infections. It’s not a pretty sight, and these pups usually get really ill.

You can (and should) inoculate your pup against Parvo to give him a fighting chance if he does come into contact with the virus. This generally happens in several stages, with shots administered when the pup is 6, 9, and 14 weeks old. A year later, your dog gets a booster shot, and then again every three years for the rest of his life. While vaccination doesn’t necessarily guarantee immunity, it is highly effective, protecting dogs against the disease in most cases.

Most doggy daycare and other socialization centers insist on seeing their four-footed clients’ inoculation certificates before allowing them entry. This measure protects all the other pups that go there.

[2] Why is it dangerous for dogs?

Parvo is potentially lethal, especially for younger dogs. Since it spreads so quickly, people who come into contact with lots of dogs, especially puppies, must be incredibly careful to avoid contamination. Many people spread the disease without even realizing it since it sticks to any surface for up to nine months.

Parvo has no cure, but many dogs recover and suffer no long-lasting side effects with the right treatment. That is, if they get treatment in time, within the first three days of falling ill. If your pup makes it through the first three days of the disease, he’s got an excellent chance of survival.

Some dogs carry long-lasting effects from the virus, such as repressed immune systems and a tendency to pick up gut- and intestine-related diseases. In these cases, the pup’s human parents might have their hands full with all the special care their furkid needs.

In many cases, it’s not actually the Parvovirus that kills a dog – it’s secondary infections, usually in the gut. Parvo weakens your dog’s immune response, leaving him open to secondary infections, which are also potentially lethal. That’s why vets treat Parvo with antibiotics, even though antibiotics technically can’t kill viruses. Antibiotics kill bacteria.

Dogs that have Parvo are infectious while they have the virus and ten days after recovery, so it’s best to keep your pup in quarantine for a while after they’re well again. You don’t want them running around, infecting other dogs and spreading the disease even further.

[3] How long can Parvo live on clothes?

Parvo lives on anything that an infected dog poops or vomits on. Also on anything coming into contact with that surface. It’s scary. This disease can live on your clothes, or any other fabric or carpet, for up to six months, while it survives on outside surfaces for up to nine months. Yikes! So, if you even suspect that you have a case of Parvo on your property, it’s a good idea to start cleaning everything. And we mean everything.

[4] How to clean clothes after Parvo?

Now that we understand the importance of removing the Parvovirus from clothes, the question remains, how? The most common method is bleach since it generally kills anything that moves. The first step is soaking your clothes in the bleach – the longer, the better. Check the label for instructions on how long.

Then, steam it. Temperatures between 120 and 130 ֯C usually suffice for this step, so check the specs of the steamer you’re using. Do this for at least 15 minutes to ensure that everything is nicely cooked. Lastly, hang it out in the hot sun to kill off the last of these nasty bugs. Sunlight is a wonderful, natural disinfectant.

Note that, if it’s not a hard surface, it’s generally harder to clean properly, so repeat this process a few times, just to be on the safe side. Make sure you get into any creases and dense stitching – don’t leave anything to chance on this one.

The bad news is that you can’t really know whether you killed the virus – time will tell. So, if you’re not sure, it’s best to keep the area (or clothes) quarantined as far as practically possible. It’s far better to take a rain check on wearing your favorite pair of pants for a few months than infecting more dogs as you go along.

[5] What are parvo tablets, and where can you get them from?

Parvo tablets are small hard tablets (weighing about 2.5g) that contain disinfectant.

They are effective against a broad spectrum of bacteria, viruses, fungi and spores.

They will dissolve in warm water and can be used to clean any number of surfaces or objects.

And their target audience are veterinarians and their clinics- not the ordinary dog owner and their clothes.

I can’t find any instructions about using them with clothes- only floors, surfaces, surgical equipment and such.

Two places that they can be bought in the UK are vetuk.co.uk and hyperdrug.co.uk.

[6] Will color-safe bleach kill Parvo?

Yes, it will. In most cases, anyway. So, if your favorite T-shirt got infected with Parvo, the good news is that you can probably still wear it again. After you cleaned it thoroughly, that is. You know, “kill it, and when it’s dead, kill it again.” If you’re not sure, check the label – the active ingredients will be listed on there, so you can Google it, just to be sure.

[7] What kills Parvo besides bleach?

While bleach is usually the most effective at killing Parvo, it’s not always the most practical. Some readily available products that also kill Parvo include accelerated hydrogen peroxide, potassium peroxymonosulfate, and chlorine dioxide.

You probably won’t find these products in the shop under those names. Still, they tend to be the primary or active ingredients in products marketed as Parvo-killers. So, when you’re looking for an alternative to bleach, check out the list of ingredients on potential products before purchasing them. Usually, the manufacturer’s website will also have a list of viruses and other pathogens that these products are effective against. Once again, it’s Google to the rescue if you’re not sure.

Why would you need something other than bleach, you ask? Well, sometimes, you need to clean extensive areas. Or, you need to clean something that will be entirely ruined by bleach. It could also be something as simple as bleach is potentially expensive, and you’re looking for a cost-effective alternative.

Closing Thoughts

Parvo is incredibly infectious and potentially lethal. However, if you get your pooch the necessary treatment immediately, he has a good chance of beating the virus. So, always keep a lookout for possible signs of infection, especially if you have pups that have not been inoculated. While there is no cure for Parvo, many dogs survive it with the right treatment, but only if it’s administered as soon as they become ill.

Parvo stays in clothes and on surfaces that have been in contact with the virus for up to nine months. That’s why it’s super important to properly disinfect anything that might be infected, immediately and properly.