Should you still be renting clothing amid COVID-19?

Is it safe to use the service as the world responds to the pandemic?

March 19, 2020, 2:40 PM

The global coronavirus crisis has directly affected many industries, and some of fashion's go-to rental-clothing services are being examined through a closer lens.

Over the past several years, companies such as Rent The Runway have grown tremendously in popularity as they give consumers easy access to rotating wardrobes at a fraction of the cost of buying.

Several of these services also give people a practical answer to dressing sustainably, so fewer outfits are thrown out, which harms the environment.

However, during a time of increased uncertainty due to the COVID-19 outbreak, people are curious as to whether or not they should still be renting the runway?

While everyone should continue to practice safety precautions, the ABC News Medical Unit confirms that it's still unclear how long viruses can live on clothing, but it is fact that viruses can stay on shipping materials such as cardboard for up to 24 hours.

"The health, safety and wellbeing of our members, employees and the general public are top priorities during this unprecedented time," a Rent The Runway spokesperson told "Good Morning America." The company also released a statement mentioning that the brand's cleaning agents and practices are designed to kill viruses such as the common cold and flu. "Based on current guidance, we have no reason to believe that our processes are ineffective against COVID-19."

"The teams in our fulfillment centers use a variety of techniques to ensure that each garment is thoroughly cleaned, steamed and pressed, inspected for quality, and carefully packaged so that it arrives ready to wear," the statement added. "All garments go through a wet or dry cleaning process. They also go through an additional steaming process which heats items to between 248°F and 302°F with the exception of faux fur, select outerwear, leather, and faux leather garments, which still go through our standard cleaning processes. According to the CDC, flu viruses are killed by heat above 167°F. Every garment is then enclosed in plastic for protection and cleanliness, which we ask customers to return for recycling."

Additionally, all physical Rent The Runway retails stores have closed at this time as a precaution.

Another up-and-coming rental-clothing service, Nuuly, has released similar statements to reassure customers.

"Even before the coronavirus, we have had precautions in place when handling newly returned and therefore unwashed garments and bags," the company told "Good Morning America" in a statement. "During the receiving and unpacking process, our employees have always worn gloves and we have fully stocked our fulfillment center with hand sanitizing stations."

Nuuly also explained to "GMA" how the company uses wet and dry cleaning for all garments, as well as bags, to eliminate dirt and germs. Everything is also sent through a steam tunnel at 250 degrees F.

Some mainstream department stores have also adopted rental-clothing services, but have had to take extra cautionary actions amid coronavirus.

For example, Bloomingdale's My List advised "Good Morning America" that the store is closely monitoring and following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization with plans to evolve processes as needed.

"Once cleaned, all garments are processed through a high-heat steam tunnel which reaches a minimum of 240°F," Bloomingdales' My List told "Good Morning America" in a statement. "This well exceeds the Center for Disease Control (CDC)-recommended temperature for killing flu viruses of 167°F."

The company also notes that employees in distribution centers always wear gloves when handling clothing.

For more breaking news, live updates and facts on Coronavirus visit ABC News' catchall page at

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