Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors

"Is it safe to share a washer and dryer with someone who has warts?"

ZocdocAnswersIs it safe to share a washer and dryer with someone who has warts?


My mom has some warts on her legs, but I?ve never had any. Is it okay to share our laundry? Will the warts spread to me and my clothing?


In order to understand how warts can be transmitted from one person to another, you must first understand exactly what warts are, and how they are caused. "wart" is a generic term that typically refers to coarse raised overgrowth of skin in an area (typically on hands or feet but as in the case of your mother they can show up other places as well... like the legs). There are many different types of warts: common warts (Verruca vulgaris), plantar warts (Verruca pedis, typically found on the feet), filiform warts (flat warts found on the eyelids), and genital warts (Condyloma accuminatum) just to name a few. The one thing that all warts have in common are that they are caused by viruses. The virus usually enters through a violation (break, tear, cut) in your bodies first defense mechanism...your skin. Once the virus gets into the body it incorporates itself into the host and manipulates the hosts cell replication cycle to replicate itself. So warty growths are actually an overgrowth of your own tissue that is caused by a viral infection. The most common virus to cause such infections is the human papilloma virus (HPV). There are many different strains of this virus, and some have been found to cause cervical cancer (16, 18), and be implicated in oropharyngeal cancers (16). The 2 most common strains that cause benign (non-cancerous growths) are HPV type 2 and 4. Because the virus has to get in through a break in the skin, and the virus is likely washed away/damaged by the washing machine (especially is there is a "hot" cycle), it is very unlikely that you could develop warts from using the same washing machine. It wouldn't change where I did my wash. But I would recommend talking to your doctor about how to minimize your risk of getting warts from casual contact with your mother.

Zocdoc Answers is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under Zocdoc’s Terms of Service.