Transfer of DNA without contact from used clothing, pillowcases and towels by shaking agitation

Devon Thornbury, Mariya Goray, Roland A.H. van Oorschot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


DNA is frequently retrieved from commonly used objects or surfaces with no apparent biological stains. This DNA may have come from one or more individuals who directly deposited their DNA, or indirectly transferred the DNA of others, when physically contacting the sampled object or surface. Furthermore, contactless indirect DNA transfer of this ‘touch DNA’ from fabric substrates was recently demonstrated to be possible in a controlled laboratory environment. The circumstances and extent to which this form of contactless DNA transfer occurs are largely unknown. This study investigated indirect DNA transfer without contact by applying a gentle shaking agitation to used clothing, pillowcases and towels, with known usage and history, of 10 volunteers above the collection zone of the secondary surface. DNA transfer frequently occurred and was possible from all three investigated items. It occurred at levels that often produced informative profiles where transferred profiles closely resembled the profiles generated from the primary item. The outcomes of this study contribute to expanding the understanding of indirect DNA transfer without contact. However, this field would benefit from investigating a wider range of agitations and/or item types with various histories of use to determine the level of transfer and its detectability under different conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)797-805
Number of pages9
JournalScience and Justice
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021


  • Contactless transfer
  • DNA dislodgement
  • DNA transfer
  • Fabric objects
  • Personal items


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