Fomites are inanimate objects that can transfer infectious material between people. This includes clothing such as ties, labcoats, Medical equipment such as stethoscopes, personal items like, rings, and cellphones, and other equipment such as beds, bedding, desks, serving trays.

Fomites are known sources of iatrogenesis, and there presence is behind many recommended practices such as not wearing neckties, rings, or watches, and washing equipment such as stethoscopes and cellphones between patients.

The concept was first described by the Italian Physician Girolamo Fracastoro in 1546. Etymologically, it derives from the latin word « fomes » which means « tinder ».