COVID-19 and Surface Contamination

Office door handle

How long can the virus that causes COVID-19 live on surfaces? Estimates from the WHO ranged from a few hours to a few days. Those estimates were based on previous coronaviruses.

A new study is the first from a federal laboratory testing SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing the current crisis. This study tested the virus lifespan on a variety of different surfaces. For example, “the virus can survive on hard surfaces such as plastic and stainless steel for up to 72 hours and on cardboard for up to 24 hours. However, the virus remained viable on copper for only about four hours.”

The virus seems to survive longer on hard flat surfaces than rough surfaces or cloth. Of course, there are other conditions that affect contamination, such as light, temperature, and humidity. So testing in laboratory conditions suggests the virus can survive on surfaces for 2–3 days. But now we have a new report from the CDC about the cruise ships that had infected passengers. Researchers found the virus on a variety of surfaces 17 days after the ships were vacated.

If you are still in the workplace, be aware that a virus can spread through a building in 2–4 hours. Some of the typically germiest surfaces there are:

  • Sink faucet handles in the break room.
  • Microwave door handles.
  • Computer keyboards.
  • Refrigerator door handles.
  • Water fountain buttons.
  • Your own desk.

Also, be mindful of cross-contamination from dirty mops and cleaning cloths.

If you are at home, some of the germiest places there include:

  • Kitchen sinks
  • Underwear
  • Purses and handbags
  • Wet laundry
  • Keyboards
  • Cell phones
  • Kitchen sponges
  • Bath tubs & shower curtains
  • Vacuum cleaner bags
  • Beds
  • Money
  • Soap (especially bars)

If you are out shopping or running errands, use hand sanitizer or wash your hands after touching the card readers at the checkout, shopping cards, ATMs, door handles, gas pumps, and so forth.

The EPA has a list of registered Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2. Aire-Master carries two disinfectants on that list: PortionPac Germicidal Cleaner, and Pro-Con Turquoise 3. Ask your local Aire-Master service provider about cleaning and disinfecting services using these products.