Can one get COVID-19 from touching surfaces? As most of us have been informed, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 mainly spreads from person to person, by breathing in infected droplets from someone who coughs or sneezes. Unfortunately, it would seem, you could also catch the virus if you touch a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touch your mouth, nose, or eyes.
What you Need to Know to Stay Healthy
It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it appears to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on a surface for a few hours or up to several days. How long the coronavirus survives on surfaces like countertops and doorknobs depends on the material the surface is made from.
Here’s a list of surfaces and the estimated amount of time new studies are showing that the family of viruses that includes the one causing COVID-19, can live on them. Note some of the surfaces you probably touch on a daily basis. Keep in mind researchers still have a lot to learn about the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. It’s still unclear if exposure to heat, cold, or sunlight affects how long the virus lives on surfaces.
Metal Surfaces: up to 5 days
Doorknobs, silverware, jewelry, keys, sink, etc.
Copper: up to 4 hours
Cookware, pennies, tea kettles, etc.
Aluminum: up to 8 hours
Soda cans, tin foil, water bottles, laptops, iPads/tablets, etc.
2 to 8 hours
Stainless steel: up to 3 days
Appliances like refrigerators, pots and pans, sinks, some bottles and coffee mugs…
Cardboard: up to 24 hours
File dividers, shipping boxes and packaging, etc.
Paper Surfaces: The length of time varies.
Some strains of coronavirus live for only a few minutes on paper, while others live for up to 5 days.
Wood: up to 4 days
Furniture, shelves, countertops, decking and floors or doors, etc.
Plastics: up to 3 days
Credit cards, packaging containers (milk, juice, and detergent bottles), seats on the subway, buttons like on keyboards and in the elevator, bags from the stores or handles on appliances…
Glass Surfaces: up to 5 days
Drinking glasses, measuring cups, mirrors and windows, etc.
Ceramics: up to 5 days
Dishes, pottery, mugs and vases etc.
On a positive note, Food and Water don’t seem to carry the virus -so far.
It would appear that the Coronavirus doesn’t seem to spread through exposure to food. However, it remains a good idea to wash fruits and vegetables well with running water before you eat them. Scrub them with a brush or your hands to remove any germs that might be on their surface. Be sure to wash your hands after you visit the supermarket or purchase produce. If you have a weakened immune system, it might be smart to buy frozen or canned produce.
As of now, Coronavirus hasn’t been found in drinking water. If it does get into the water supply, most local water treatment plant filters and disinfects applied to the water source should kill any germs.
What You Can Do to Prevent Transmission
Think of how you disinfect an area after being sick. Most people will wash all the bedsheets and constantly clean the countertops and areas that are exposed to the most traffic… Coronaviruses can live on a variety of other surfaces, such as fabrics, and countertops. To reduce your chance of catching or spreading coronavirus, clean and disinfect all surfaces and objects in your home, car, bedroom, and office every day.
- Bathroom fixtures
- Devices (Computers, tablets, iPads)
- Remote controls
- Steering Wheel
- Car Seat and Door handles (inside and out)
If the surfaces are dirty, be sure to clean them first with soap and water, just like you would your hands. Then disinfect them using a household cleaning spray or wipe. (See the steps the CDC recommends for properly disinfecting your home!)
Even if everyone in your household is healthy, it’s still important to keep surfaces clean. As we now know and understand, people who are infected may not show symptoms, but they can still spread the virus onto surfaces, just as they can transmit them to others.
It goes without saying try to stay home. If you have to leave your home, do your best to maintain self-isolation and remember when you visit the supermarket or pick up takeout food, the newspaper or packages on your front porch, make sure to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water. Don’t forget to also wipe down the surface on doorknobs and car handles!