Cleaning COVID-19: How long it can last on your home's surfaces

CDC recommends disinfecting 'high-touch' areas
Posted at 9:49 PM, Mar 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-31 21:49:31-04

As coronavirus cases rise in the U.S. and more people are staying home, health experts recommend disinfecting surfaces you touch every day to prevent the spread of the virus.

First, there’s a big difference between cleaning, or removing dirt and grime, and disinfecting, which involves killing germs.

Also important to note is the fact that COVID-19 transmits primarily through close contact with others and through droplets, not contact with contaminated surfaces.

Droplets can come from coughing, sneezing and breathing, and they can land on the noses and mouths of other people to further spread the virus, according to experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,

Still, according to the National Institute of Health and the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, coronavirus can live on:

  • Glass for four days.
  • Plastic and stainless steel for three days.
  • Cardboard for 24 hours.
  • Copper for four hours.

The World Health Organization says it’s still unlikely that you would catch COVID-19 from touching a package or your mail. That’s because your deliveries have most likely been moved, and as it travels, it’s been exposed to different conditions and temperatures.

And historically speaking, copper has been used in hospitals as an effective way to ward off illness since viruses can’t survive long on copper.

To protect yourself from coronavirus, the CDC recommends disinfecting “high-touch” areas, including:

  • Door handles
  • Light switches
  • Tables
  • Chairs
  • Desks
  • Toilets
  • Sinks
  • Phones
  • Mobile devices and tablets
  • Remote controls
  • Keyboards

You can find more surfaces you should clean and EPA-approved cleaning products on the CDC’s coronavirus webpage here.

But to reiterate, the coronavirus is not surface-oriented. The best way to avoid contracting COVID-19 is to avoid the droplets that transmit it, and the best way to avoid those is to keep your distance from others and stay inside.