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Disinfecting Viruses Like COVID-19 + How Long It Survives on Surfaces

May 11, 2020 by The Parrish Law Firm

To say disinfecting products are in high demand may be the biggest understatement of 2020. In fact, Clorox has ramped up production to manufacture 40 million more disinfecting products in Q1 of 2020 as compared to Q1 2019. There’s a 500%+ increase in demand for disinfectants since March 2020 alone. Though the demand for any and all products that have the words Clorox or Lysol written on them is high, we had a few questions, and we needed answers. These questions are: 1. Which disinfectants work to deactivate the novel coronavirus? 2. How long is COVID-19 infectious on different surfaces?

Let’s get into it!

Which Disinfectants Work to Deactivate COVID-19

In order to determine whether your disinfectants are able to kill COVID-19, you can use the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) list of disinfectants to use against SARS-CoV-2. If you are unable to get ahold of products marketed as disinfectants, you can instead use common household products to sanitize your home’s surfaces. 

One such method is to make a mixture of soap and water and scrub the surfaces that need to be disinfected with strong friction. You can also use diluted bleach (1/2 cup of bleach per 1 gallon of water) to disinfect surfaces, but keep in mind certain surfaces are not very bleach-friendly. It’s best to use this solution within 24 to 36 hours because bleach becomes less effective with time. Have isopropyl alcohol? Then you can use 70% isopropyl alcohol to wet your surfaces for at least 30 seconds to disinfect. Finally, 3% hydrogen peroxide is highly effective at deactivating rhinovirus in 8 minutes, which is much harder to destroy than COVID-19, so it should break down coronavirus in less time. 

How Long is Coronavirus Infectious on Various Surfaces

Even if all of us are responsibly practicing social distancing and staying at home, we still need to bring food into our homes. We also need to order supplies from Amazon, Walmart, Target or various other retailers. This means we’re bringing plastic bags, boxes and various other types of packaging into our homes and some of it could be contaminated with COVID-19. This leads to our next question: How long can coronavirus survive on various surfaces such as wood, metal, plastic, cardboard, etc. 

Thus far, there have been varying results from many studies on this topic. After doing some thorough research on this topic, we found WebMD’s guidelines on this to be some of the the most well studied and reliable information. It’s important to note that hard surfaces tend to hang on to viruses longer than soft, porous surfaces. 

How long COVID-19 most likely survives on surfaces:

  • Metal such as doorknobs, jewelry, tools, silverware, etc — 5 days
  • Glass such as drinking ware, windows, mirrors, etc. — 5 days
  • Wood such as decks, furniture, desks, etc. — 4 days
  • Plastic such as bags, milk cartons, shampoo, chips packaging, etc. — 3 days
  • Stainless steel such as refrigerators, sinks, pots, etc. — 3 days
  • Cardboard such as packages and shipping boxes — 24 hours
  • Food — there is no evidence that coronavirus lives on food or that one can be infected by contact with food, but to be safe, purchase non-perishables at least 3 days before you plan to consume them. Create a COVID-defense corner and let your non-perishable products sit for a few days before eating them. 

At the end of the day, person-to-person contact is the most likely method of transmission when it comes to the novel coronavirus spreading. Spread involving object to person is highly unlikely; however, it’s always better to be more cautious than to regret it later. For guidelines on how frequently to disinfect, the CDC recommends that we wipe down commonly used surfaces in the home 3 times a day. These include doorknobs, light switches, kitchenware and appliances, garage door openers, bathroom sinks and toilet handles, phones, tablets, computers and tv remotes. Remember, it’s always safer to be over-cautious than under-cautious. We hope this guide is helpful and are we wish you safety and health!

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