How Long Does the Coronavirus Last on Surface

How Long Does the Coronavirus Last on Surface

How long does the coronavirus last on surface? It is the question that surrounds the mind of people after studies indicated the high chances of surface-to-human transmission. Scientists believe CoVID-19 can transmit from a highly contaminated surface to your hands and then enter the body. The disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 spreads easily from one person to another when they come in close contact. It mainly occurs when the respiratory droplets from an infected person lands on another person.

The respiratory droplets from coughing, sneezing, or talking can spread the virus. But, when these droplets fall on the hard surfaces, it contaminates it. After you touch the contaminated surface and then touch your face, nose, mouth, or eyes, the virus enters your body. It is essential to know how long the SARS-CoV-2 stays alive on a different surface and the precautions you need to take. Read ahead to learn more on the time coronavirus last on surface and how to handle the problem.

Detecting The Infectious Dose Of Coronavirus

coronavirus last on surface While you cannot figure out the exact COVID-19’s infectious dose, you can take some steps to eliminate them. Remember, viruses cannot survive independently. They need a living host to grow and multiply. So, the virus invades humans or animals, hijack it, and produce more. When a SARS-CoV-2 infected person coughs or sneezes, the viral droplets lands on the surface around them. Studies suggest that droplets can travel for several meters. But, when they land of non-living surfaces, the outcome is different from the living hosts. Depending on the type of surface they land, the virus can die quickly. The viral deposits from the cough reduce considerably after a few days. So, it is a thousand times less than that the original viral deposits.

Most of the time, the virus detectable on the surface cannot make someone sick. But, the virus can transfer on your hands. From your hands, the virus can enter your body through eyes, nose, or mouth. So, when you touch your face, nose, eyes, or mouth after touching the contaminated surface, it can result in contracting the infection. No clear data exist to detect the infectious dose required to trigger an infection in your body.

How Long Does The Coronavirus Last On Surfaces?

How Long Does The Coronavirus Last On Surfaces SARS-CoV-2 is a new strain of the virus. So, studies and research are still ongoing into the different aspects of the virus. So, many studies are still underway to detect the time the virus can live on the surfaces. To major studies are published on the topic. The findings can offer insight on the time the virus can survive on different surfaces. The NEJM (New England Journal of Medicine) published its findings based on the standard amount of virus in an aerosolized form on different surfaces. Another study used contaminated droplets with a set amount of droplets onto the surface. The Lancet published the findings. For both the studies, the scientists used incubated viruses on different surfaces. The study used samples collected at different time intervals.

The sample of the virus was also used to calculate the viable virus amount required for infection. While it is possible to detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2 on several surfaces for a particular length of time, the viability depends on different factors. So, environmental and other conditions can affect the viability of the virus.

How Long Does The Coronavirus Last On Surface Like Plastic?

You tend to use objects made of plastic every day. Some of the common plastic things you handle each day are:

  • Water bottles
  • Food packaging
  • Milk containers
  • Remote controls
  • Credit cards
  • Light switches
  • Video game controllers
  • Computer keyboard
  • Mouse
  • Toys
  • ATM buttons

You tend to use other plastic objects other than the ones mentioned above. Based on the studies, the results vary. The NEJM articles indicated that SARS-CoV-2 can live on plastic for up to three days. But, the study published in Lancet detected the virus can live longer than three days. The study suggests that on plastic objects, the coronavirus last on surface up to seven days

Metal Surfaces

The wide variety of objects you use every day contain metal. The most common metals you come in contact with are copper and stainless steel. The examples of such objects include:

Copper Objects

  • Cookware
  • Coins
  • Electric wires
  • Jewelry

Stainless Steel

  • Metal handrails
  • Door handles
  • Keys
  • Refrigerators
  • Pots
  • Cutlery
  • Pans
  • Industrial equipment

While the NEJM article found that no viable virus could be detected on stainless steel after 3 days, researchers for the Lancet article detected a viable virus on stainless steel surfaces for up to 7 days. Studies conducted for NJEM also assessed the stability of the SARS-CoV-2 virus on copper surfaces. The studies detected decreased stability of the virus on copper. So, no investigators detected no viable virus presence on copper after four houses.

How Long Does The Coronavirus Last On Surface Like Paper?

During the COVID-19 outbreak, many people feared reading newspapers. Before going into the details, let us see some of the common paper product you use:

  • Letters
  • Paper money
  • Stationery
  • Newspapers
  • Magazines
  • Paper Towels
  • Tissues
  • Toilet paper

The Lancet study found that no viable virus could be found on printing paper or tissue paper after 3 hours. However, the virus could be detected on paper money for up to 4 days.

Glass Surface

We touch several surfaces made of glass every day. The list includes the following:

  • Mirrors
  • Windows
  • Drinkware
  • Computer screens
  • Screens of smartphones or TVs

According to the article published in Lancet, the viral presence disappeared after four days on the glass surfaces.

Cardboard Surfaces

People can come in contact with several cardboard surfaces like shipping boxes or food packaging. According to the NEJM study, the virus inactivates from the cardboard surface after 24 hours.

Wooden Objects And Surfaces

The common wooden objects and surfaces you find in the home are shelves, furniture, and tabletops. The study published in Lancet indicates the viability of the virus on the wooden surface for up to two days. So, investigators failed to find the presence of the virus on such surfaces after 2 days.

Link Of Temperature And Humidity On The Coronavirus

Temperature and humidity can impact the lifespan of coronavirus. According to different studies, the SARS-CoV-2 virus survives only for a shorter time at high humidity and temperature levels. According to the study published in the Lancet, the virus remained stable at low temperatures like 4 degrees Celsius (about 39 degrees Fahrenheit). But, it started to rapidly inactivate when the temperature increased to 70 degrees Celsius (about 158 degrees Fahrenheit). But, it does not mean that people suffering from the infection need to stand outside in the sun. It can only result in heat stroke or developing other skin problems.

How Long Does The Coronavirus Last On Other Surfaces?

Are other surfaces dangerous? According to the reports published in Lancet, the virus becomes inactive when it remains in the cloth for more than two days. But, the virus can transfer from the clothes to your hands. So, you need to wash your clothes if you fail to maintain proper physical distance from others or someone coughs or sneezes near you. If you care for a COVID-19 patient, then you need to wash their clothes separately using detergent and hot water to avoid any fear of transmission. Dry the clothes well before putting them away.

According to a study published that assess the surfaces of hospital surfaces, the floors tested positive for SARS-Cov-2. An increased concentration of the virus on the hospital floor increases the risk of transfer to other surfaces like shoes. So, people working or visiting hospitals can unknowingly bring SARS-CoV-2 to their home with their shoes. So, you need to remove the shoes at the front door once you get back home. You must also consider wiping the soles of the shoes to eliminate the presence of the virus using a disinfectant wipe after you go out.

How Long Does The Coronavirus Last On Surface Of Food And Water?

Most people wonder if the coronavirus can last on surfaces like food or drinking water. So, can the virus survive on such surfaces? The group of viruses cannot survive on food products as well as the packings. But, it is important to maintain caution. So, you need to handle the food packaging carefully. You may come in contact with contaminated food packaging. While studies have no conclusive evidence indicating the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from food or food packaging to humans. But, you need to follow proper food safety guidelines like:

Handle Groceries With Care

Handle Groceries With Care

You need to wash fresh fruits and vegetables thoroughly using clean water. Always follow the rule of thumb to clean the fruits or vegetables when you plan to eat them raw. Use disinfectant wipes on surfaces like glass, plastic, or other food packaging items after you purchase them from the supermarket.

Wash Your Hands

Wash Your Hands

It is important to keep your hands clean from pathogens by washing your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water, especially in food-related situations. So, you need to maintain good hand hygiene in the following cases:

  • After storing or handling groceries
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after preparing food

Can Coronavirus Survive On Water?

Can Coronavirus Survive On Water

It remains unclear how long the SARS-CoV-2 can survive in water. According to a study conducted on finding the survival rate of the virus in filtered tap water, the virus failed to survive ten days at room temperature. The SARS-CoV-2 levels in the water reduced to 99.9% after the period suggested. The study also indicated the inability of the virus to survive in high temperatures and its stability at low temperatures.

So how can you make drinking water safe? Always drink treated or boiled water. Treating or boiling the water inactivates the virus. While investigations have not yet detected the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in drinking water, you need to maintain caution.

Is Coronavirus Viable When It Remains On Surfaces?

It is the most asked question as people fear to touch any surface due to the risk of contracting COVID-19. Just because a surface has SARS-CoV-2 on it does not mean you will contract it. But, it is important to maintain caution. SARS-CoV-2 viruses are enveloped. So, they are sensitive to environmental conditions. Due to changes in the environmental conditions, the virus may lose stability as time progresses. So, it means as time passes, more and more SARS-CoV-2 viral particles accumulating on a surface becomes inactive. For example, the NEJM study detects the viable virus on the stainless steel for up to three days. But, the actual titer (amount of virus) dropped drastically after two days on the same surface.

It does not mean you have to drop your guard. The studies still have not established the amount of SARS-CoV-2 needed to develop an infection. So, to keep yourself safe, you need to maintain caution while touching the contaminated surfaces or objects. Wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer to keep your hands clean after touching the surface. To keep your home free from harmful pathogens, you need to clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces.

Cleaning To Avoid Coronavirus Last On Surface

Cleaning To Avoid Coronavirus Last On Surface

Cleaning and disinfecting the various surfaces with a high risk of SARS-CoV-2 contamination can eliminate the possibility of infection. Since it remains unknown how long coronavirus last on the surface (from several hours to several days), you need to clean the surfaces effectively. Here are some of the tips you need to follow for efficient and effective cleaning to reduce your risk of infection.

Things You Need To Clean To Avoid Coronavirus Last On Surface

When you clean, always focus on the high-touch surface. They are the surfaces or things in your home that you or your family members touch frequently. So, clean the areas that you come in contact with during your daily activities. Some areas you need to focus on includes:

  • Light switches
  • Doorknobs
  • Handles on appliances (like refrigerator or oven)
  • Toilets
  • Sinks and faucets
  • Desks and tables
  • Countertops
  • Computer keyboard
  • Staircase railings
  • Mouse
  • Handheld electronics like tablets, phones, video game controllers
  • Other contaminated objects, clothes, or surfaces

If you suspect contamination, then clean the area and disinfect it. Also, wear disposable gloves before you start cleaning and throw them away after cleaning. If you do not have gloves, then ensure you wash your hands with soap and water after cleaning.

Best Method To Clean And Reduce Coronavirus Last On Surface

SARS-CoV-2 is a new strain that remains elusive to scientists. So, scientists are still trying to uncover the details of the virus. But, some studies indicate the duration the virus can live on different surfaces. According to the studies, the virus persists for a long time on stainless steel and plastic surfaces. It is less stable on paper, cloth, and cardboard. Since it is unclear how long the virus can stay alive in food or water, no documented cases exist indicating the transmission of the virus from drinking water, food packaging, or food. The exact dose leading to the development of infection in people remains unclear. So, you need to remain cautious and maintain proper hand hygiene and ensure proper cleaning as well as disinfecting of potentially contaminated or high touch household surfaces. Here are some of the options to reduce coronavirus last on the surface:

General Guidelines For Cleaning For Avoiding Coronavirus Last On Surface

You need to follow the general cleaning guidelines for keeping all surfaces clean and free from harmful pathogens that can cause infections, including SARS-CoV-2:

  • Discard highly contaminated items instead of cleaning or disinfecting them.
  • Throw all disposable cleaning items after using them.
  • After touching tissues, emptying wastebaskets, and other waste items, wash your hands.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. Use soap and water to clean your hands. Rub your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds.
  • In the absence of soap and water, you need to opt for a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Avoid Coronavirus Last On Surface Like Food And Water

You need to handle food and water with extra care. While it is highly that SARS-CoV-2 will infect through food or water, you have to take precautions to ensure you avoid any other diseases. So, clean the utensils to prepare as well as serve food. Boil water and cook food at high temperatures. Also, avoid consuming expired food items.

Tips To Disinfect Porous Materials And Avoid Coronavirus Last On Surface

Disinfect Porous Materials And Avoid Coronavirus

You can launder clothing and other soft, porous materials. Compared to other hard surfaces, the coronavirus last on surfaces like cloth for less time. But, follow the instructions to avoid transmission, especially when you have someone with COVID-19 in your family:

  • Place clothes and other soft materials in a sealed plastic bag until you launder it.
  • Wash such items used by people with the infection separately.
  • Lauder using hot water and detergent, specifically containing color-safe bleach for better protection.
  • Dry outside in sunlight or on high heat.

Tips To Eliminate Virus From Surfaces With No Washing Options

In some cases, you have soft, porous materials difficult to wash. So, you need to keep such surfaces clean and free from harmful pathogens. You can follow the suggestion to clean areas like couches, carpets, and other porous surfaces:

  • Vacuum such surfaces to avoid dust from spreading into the air.
  • If body fluids spill on the surface, then opt for spot-clean techniques and follow the safety procedures.
  • You need to deep clean carpets while you avoid splashing.
  • As needed, you can use steam cleaners to clean carpets as well as other porous surfaces.

Suggestions To Clean Hard, Non-Porous Areas To Avoid Coronavirus Last On Surface

For cleaning the non-porous, hard surfaces, you need to use a cleaner. Apart from that, you need to follow the guidelines:

  • You have to follow the instructions provided on the cleaning containers.
  • Before using the disinfectant solution, you need to first clean the surface with soap and water. It will remove all the visible stains and debris from the surface.
  • After using the soap, you need to rinse the surface with clean water. Then, wipe down the surface using a clean towel.
  • Apply the disinfectant to kill the virus effectively. While you use disinfectant, ensure the surface remains wet with the disinfectant. It must stay on the surface for at least ten minutes before you wipe it off from the surface with a clean towel. If you are unable to get an EPA registered disinfectant, then you can use the alternative option of using bleach solution (with 2% chlorine). If you are using alcohol-based disinfectants, then you need to know that they evaporate quickly. So, they may not offer complete disinfection when you fail to follow the instructions.
  • Use water to rinse the surface and allow it to air dry. If you are cleaning the counters where you prepare food, then you need to rinse the surface after the use of a disinfectant.
  • The mop heads you use to clean the surface needs cleaning with soap as well as hot water. You need to sanitize with an EPZ-registered disinfectant or bleach solution. It is important to dry it. If possible, you need to use a single-use, disposable cloths or mop heads as an alternative.
  • After you clean and disinfect the surface, remove the gloves and discard them in a garbage can after placing it in a trash bag.
  • Wash your hands after removing the gloves. It is also essential to wash your hands after handling any contaminated materials, waste, or trash.
Using Bleach Solution To Avoid Coronavirus Last On Surface

It is important to use household cleaning products or disinfectants to clean the surfaces in your home. You have to follow the instructions provided on the label. Also, use the product only on the surface suggested on the label. You can use a household bleach solution on appropriate surfaces. If you are mixing bleach solution by yourself, then you can follow the suggestions provided below:

  • For a gallon of water use 1/3rd cup of bleach
  • Per quart of water use four tablespoons of bleach

Always follow the instruction provided by the electronic manufacturer when you clean such devices. If instructions are not available, then you need to use an alcohol-based wipe or ethanol (70%) spray to clean the electronic items. After cleaning, you need to dry them thoroughly. It is essential to eliminate the liquid from accumulating inside the device. Similarly, when you wash your clothes, then use your regular detergent. But, while washing, you need to use warm water (select the setting when using washing machine appropriate). You need to dry the clothes outside in sunlight if possible before putting them away.


Since SARS-CoV-2 is a new strain, the scientific community does not know the viral characteristics. Therefore, studies are still progressing to understand the impact of the virus. The time the coronavirus last on the surface is a topic under investigation. To remain on the safer side, it is essential to follow all the guidelines and eliminate the possibility of transmission from the surface to humans.

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