Plus, learn how to effectively kill germs.

By Kelly Vaughan
March 12, 2020

While people all across the globe are taking the proper measures to sanitize and disinfect surfaces to prevent contracting coronavirus disease (COVID-19), it's hard to know just how effective these measures are. The Centers for Disease Control and Protection is now explaining exactly how long coronavirus can last on specific surfaces—and what needs to be done to kill the germs.

Pattanaphong Khuankaew/EyeEm/Getty Images

A new study looked at the effectiveness of disinfectant sprays on surfaces for COVID-19. Researchers from the National Institutes of Health, Princeton University, the University of California, and the CDC found that coronavirus could be detected on surfaces up to three hours post-aerosolization, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. Previous research found that coronavirus can live in the air for up to three hours. By comparison, the flu virus can stay active on surfaces for approximately 48 hours.

Related: How to Prepare Your Home for a Pandemic, According to Experts

The less porous a surface, the more likely you are to get the virus on your hands. "You will pick up on your finger 70 percent of the viruses on stainless steel surfaces versus only one percent from a cloth surface or money," says Charles Gerba, a professor of microbiology and immunology at The University of Arizona.

Doctors are reminding people that you're far more likely to get coronavirus when you come in contact with respiratory droplets produced when a nearby infected person coughs or sneezes, according to TODAY, versus contracting it simply by touching a surface where it lands.

Related: What Are the Differences Between Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Disinfecting?

In order to keep your family and your home germ-free, scientists have detailed specific measures that everyone can take to minimize the spread of coronavirus. While face masks are not necessary for anyone who isn't a medical professional or hasn't already contracted coronavirus, everyone should wash their hands for at least 20 seconds using soap and hot water. Scientists also recommend changing your clothes and shoes as soon as you get home, and putting the old pair in the laundry basket so that you keep outside germs outside.

When using a disinfectant spray on a hard surface such as a door knob or tabletop, let it sit on the counter for a couple of minutes so that it has adequate time to kill the germs before you wipe it away. And just this week, Apple released details about how to clean your electronics—"Using a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, you may gently wipe the hard, nonporous surfaces of your Apple product, such as the display, keyboard, or other exterior surfaces. Don't use bleach."

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