The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is mainly spread from person to person. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, it sends droplets containing the virus into the air. A healthy person can inhale these droplets. You can also become infected with the virus if you touch the surface or object on which the virus is located, and then touch your mouth, nose, or eyes.
Coronavirus: what you need to know
The coronavirus can live for hours to days on surfaces such as countertops and door handles. How long it survives depends on the material the surface is made of.
Here’s a guide on how long coronaviruses — a family of viruses that includes the virus that causes COVID-19 — can live on some surfaces that you probably access on a daily basis. Keep in mind that researchers still have a lot to learn about the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. For example, they don’t know whether exposure to heat, cold, or sunlight affects life expectancy on the surface.
Examples: door handles, jewelry, silverware
Examples: furniture, parquet
Examples: packaging, such as milk containers and detergent bottles, subway and bus seats, backpacks, elevator buttons
- Stainless steel
Examples: refrigerators, pots and pans, sinks
Examples: packing boxes
Examples: coins, teapots, dishes
Examples: soda cans, foil, water bottles
From 2 to 8 hours
Examples: glasses, measuring cups, mirrors, windows
Up to 5 days
Examples: dishes, vases, mugs
The length of time varies. Some coronavirus strains live on paper for only a few minutes, while others live up to 5 days.
It’s a good idea to wash fruits and vegetables under running water before eating them. Wipe them with a brush or hands to remove any germs that may be on their surface. Wash your hands after visiting the supermarket. If you have a weakened immune system, you can buy frozen or canned food.
The coronavirus was not detected in drinking water. If it gets into the water supply system, the water treatment plant will filter and disinfect the water, which should kill the germs.
Coronaviruses can live on a variety of other surfaces, such as fabrics and countertops.
What can you do
To reduce the likelihood of infection or spread of coronavirus, clean and disinfect all surfaces and objects in your home and office every day. This includes:
- door handles
- phone numbers
- control panels
Use a household cleaning spray, and if the surfaces are dirty, first clean them with soap and water, and then disinfect.
Keep surfaces clean, even if everyone in your home is healthy. Infected people may not show symptoms, but they can still spread the virus on the surface.
After you visit a pharmacy or supermarket, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water.
Coronavirus infection: diagnosis and treatment
Questions about the coronavirus