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How Long Can the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Live On Surfaces?

Medically reviewed by Susan Kerrigan, MD and Marianne Madsen

If you’ve been out and about or even just listening to the news the past few weeks, you may be well aware that there is both a shortage of toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Other types of cleaning supplies are also flying off the shelves as people are preparing for the reality of self quarantine and want to make sure that they’re ready. Even more than stocking up on bathroom supplies, stocking up on cleaning supplies is actually a wise move.

According to the World Health Organization, while nobody is completely certain about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) yet, it does seem to behave like other coronaviruses that are out there. That means that the virus itself is able to survive on surfaces like your countertops and the seats of a subway car anywhere from several hours up to a few days. The variables that can affect the length of time are the types of surface, temperature, and humidity. 

With this uncertainty, having cleaning supplies handy at home means the ability to wage war against the spread of this disease is only a spritz away. First, it is advisable to wash your hands with regular old soapy water. Barring that, using something like hand sanitizer can be effective until you can properly wash your hands. And then, fire away with your disinfectant at will. Disinfectant has been shown to be effective at killing the virus and protecting yourself and the rest of your household from getting infected.

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