- “Wipe right: Use ammonia or alcohol-based products…”
- Bleach is indispensable. “make a bleach-based spray yourself”
- Effective & Affordable, for wipes, hands, shoes, door knobs, etc.
- EPA-registered disinfecting spray, such as one on this list below.
- You can make a DIY bleach cleaning spray according to the CDC
A new study measured the life span of the novel coronavirus on surfaces. Here’s what they found, plus expert advice for cleaning the stuff you touch.
How long can the new coronavirus live on a surface, like say, a door handle, after someone infected touches it with dirty fingers? A study out this week finds that the virus can survive on hard surfaces such as plastic and stainless steel for up to 72 hours and on cardboard for up to 24 hours.
“This virus has the capability for remaining viable for days,” says study author, James Lloyd-Smith, an assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, Los Angeles, who researches how pathogens emerge.
Although the World Health Organization had previously estimated the survival time on surfaces to be a “few hours to a few days” based on research on other coronaviruses, this is the first study by scientists at a federal laboratory to test the actual virus causing the current pandemic, SARS-CoV-2.
The study is out in preprint form and expected to be published.
Interestingly, some surfaces are less hospitable to SARS-CoV-2. FFor instance, the virus remained viable on copper for only about four hours.
Wipe right: Use ammonia or alcohol-based products. Skip the baby wipes
“The good thing about COVID-19 is that it does not require any unique cleaning chemicals to disinfect hands and surfaces,” says Andrew Janowski, an infectious disease expert at Washington University School of Medicine and St. Louis Children’s Hospital. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the current coronavirus,
Good old-fashioned soap and water does the trick.
You can also use a wipe, but make sure you use an alcohol-based wipe, not baby wipes, which may not be effective, Janowski says.
And given that wipes are hard to come by at many stores at the moment, you can instead buy an EPA-registered disinfecting spray, such as one on this list from the Center for Biocide Chemistries, recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and by Dr. David Warren, an infectious disease specialist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
Or make a bleach-based spray yourself. You can make a DIY cleaning spray by mixing 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water, according to the CDC.
Wash. Your. Hands. (Seriously!)
Yes, you’ve heard it a hundred times. So do it, already! Especially after you’ve been out in public, touching a lot of surfaces. Lather up with soap and scrub for 20 seconds. (Two times the “Happy Birthday” song, or sing “Baby Shark” — you’ll get midway through Daddy Shark).
And be thorough. Spend some time rubbing the backs of your hands as well as the front, interlace your fingers and pull them through, soap up each thumb with the opposite hand and, finally, to keep your fingernails virus-free, lightly scratch them against your palm. (For more detail, listen to NPR Short Wave‘s Maddie Sofia give a lesson here.)
Hand-washing is so important that if everyone followed good hand-washing hygiene, it could prevent an estimated 1 in 5 respiratory infections, according to the CDC — that’s the equivalent of about 6 million cases of the flu this year.
Hand sanitizer: DIY in a pinch?
Hand sanitizer is effective at killing viruses, too, although hand-washing is preferred, according to the CDC. If you can’t get to a sink, hand sanitizer is a good backup plan — just make sure it’s at least 60% alcohol.
Given the shortage of hand sanitizers in some stores and reports of price-gouging online, there’s lots of interest in DIY hand sanitizer. We’ve seen lots of recipes calling for a combination of rubbing alcohol and aloe vera gel, like this one from Wired.
“On paper, if a recipe can maintain the alcohol concentration above 60%, it should be effective against SARS-COV-2,” says Andrew Janowski, but he says getting it just right might be trickier than you think. If in doubt when making these homemade sanitizers, soap and water are still effective against the virus.
Your smartphone is like a third hand. Wipe it down