According to a recent study from scientists at a federal laboratory, SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing the current coronavirus pandemic, can live on plastic and stainless steel surfaces for up to 72 hours, on cardboard for up to 24 hours, and on copper, which can kill viruses and bacteria for up to 4 hours.
Another 2020 study says that SARS and MERS can thrive on metal, plastic, and glass surfaces at room temperature for four to five days, and depending on temperature and humidity, can survive for up to nine days.
Todd Nega, MD, an infectious disease specialist at NorthShore University HealthSystem says that the duration of which harmful germs live on surfaces “very specific to the pathogen, environmental factors like humidity, and also what surface it’s on.”
Experts do not know how long viruses can live on fabrics, but what they do know is that the duration is shorter relative to steels and plastics. It also depends on what kind of material the fabric is made from.
A 2015 study observed how fungi and bacteria-contaminated different kinds of fabrics in various industrial facilities, stables, homes, and a zoo.
They found that synthetic, semi-synthetic, and silk fibers, which are smoother fibers, had less microbes relative to wool, hemp, or cotton.
Nega says that avoiding physical contact is very important, especially in health care settings.
“This is why we’re very careful with contact isolation in hospital. In healthcare, we look at not contaminating things versus decontaminating them.”
Some experts are advocating to change clothes when you’ve been to large groups of people to avoid any further problems as it relates to diseases and infections.
Tabletops, doorknobs, countertops, sinks, and glass should be cleaned with alcohol-based disinfecting wipes or solutions that are at least 70% alcohol, diluted bleach solutions, or other disinfecting products registered by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says the CDC. It’s also recommended to always wear gloves, and always see if you have enough solution to clean the surface.
A study published in 2020 in the Journal of Small Animal Practice says that washing clothes at 86 degrees Fahrenheit “significantly decreases, but does not eliminate, the bacterial burden,”
Use bleach or color-safe bleach diluted with water to completely sanitize fabrics. Putting clothes through a drying cycle also eliminates germs.
The sun’s ultraviolet light has been known to kill certain bacteria so letting your clothes dry outside is also just as effective.
In the event that someone that lives in your home gets sick, it is highly recommended to disinfect your laundry basket and even your washing machine.