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How long does COVID-19 last on surfaces?

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Updated 12th April 2021- We recommend the coronavirus page on the NHS website for more up to date information.

Keeping your home clean has never been so important. With the Coronavirus pandemic, you might be wondering how you can keep your family safe. As well as staying home and washing your hands, making sure your house is clean will help prevent germs from spreading. 

We’ll take you through your frequently asked questions, how to keep your home clean, and what to do if you live with others and need to self-isolate. 

Can you contract coronavirus by touching a surface?

Yes, you can catch COVID-19 from surfaces if they’re contaminated. Surfaces and belongings can become contaminated if someone with the virus touches them, coughs or sneezes on them. That’s why it’s important to frequently wash your hands especially after coughing or sneezing, and clean surfaces.

How long can coronavirus live outside the body?

It’s thought that COVID-19 can survive on contaminated surfaces for up to 48 hours. However, the amount of infectious virus on a surface will have decreased significantly in that time.

How long the virus lives on a surface also depends on:

  • the type of surface
  • whether it’s been cleaned
  • temperature and humidity
  • sunlight exposure
  • the time the individual touched the surface
  • how much virus was left by the individual

How long does COVID-19 last on clothes?

The risk of catching COVID-19 from contaminated surfaces and belongings reduces over time. For clothing you should follow the label and wash your clothes as normal.

What surfaces should be cleaned after a symptomatic person has used them?

All surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected after someone with COVID-19 symptoms has used them. For example, your bathroom, door handles, light switches and other items they have touched.

Regularly cleaning can help to lower the spread of COVID-19, especially if you share a space or home with several people. The government advise cleaning frequently touched surfaces twice a day, especially in shared bathrooms and kitchens.

Top 5 tips on home hygiene

Focus on areas where germs are more likely to spread

This is your kitchen and bathrooms. You should use either soap and hot water to rinse the germs away, or a disinfectant to kill them.  

Make sure to dry surfaces including worktops and chopping boards after cleaning. Dampness can help germs to survive on the surface, and if there’s enough water they can multiply.  

Try to clean germ hotspots regularly, such as the toilet seat, handle and rim clean with a disinfectant. Clean your bath and sink frequently too. 

Don't forget to wash what you clean with

Make sure to clean your cloths and sponges, so they don’t spread germs to other surfaces in your home. Wash them at 60c after use. If you use a washing-up brush, wash them in a dishwasher regularly or clean with detergent and warm water after use.  

Food preparation advice

It’s best to ensure the surfaces where you make food are clean before you start preparing anything. If you’re cooking, use separate chopping boards for uncooked food such as raw meat, and any food that doesn’t need cooking like salad leaves. 

Remember to wash and dry your hands after handling goods such as raw meat and clean your surfaces after you’ve used them.  

Washing your clothes

When washing your clothes, all underwear, towels and household linens should be washed at 60c or 40c with a bleach-based washing liquid or tablet to prevent germs. It’s also best to wash your hands after handling dirty laundry.  

Don't forget your kids' toys

Like anything in your house, your children’s toys need to be cleaned. Any hard or plastic toys can be cleaned by washing them and putting them away after they are dry. If they’ve got soft toys, most can be cleaned in the washing machine.   

How to self-isolate when you live with other people

If you or one of your family members has developed symptoms of coronavirus, you will need to self-isolate. This means staying at home, and not going out.

It’s best, if you have symptoms to try:  

  • Staying in a well–ventilated, separate room 
  • Use different crockery and cutlery to your family and use separate towels and make sure to change them regularly  
  • Make sure surfaces are cleaned and washed with your usual cleaning products like detergents and bleach as they are effective at getting rid of the virus on surfaces 
  • Clean frequently touched areas, such as door handles, remote controls or tabletops 

Used tissues and disposal cloths should be stored securely within a rubbish bag, which should then be placed into another bag, tied and then kept separate from other waste. Put this aside for at least 3 days (72 hours) before putting in your usual outside waste bin.  

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If you're displaying symptoms, you can get a free NHS test or you can request a Coronavirus (COVID-19) swab test kit from LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor.

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References

www.plymouthhospitals.nhs.uk/coronavirus https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2020/01/23/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-what-you-need-to-know/
www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings/covid-19-decontamination-in-non-healthcare-settings