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How long can the Coronavirus survive on surfaces?

Medically reviewed by Melisa Puckey, BPharm. Last updated on March 16, 2023.

How long can the Coronavirus survive on surfaces?

Official answer


Covid-19 is the illness caused by a new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).

To help stop the spread of the coronavirus infection it is important to know how long the coronavirus survives on surfaces before it is no longer contagious. A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine tested how long the coronavirus can survive on the surface of plastic, stainless steel, copper and cardboard.

A specific amount of coronavirus was applied to the different types of surfaces and they measured the time it took to go from application time, to a level of no viable viruses left.

  • Copper: approximately 4 hours
  • Cardboard: approximately 24 hours
  • Stainless steel: over 40 hours
  • Plastic: over 70 hours

Another article suggests that human coronaviruses on surfaces can remain infectious for up to 9 days at normal room temperature.

Because the coronavirus is so new, more studies need to be done so we can get an accurate idea of how long it lasts in different conditions. We still don’t know how long coronavirus will last on other surfaces like our clothes, our pets, courier parcels and other materials so until more information becomes available we need to be actively using good hand hygiene.

How do we become infected with coronavirus from surfaces?

We know that when an infected person coughs or sneezes the tiny droplets containing coronavirus are released out through the nose and mouth which can settle on people or any surfaces around them. The virus can also be passed out of the body through the digestive system so faecal matter can be infective.

You can become infected by coronavirus if you touch these contaminated surfaces and then touch your mouth, nose or eyes.

If you are concerned about any surfaces being contaminated with coronavirus what do you do?

As the coronavirus is thought to last or remain viable anywhere from 4 hours to 9 days it is important any high touch surfaces like doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, sink benches etc are cleaned and disinfected regularly. Keyboards, remotes and mobile phones are also high touch surfaces and should be regularly cleaned and disinfected to prevent coronavirus spread. Apple recommends that you can use a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe or Chlorox Disinfecting Wipes to gently wipe the hard surfaces such as display and keyboards.

Bottom line:

One of the most important ways to avoid becoming infected with coronavirus is to follow good hand hygiene practices and to regularly wash and dry your hands using soap and water or use an alcohol-base and rub. This is especially important if you have touching anything that may have been contaminated with coronavirus.

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