How Long Can Coronavirus Stay On Surfaces In The Home?
Home on the Swan
We curate inspiration for the home, connecting the creative work of artisans and designers to people from places all around the world.
As the current Covid-19 Pandemic tears apart society as we know it, our homes become our haven, our safe place, and the place we seek solace and do our very best to keep our families safe. Here in Australia, as we watch other countries ahead of us in this crisis try their best to contain the spread of illness, it becomes more and more important that we know how to best protect ourselves, our families and our homes.
Understanding the Covid-19 Coronavirus is one of our best weapons for minimising the damage this horrific virus may cause on our homes and on our families. Knowing how the virus spreads, how long it lasts on our furniture or even within the grocery store means that we can do the best we can to prevent becoming infected.
Here at Home on the Swan we’ve gathered the important information, tips and hints on keeping your home virus-free and your family safe and as healthy as can be. In this time of uncertainty and fear, the best weapon we have against this major health crisis is to follow best practice to keep our homes safe and our families healthy.
What Is The Covid-19 Coronavirus?
We’ve all heard the word virus before, and most people would have suffered a viral infection at some point in their lives. From the common cold, to common childhood illness, viral infections are a normal part of being human.
Coronaviruses are a particular group of viruses that infect humans and also some that infect animals. Coronaviruses in humans include relatively minor illnesses such as the common cold, however some Coronaviruses can cause very serious illness. Sometimes on very rare occasions, a Coronavirus that normally infects animals, can cross from animals to infect humans, often causing severe illness, and this is exactly what has happened with Covid-19.
In order to multiply, viruses need a host (animal or human) to duplicate and survive, so they are very well adapted to causing infection between people through droplets that are expelled when an infected person breathes, coughs or sneezes.
Covid-19 isn’t the first Coronavirus to transfer from animals to humans in recent times. Others include the SARS outbreak in 2002, and the MERS outbreak in 2012. The Covid-19 Coronavirus is proving to be a more severe outbreak in both terms of the rate of spread and severity of the illness, especially in older people. It is this increased rate of spread that is causing the overwhelming spread of Covid-19 worldwide.
How Does Coronavirus Spread?
Like other more common viruses and Coronaviruses, Covid-19 spreads through droplet transmission of infected people. This can occur as easily as a cough spreading droplets through the air, or a person coughing into their hands and then touching things around them.
Not only can Covid-19 be spread in public places, but it can also be spread within our homes if infected people visit, or if ourselves or a family member were to contract the illness.
What makes Covid-19 transmission so easy is that people may not realise they are infected early on in the disease, even though they are contagious. With transmission able to occur before a carrier realises they are sick, people unknowingly continue about their daily lives, interacting with friends, family and colleagues and unintentionally passing on the illness.
How To Stop The Transmission Of Covid-19?
Due to the highly infective nature of Covid-19, social isolation and social distancing measures are some of the most effective ways to reduce transmission and keep each other safe and free of illness. If we are not near other people, we can neither catch the illness from them or pass the illness onto them.
If you or your family need to leave home, the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations include social distancing of 1.5 metres between people. This will reduce the risk of someone coughing, sneezing or spreading the virus directly to another person. Similarly if you or a family member have experienced any illness, or signs of Covid-19, sniffles, a cough or fever, then self isolation and staying home is best for everyone.
We know that social distancing isn’t always possible, and that sometimes a person can transmit an illness without even realising that they have it. We also know that if Covid-19 enters the home, there is a huge risk to all of the home’s occupants. There is some solace to be had however in the realisation that cleaning is another simple way to prevent this Coronavirus transfer.
While Covid-19 is a nasty illness that can spread metres in the air and stay on surfaces for an extended period of time, this particular virus is relatively vulnerable to cleaning products, soap, bleach and disinfectant. Other than staying away from others in an attempt to stop the spread of illness, cleaning is our best defence against Coronavirus transmission.
If needing to leave home, there is some risk of touching surfaces which are infected with Covid-19. To prevent transmission, it is important to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water or an alcohol based hand sanitizer and refrain from touching eyes, mouth any part of your face, this helps to minimise the risk of transmission.
Can Coronavirus Be Dangerous At Home?
There are important measures that can be taken to minimise the risk of Coronavirus passing not only between the general public but also between family members, so let’s take a look at how to keep your home as safe as possible, including taking a look at how to keep furniture free from infection.
How To Stop The Transmission Of Covid-19?
If someone in your home has been in contact with a known case of Covid-19 then it is important to keep a very close eye on them for symptoms.
Just as Covid-19 can pass easily between members of the public, it can also pass easily between family members, especially inside the confines of the family home.
For those family members who have been in touch with a known Covid-19 case, it is recommended to undertake social distancing within the home if possible. This is also recommended for family members who fall ill.
Social distancing within the home means taking measures such as confining a sick person to a seperate room where possible, using a seperate toilet, shower and kitchen facilities. The less contact with a person at risk of developing Covid-19 the less risk of transmission to others.
Of course, not everyone has 2 bathrooms or multiple kitchen facilities, so using bleach, disinfectant and other soap cleaners, wearing gloves, practicing hand washing and not coughing or sneezing around common areas will help to prevent the spread of illness as much as possible between family members.
How Long Can Coronavirus Stay On Surfaces In The Home?
So, what happens if Covid-19 enters the home? If someone who lives with us is diagnosed with Coronavirus how do we keep everyone else safe? What if we accidentally bring Coronavirus into the home? How long does the risk last?
How long does the virus stay alive?
We’ve taken a look at the world’s most reputable sources to try and find a definitive answer. Studies have already been underway to find definitive answers on Coronavirus and how long it lasts on surfaces. These studies have found that Covid-19 is detectable from hours right through to days after exposure on a surface.
A report found that Coronavirus RNA was still detectable 17 days after infected passengers had disembarked from the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship, although it also notes that just because the virus is still detectable after 17 days, that doesn’t mean it is still viable and able to cause infection.
The survival time for Covid-19 on surfaces depends on a range of factors such as humidity, temperature, whether the item is inside or outside in the sunlight, and the type of surface. How long can Coronavirus stay on furniture? How long does it last on Kitchen surfaces? Can Covid-19 last on children’s toys? Let’s take a look.
Coronavirus On Plastic: Preliminary studies have found that Covid-19 can last on plastic surfaces up to three days with some level of virus viability. Thinking of all the plastic surfaces in our home, this means that if an infected person was in your home and spread virus particles the virus could survive on items such as toys, kitchenware, television remotes.
The same goes for reusable shopping bags, bottles and containers used to store food, grocery items that are made of plastic, if its made of plastic then without cleaning , Coronavirus may stay live on the surface and be transmitted to household members.
Coronavirus On Cardboard: Studies so far have found that Coronavirus Covid-19 lasts an entire day on cardboard surfaces. For an entire 24 hours, Covid-19 will last on cardboard materials, this could include groceries, or once it has entered the home, it could include books and other everyday household items.
Coronavirus On Stainless Steel & Other Materials: Covid-19 has been found to last around 3 days on stainless steel and similar surfaces, which can include cutlery, benches, door handles and furniture. Again, this is dependent on humidity, temperature and cleaning.
How To Clean Your Home To Reduce The Spread Of Covid-19?
Covid-19 is known as an ‘enveloped virus’, meaning that it has a fat layer to protect it during transmission from person to person. This also means that without the protective fat layer, the virus can’t stay alive. Dissolving the fat layer of the virus will kill it, meaning that it doesn’t survive well if it comes into contact with soap or alcohol. This is good news for fighting against infection.
Cleaning and great hygiene are the best defense for protecting your home and your family against Covid-19. Washing hands with soap and water is the first defense in limiting the transmission of the virus from surfaces. Even if a contaminated surface is touched, if we refrain from touching our faces, and our hands are washed in soap and water properly (for at least 20 seconds) then the virus will be killed before it is transferred and can cause infection.
There are some good hints and tips for optimal cleaning and reducing disease spread.
Cleaner Types: Bleach type household cleaners are effective to clean Coronavirus from home surfaces. This, along with alcoholic cleaners are recommended to rid surfaces of Covid-19. For Alcohol based cleaners, it is recommended that they have an alcohol content over 70% alcohol to be effective.
Regular cleaning and disinfecting with soapy or alcohol based cleaners of commonly used surfaces such as tables, chairs, door handles, light switches, phones, touch screens, keyboards, remote controls, desks, toilets and sinks, and all kitchen surfaces is recommended.
When To Clean: Clean well and clean often. If leaving the house, ensure that shoes worn out to shops and locations where the virus could exist are not worn into the home. Leave shoes outside with the soles facing the sunlight and/or spray with a cleaning spray.
If bringing new groceries or new items into the home, be mindful that if these items have been exposed to a person infected with Coronavirus that the virus may still be viable and on the surface. Cleaning groceries, removing cardboard boxes and disposing of them, and washing hands thoroughly after this is done is highly recommended.
Cleaning Fabric Surfaces: When furniture is made from fabric, bleach or alcohol based cleaning is often not a suitable choice, and in such cases, where infection with Covid-19 is likely, steam cleaning is the recommended option for killing any virus particles.
Be Prepared For Long-Term Awareness
It is likely that the threat of Covid-19 will last for many months until a vaccine is able to be developed. Once a vaccine is developed, based on the last decade, it is likely we may all face similar threats in the future.
The best defense against any infection is thorough cleaning, so getting used to regular and mindful cleaning of the surfaces in our homes is a great place to start with keeping our homes and families safe.
Hopefully for the majority of Australians their homes will never be infected with Covid-19, but it is good practice to treat every new item coming into our homes as though it is a possible form of transmission of the virus, and to keep our furniture and all surfaces of our home clean with products suitable for killing the virus.
One thing we know here at Home On The Swan is that we are doing our part to ensure that our business operates in a way that minimises Covid-19 risk for all, and we’re following these guidelines with our own homes, families and businesses and we hope that everyone stays safe and well during this heartbreaking time. We hope we’ve shed a little bit of insight into things you can do to keep your home, and your family safe.