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How Long Do Viruses Live on Surfaces?


How long do viruses pose a threat to your health? The answer depends on so many variables that it’s impossible to give exact answers. But there are general guidelines for all viruses and the amount of time a virus can live on different surfaces might surprise you.

"Flu season has always made people a little more wary of handshakes and shared items, but the global COVID-19 health pandemic has elevated that fear even further. Doorknobs, desks, and public areas become suspects, even within one’s own home. But how long can viruses live on these surfaces?

A note: In this article, when we say a virus “dies” we are indicating that the virus is no longer infectious. In some cases the virus can remain intact much longer, but is harmless after the points the data here describes. Industry grade sanitizer, however, truly kills the virus by destroying the lipid membrane that acts as its “skin,” whether or not the virus was contagious."

Viruses Vary

"Viruses vary widely in function, shape, and, as you would expect, the amount of time they can survive on a surface outside a host body. We’ll give you general statistics for several viruses, including flu, herpes, norovirus, rhinoviruses, and coronaviruses. Of course, viruses in the same family can vary drastically (just look at the coronavirus family — one coronavirus causes a common cold, another causes a worldwide pandemic) but we give general information so you can get a better understanding of how long a virus can survive on various surfaces."

Environment Matters

"Environmental factors also come into play. Flu viruses may die quickly in the warm summer air, but during frigid winter days, they can survive for hours. This is part of the reason influenza is seasonal.

Environmental factors that may affect how long a virus lives on surfaces include surface type, temperature, humidity, and of course if any surface or air has been treated with an antimicrobial solution.

Viruses will survive longer on hard, smooth surfaces than on soft, porous ones. A virus will have more trouble surviving in your carpet than on your kitchen sink."

How Long Do Viruses Live on Surfaces?

How Long Do Viruses Live on Surfaces   How Long Do Viruses Live on Surfaces

Boost your Home & Business Health with Chem-Dry

"Chem-Dry of Michiana's hospital grade sanitizing solution meets the EPA criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19. Our processes and solutions are safe for your homes and businesses surfaces. With proper treatment, you can keep your home’s  and business's surfaces free of infectious viruses, pandemic-causing or otherwise."

Infographic text: All times are approximate

"Influenza - Seasonal flu: Hard surfaces - 24 hours, Soft surfaces - 15 minutes to several hours, Skin - 5-15 minutes, Air - 1-24+ hours (longer in colder air)

Herpes - cold sores and skin blisters: Hard, dry surfaces - up to 8 weeks, hard, humid surfaces - 1-5 hours, skin - 2 hours,

Rotavirus - Year-round stomach bug: Hard, dry surfaces, - 8 hours, Hard, wet surfaces - 2 weeks+, Skin - 4 hours.

Norovirus - Winter stomach bug: Hard, dry surfaces - 2 weeks, Still water - up to months

Rhinovirus - Common colds: Hard surfaces - 24 hours, Soft surfaces - 3 hours, Skin - 3 hours

Coronaviruses - Common colds, COVID-19, and SARS: Hard surfaces - up to 3 days, Soft surfaces - 24 hours, Skin - 3-9 hours, depending on virus, Air - 3 hours"

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