Here's How Long Coronavirus Stays on Plastic, Cardboard, and More Surfaces

A new study reveals which surfaces COVID-19 remains on the longest and the results may surprise you.

circle

We all know by now that coronavirus is incredibly contagious. And you've certainly heard the very important guidelines on how best to avoid the spread of COVID-19: 1) Wash your hands, 2) Avoid touching your face, 2) Maintain social distance, and 4) Keep your home surfaces clean and disinfect frequently. But which surfaces are most conducive for COVID-19, and therefore, most important to disinfect? If you've been wondering how long coronavirus can stay on plastic water bottles, cardboard boxes, and other household items you're encountering every day, a brand-new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has the answers.

Scientists from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UCLA, and Princeton University attempted to mimic the coronavirus being deposited from an infected person onto everyday surfaces (like through coughing or touching objects). Then they investigated how long the virus remained infectious on those surfaces. Here's what they found.

1
Plastic: Up to 3 days

chopping onions on a plastic cutting board things you should clean every day
Shutterstock

Plastic surfaces are one of the most conducive for coronavirus. The study shows that the virus can live for up to 72 hours on plastic.

So any plastic surfaces you have in your home—cutting boards, shampoo bottles, kitchen utensils, etc.—should be your highest priority to keep clean.

2
Stainless Steel: Up to 3 days

to-do list on refrigerator
Shutterstock

What kitchen isn't complete without stainless steel appliances? Unfortunately though, stainless steel surfaces are also very conducive to coronavirus, as the study shows that it can live for up to 72 hours on your refrigerator and dishwasher handles and stainless steel cookware as well.

3
Cardboard: Up to 24 hours

woman holding an amazon prime box - amazon prime day deals
Shutterstock

Those Amazon boxes laying around your garage and front door? Turns out they present a furtive place for coronavirus to exist. According to the study, coronavirus can live on cardboard for up to 24 hours. That also means your paper towel and toilet paper rolls can contain the virus for the same amount of time.

4
Copper: Up to 4 hours

A Dining Room with a Copper Red Accent Wall Worst Paint Colors
Shutterstock

Copper is not the most common surface in one's home, and fortunately, pennies are now mostly made from zinc. But how conducive is copper for coronavirus? Not very. The study shows that the virus can live on copper for up to four hours.

5
The air: Up to 3 hours

woman sneezing on couch, contagious conditions
Shutterstock

Of course, air is not a surface. But "aerosol" transmission of coronavirus has been something of a controversy. The World Health Organization (WHO) has claimed that "COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through contact with respiratory droplets rather than through the air." But liquid particulates of COVID-19 do continue to live in the air for up to three hours, according to this study.

Filed Under
Best Life
Live smarter, look better,​ and live your life to the absolute fullest.
Get Our Newsletter Every Day!
Enter your email address to get the best tips and advice.
close modal
close modal
GET YOUR FREE GIFT
SUBSCRIBE