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How long does coronavirus last on different surfaces?

We have cheats to avoid touching people and highly trafficked items like doorknobs. But have you thought about how long the virus lasts on paper, plastic or steel?

WASHINGTON — A study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), tested the longevity of the virus on five different surfaces.  

  1. Steel 
  2. Plastic
  3. Copper
  4. Cardboard
  5. Air

The NIH used a nebulizer to spray the disease into a controlled chamber, to stimulate people spreading germs through sneezes, saliva and fecal matter. 


The study determined that COVID-19 lasts for up to three hours in the air.

But here’s where we need to get really specific. The virus isn’t just floating all around you. The virus is trapped in droplets, like snot for example.

If you touch an area where any of those droplets landed within the last three hours and then touch your face, that's when you make yourself vulnerable to contracting the disease.

Credit: AP
A fan sitting in the rain during a long rain delay sneezes before the start of a baseball game between the Florida Marlins and New York Mets at Citi Field, New York, Monday, May 16, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul J. Bereswill)

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Do you know why cooper door knobs are ideal during a pandemic? It’s because copper has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Because of that, the virus dies within four hours of landing on a copper surface.

Wear marks cover the knob on the front door to the home famed ecologist Aldo Leopold designed and helped build for himself and his wife in Tres Piedras, N.M., nearly a century ago. The U.S. Forest Service opened Leopold's refurbished home to the public on Friday, Aug. 28, 2009, as part of a centennial celebration of his arrival in the Southwest. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)


Boxes made of cardboard and papers you pass around the offices aren’t so helpful. The study says COVID-19 lasts up to 24 hours on those surfaces.

Credit: Matt Sayles/Invision/AP
Boxes of Emmy statuettes are unloaded after arriving on a United Airlines flight at Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016. Over 100 golden statuettes completed the annual "Flight of the Emmys" from Chicago to Los Angeles International Airport for the 68th Emmy Awards. The telecast airs live Sunday, September 18th on ABC from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images)


Steel and plastic are the most concerning surfaces. If someone with COVID-19 spreads the virus to a steel or plastic surface, the study says the virus remains active on that surface for two to three days!

Credit: AP
NFL Super Bowl 54 football game halftime performer Jennifer Lopez gets a water bottle from NFL Vice President of Communications Brian McCarthy at a news conference Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020, in Miami. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

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We’re all about facts, not fear so here’s what you can do to protect yourself and your family.

Wash your hands!

Credit: AP
A sign advices how to wash hands after casinos have been ordered to shut down along the Las Vegas Strip due to the coronavirus Wednesday, March 18, 2020, in Las Vegas. For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. (AP Photo/John Locher)

Post 20 seconds of song lyrics to the mirror in your bathroom. Sing those every time you wash your hands.

Credit: AP
Tony Berastegui, left, and younger sister Giselle take a break from doing their school work at home to wash their hands as the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has forced schools to close Monday, March 16, 2020, in Laveen, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

If you’re not near a sink, hand sanitizer is your best bet. Just make sure it dries before you start touching things.

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