How long does coronavirus last on surfaces?

This new coronavirus spreads when a sick person coughs or sneezes invisible droplets into the air. These droplets can be inhaled by another person or they might land on a nearby surface. If you touch this surface and then touch your mouth or eyes, you might become sick with COVID-19, too.

So for how long do these viral droplets stick around our environment? A recent study on the new coronavirus shows that it can survive for up to 3 hours in the air, anywhere from 4 to 24 hours on cardboard, and for up to 3 days on plastic and stainless steel. Another study reviewed the research on viruses similar to the one causing COVID-19 and found that those viruses can survive on metal, glass, or plastic for up to 9 days.

Fortunately, we know from research about other coronaviruses that common household cleaners are good at inactivating these bugs. As my friend -- Dr. Juan Leon at Emory University -- explained in a recent interview with Science Magazine, household disinfectants break up the protective fat layer that envelops all coronaviruses. And the good news is that they are kind of wimpy viruses, so your usual cleaning products are a good defense against this one. If you’re unsure, you can search this EPA website to see if your favorite household cleaner works against the novel coronavirus.