The recent pandemic of the novel coronavirus disease of COVID-19 has left everyone in a scare. The health officials are reminding us to wash our hands and disinfect our surroundings. The surroundings that we live in can transfer and transmit the virus.

A study of the National Institute of Health (NIH) SARS-CoV-2 (which causes Covid-19) survives up to 24 hours on cardboards and 2-3 days on steels or plastic surfaces.

This outrage of Covid-19 has made a substantial increase in sales of cleaning solutions and disinfectant products. This increase happened due to one of the important recommendations of The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC recommended to keep the most commonly used surfaces clean and disinfected.

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Why disinfecting the surface is important?

Surfaces are major contributors of spreading contagious diseases. When we move around from one place to another, we touch different surfaces. It is the same for an infected person; everything he touches is a source of transmission. Proper disinfection of surfaces is one of the steps to control the spread of the disease.

These recommendations are about cleaning or disinfection for the general public, who has Covid-19 patients in their house or the one living in self-isolation. So, the question arises, how to effectively clean coronavirus from surfaces:

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For how long can COVID-19 survive on surfaces?

Various researches suggest that COVID-19 can remain active on surfaces for several hours. The New England Journal of Medicine conducted one such study. There is a high chance that people can get the virus from contaminated surfaces. COVID-19 remains active for the following hours. This duration is different for each type of material;

  • 3 hours in aerosol
  • 4 hours on copper
  • 24 hours on cardboard
  • 2 to 3 days on plastic
  • 2 to 3 days on stainless steel

Which surface disinfectants can you use, and how?

There is a list of surface disinfectants by the center for disease control and prevention (CDC). Some of these disinfectants are readily available at your home while some are present at your nearest chemical stores.

COVID-19 genome Coronavirus genomic Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash
  1. Diluted Bleach Solution

It is one of the easiest surface disinfectants. These are readily available at home. For disinfecting surfaces with the help of bleach solution, follow these simple steps;

  • Wear gloves. Discard these gloves after cleaning and disinfecting.
  • Clean the surfaces with soap water.
  • Ensure proper ventilation when using bleach for disinfection. Ensure that the bleach is not expired.
  • Prepare the bleach solution. Mix five tablespoons of bleach for each gallon of water.
  • Use the solution within 24 hours. After this time, the solution is useless for disinfection.
  • You can immerse non-porous items such as plastic for approximately 30 seconds.
  • Other household items should get exposure of about 10 minutes.
Man using EPA Approved Disinfectant
  1. 70% Alcohol
  • Follow the same procedure as the bleach solution.
  • Do not dilute 70% alcohol in water and use it directly.
  • Leave 70% alcohol solution for about half a minute before wiping it.
  • Seal your container of alcohol after using it as it can evaporate quickly.
  1. Hydrogen Peroxide
  • It is usually available in 3% concentrations.
  • You can use a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution directly.
  • Leave this solution for about one minute before drying or wiping it away.
  1. Environment Protection Agency (EPA) Approved disinfectants

EPA has a list of disinfectants that are very useful for surfaces. These disinfectants are very effective against the COVID-19 as well. Business owners, hospitals, and the public can gain access to these disinfectants easily.

Each country also has its list that contains the brand names of the disinfectant and how to use them. You must follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the bottles. These disinfectants usually have a contact time written on them. The contact time is the duration for which the disinfectant remains wet on the surface.

  1. Steam Cleaning

In addition to surface disinfectants for COVID-19. Steam and heat treatment is the most effective way against coronaviruses. COVID-19 is a new virus, so, there is no scientific publication available to explain the effectiveness of steam and heat treatment against COVID-19.

However, according to a non-peer-reviewed scientific study published in March 2020 reveals that virus can survive from 24-72 hours on plastic and cardboards. Therefore, steam cleaning is the ultimate option to help prevent the virus from spreading. According to a microbiologist, Jason Tetro temperatures over 77 °C is the best to kill bacteria and viruses. Therefore, steam cleaners are the ideal choice to tackle various household surfaces.

What about other surfaces?

Many companies offer disinfection of such material. However, the CDC recommends that you dispose of all contaminated bed linens, clothes, and other fibrous material. It is essential to contact your local health department regarding the proper disposal of such materials.

General Recommendation for Disinfecting and cleaning:

For the home and places used by the infected person.

  • The most important recommendation is to get awareness about the symptoms of Covid-19. So, proper steps can be taken on time.
  • Disinfect all the frequently used surfaces like knobs, phones, remotes, switches, chairs, tables, etc.
  • The suspected/infected person should stay in one room, and they should not roam around.
  • Provide all the cleaning supplies to the patient by the caregiver. Be careful if a child uses the room.
  • Make sure the patient uses a separate bathroom. If a separate bathroom is not available, then the used bathroom should be cleaned every time the patient uses it. Especially, disinfect the touched surfaces by the patient.
Hotels Properly Disinfecting and Cleaning Hotel Cleaning Cart


Always look for registered disinfectants when buying. Also, Look for EPA registration number written on containers. Follow the written instructions before using the disinfectants. Remember that disinfection is only one way of protection against the virus. Do not touch surfaces when you are outdoors. Keep a hand sanitizer so that you can at least disinfect your hands regularly.


Afzal Ahmad