The new coronavirus emergency has made it essential to raise the level of hygiene measures that we must put into practice in everyday life. Among these precautions, cleaning your hands is very important but also the surfaces of houses and offices, door knobs, light switches or phones and tablets. Let's try to understand why it is useful, what can be done and what science says about it.
Coronavirus, how resistant is it on surfaces? The virus is transmitted through droplets, which can contaminate mucous membranes such as eyes, nose and mouth but also hands and surfaces. What scientists are trying to understand is how much the virus resists outside the body. Scientific research has observed that human coronavirus survives on surfaces, such as metal, glass or plastic, for up to 9 days (Kampf et al, J Hosp Infect, 6 Feb 2020). What is disputed by other scientists is that the study was performed not in a real environment but in the laboratory, under ideal conditions. So, we can say that 9 days is the maximum survival of the virus in optimal conditions that aren’t normally found. We can reasonably expect the virus to actually survive only a few hours out of the body, as indicated in all current guidelines and official information. In any case, even if the virus survives a few hours, it is important to disinfect the surfaces with which the virus may have come into contact.
Coronavirus, does not survive alcohol
Always the same study (Kampf et al, J Hosp Infect, 6 Feb 2020) states that the virus is inactivated within a minute by disinfecting the surfaces with products containing from 62 to 71% of ethyl alcohol and 0.5% of hydrogen peroxide or 0,1% of sodium hypochlorite, also called bleach. Other agents such as benzalkonium chloride or chlorhexidine digluconate, both disinfectants, are less active.
Coronavirus, how to disinfect surfaces and smartphones
Always use gloves to clean and disinfect surfaces, the gloves have then to be thrown away. If the surfaces are dirty, these must be cleaned with soap and water. Then pass on the surfaces products that contain at least 70% alcohol. Alternatively, you can use products that contain a small amount of bleach, but be careful, the latter product is absolutely not suitable for hands! Different speech for smartphones or other electronic devices. In fact, in this case alcohol and bleach would be too aggressive. In this case it is better to use a microfibre cloth, such as that of the glasses, soaked in soap and water. When you are cleaning an electronic device, it must always be turned off, disconnected from the power cable and cleaned with small movements. Then, the phone should always be dried using again a microfiber cloth.