How long can the most common viruses live on hard surfaces?
- Influenza: 24 hours
- Rotavirus: 8 hours
- Norovirus: 2 weeks
- Rhinovirus: 24 hours
- Coronaviruses: Up to 3 hours
We get it.
You’re tired of hearing about “the virus.” You’re frustrated with restrictions, and though you’re happy to put your community first, it stinks to miss activities that you enjoy.
When it comes right down to it, the only thing you can control is you. Wear your mask, wash your hands, stay home, when you can’t, practice social distancing, and keep cleaning and disinfecting.
You’re not alone – we ARE all in this together.
Because the unknown is so frightening, we thought it may be interesting to take a closer look at how long the most common viruses are actually a threat to people.
Some of these facts may reassure you, while others may be a surprise. Either way, understanding helps!
Here’s what you need to know about how long viruses can live on different surfaces.
Viruses have variables
How long a virus lives isn’t clear cut.
There are a couple different factors that come into play when making a determination.
Take a look at the two main elements that have an effect.
Viruses are different
Unfortunately, it’s not like “a virus is a virus is a virus.”
They’d be much easier to treat that way!
Instead, they vary widely in how they behave and even their shape (Yes, apparently that matters! Who knew?!)
So, keep in mind that the numbers you’re going to see in a moment are general, just to give you a rough estimate of how long that particular virus can live.
The environment plays a role
The other major factor to consider is the role of the environment.
For example, we all know that flu viruses tend to die in the heat of summer, but they can fight on for hours in the cold.
Here’s a quick rundown of the environmental elements that have an effect on virus life:
- Type of surface.
- The amount of humidity in the air.
- Whether or not the surface the virus lands on has been treated with an antimicrobial mixture.
These unwelcome visitors can survive longer on surfaces that are smooth and hard. For example, your kitchen sink, your countertops, etc.
They can’t live AS long on soft surfaces like carpet, though they can still cause quite a ruckus while they’re there.
Let’s jump into some specific viruses (not literally) and see how long they can hang on.
Virus lifespan on varying surfaces
You’re probably most familiar with this one that we call the “flu.” It’s very common and we see about three million cases per year in the United States. It’s considered a seasonal flu.
It normally attacks the lungs, nose, and throat.
Here’s how long it can live on hard or soft surfaces, as well as skin (gross) and the air:
- On hard surfaces: 24 hours
- On soft surfaces: Anywhere from 15 minutes to a few hours
- On skin: 5 to 15 minutes
- In the air: Well…anywhere from 1 to 24 (or more) hours. (Remember those variables we talked about? The flu lives much longer in the cold!)
This is the other type of virus that you and your children probably experienced at some point in life – usually between the ages of birth and 5 years old. We usually say someone has a “stomach bug.”
It’s the one that causes the intestines to revolt like a wild stallion bucking a saddle. (Yeah, the diarrhea is actually that intense sometimes. ) Plus, it can strike year-round.
Here are the stats about Rotavirus lifespan:
- On hard surfaces: 8 hours
- On soft surfaces: MORE THAN TWO WEEKS!
- On skin: 4 hours
- In the air: Thankfully, this one doesn’t travel through the air!
This is also a virus referred to as a “bug,” but this one causes vomiting and stomach pain, in addition to diarrhea, and is seasonal, infecting unsuspecting people in the winter.
(But you can also get headaches and/or fever with Norovirus, so that’s cool. )
Norovirus is a little bit different in that it can live up to two weeks on hard surfaces and for months in still water!
Rhinovirus is what we all refer to as the “common cold.” You can get it any time of the year, but it’s most common in the fall and winter.
Runny nose, sore throat, sneezing, coughing, headaches and muscle aches. You know the drill.
A common cold is usually mild but can sometimes turn into bronchitis or pneumonia.
Here’s the lifespan lowdown:
- On hard surfaces: 24 hours
- On soft surfaces: 3 hours
- On skin: 3 hours
- In the air: It can travel through the air via coughs and sneezes, but it cannot survive in the air on its own.
This virus has become all too familiar, but what you may misunderstand is that the name, “Coronavirus” encompasses, not only the notorious COVID-19, but also common colds and SARS.
The symptoms are basically the same as Rhinovirus, though COVID-19 has the delightful (not) little “perk” of causing people to lose their senses of smell and/or taste. Plus, it can also cause diarrhea.
Here’s how long the virus can live:
- On hard surfaces: Up to 3 days
- On soft surfaces: 24 hours
- On skin: 3-9 hours (depending on the strain)
- In the air: 3 hours
You need professional cleaning services now more than ever
After investigating viruses a little more thoroughly, it’s easy to see why you should be scheduling regular cleanings with a reputable company (Hint: Hammond Knoll) for your hard surfaces (tile, laminate, hardwood floors) and the soft ones (area rugs, Oriental rugs, carpets, upholstery).
We’re still open and we’re taking all the necessary precautions so that we can SAFELY keep your home, rugs, etc. free of viruses and keep you healthy.
Get in touch today for a free quote!