There are many different viruses and germs, and each lives for a different amount of time when present outside the body. Some viruses are hardy enough that they will essentially live on a surface indefinitely until it is cleaned. This is one of the many reasons it is so important to keep shared surfaces clean in your office or business. Let’s look at the lifespan of some well-known viruses when outside the body.
The Common Cold
The “common cold” is a brief infection of the nose and throat caused by a variety of viruses. While it is very treatable, it is also one of the easiest infections to avoid catching with a little diligence to your office hygiene.
The viruses that cause a common cold can generally live outside the body for around 24-48 hours on hard surfaces. On non-porous surfaces such as stainless steel, some door knobs, computer keyboards, etc. its lifespan can be as little as 9 hours – still enough time for every employee in a business space to be exposed if one person comes in sick in the morning.
How can you prevent everyone in your office coming down with a cold? Ensure that commonly touched surfaces such as countertops and doorknobs are wiped down a few times a day. Pay special attention to areas where people may spend a long stretch of time, such as an employee breakroom or a lobby where customers may congregate.
In the evenings or at the end of the work day ensure that the office is thoroughly cleaned, either by staff or by a professional cleaning company.
Strep, short for Streptococcus, is a type of bacteria. There are several types of strep, but the most common strains cause infections that lead to strep throat, scarlet fever, and even pneumonia. These infections can be treated with antibiotics, but are more serious than the common cold for many people and no one wants to catch it.
Strep can survive much longer outside the body than the common cold. This bacteria can survive for up to 6 months, waiting to infect someone. In order to keep the office safe if someone who had strep came into work, it’s important to clean thoroughly to kill the bacteria. All shared areas should be cleaned, and staff should clean their individual work stations as well. Shared items, such as headsets, scissors, or staplers, should also be cleaned.
Since it swept the world in 2020, there has been intense research on coronavirus, resulting in a lot of available information about how long this virus can survive outside the body on different surfaces. Below you’ll see some of the most common business surfaces and how long the coronavirus can last on each:
- Non-porous metal – 5 days
- Wood – 4 days
- Plastic, stainless steel, glass, paper – 3 days
- Cardboard – 24 hours
- Copper, ceramic, aluminum – 8 hours
More research is coming out daily regarding the coronavirus, so it is best to assume it could be on anything. At this time there is no vaccine nor treatment for the virus, so preventing it from spreading in your office or business is of paramount importance.
You can help prevent the spread of the coronavirus by ensuring that your staff adheres to Texas mandates regarding face masks and social distancing. It’s also a great idea to try going paperless so that staff don’t have to share paper, nor do you have to suffer the expense of making enough copies of everything for everyone in your office.
In addition, encourage staff to wash their hands often, and clean shared spaces after they’ve used them. Make sure that your office has enough resources to be used without excessive sharing, such as staplers, pens, and phones. Observing this little bit of diligence can help keep your office hygienic and your staff safe.