The coronavirus could be anywhere. That's why it's important to consistently follow guidelines like wearing a face mask and washing your hands regularly. But some scenarios—and surfaces—are higher risk than others. That's what Chinese researchers recently found when they took 242 swabs of surfaces around COVID patients to see which were most likely to hold coronavirus. Here are the seven germiest surfaces they found, along with expert advice on how to keep your home virus-free. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
Coronavirus was found on 16.7% of toilet bowls swabbed in the study. It's possible that the virus might be aerosolized when toilets are flushed and could even spread through pipes in the same bulding. To keep yourself safe, clean your bathroom regularly with an EPA-approved disinfectant, and make sure everyone in your household knows to drop the lid before flushing.
12.5% of the floors in the study tested positive for coronavirus. That's perhaps unsurprising, considering that virus-carrying droplets we breathe, cough and sneeze eventually drop to the floor. Although experts haven't said that floors are a vector for transmission, it's a good idea to clean yours regularly, and be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after taking off your shoes.
The scientists found that 4% of patients' hands had evidence of coronavirus. That's why authorities like Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious-disease expert, have urged good hand hygiene since the beginning of the epidemic. Wash your hands often, and thoroughly, with soap and water. Use a hand sanitizer that's at least 60% alcohol if soap and water aren't available. Dry completely, but avoid air dryers: They blow germs around (and possibly into your face).
Four percent of these bed linens held coronavirus, the researchers found. To clean sheets and towels, the CDC recommends laundering those according to the manufacturer's instructions in the warmest appropriate water, then drying the items completely. Wear disposable gloves when you handle sheets or towels used by someone who's sick, and don't shake dirty laundry.
As a surface we're touching constantly, cellphones can be crawling with germs. Several studies have found our phones can be exponentially dirtier than a toilet seat. This study found 4% of swabbed mobile phones carried coronavirus. Clean yours regularly with a disinfectant wipe or spray, or use a spray or wipe that's at least 70% alcohol.
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Four percent of keyboards held coronavirus, the scientists found. They're what are commonly called "high-touch surfaces," and the CDC recommends disinfecting those routinely. Along with keyboards, tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, toilets, faucets and sinks make the list.
Researchers found that 4% of the swabbed surfaces touched by patients, and 2.6% of those touched by healthcare staff, showed the presence of coronavirus. All the more reason to wash your hands regularly, avoid touching your face, and disinfect frequently touched surfaces often.
Here's what else you can do to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear a face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, once again don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.