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How Long Can Viruses and Bacteria Survive on Surfaces?


Insufficient cleaning protocols and lower vaccination rates are contributing to a comeback of dangerous diseases, like polio and mumps. Even more common infections are thriving thanks to poor habits (like not washing hands frequently), workplace culture (having to come into work when sick) and cleaning protocols that need improvement. In light of recent worries about coronavirus (COVID-19), it’s more important than ever to understand how viruses and bacteria survive on surfaces. 

Understanding common infections and how long they live on soft and hard surfaces is a good step toward creating a better cleaning protocol to combat them. 

The cold virus, for example, can survive for days on hard surfaces and is infectious for a minimum of 24 hours. The flu virus can also live on hard surfaces for 24 hours and may live in the air for hours. Norovirus is even more resilient, surviving on hard surfaces for weeks. MRSA can last a similar amount of time, thriving on hard surfaces even without the presence of moisture. 

You can’t see these pathogens with the naked eye, so you can’t identify them without wildly expensive testing. That means you should always err on the side of caution when cleaning and disinfecting, particularly during flu season. 

At this time of year, increase the frequency of disinfecting high-touch surfaces like door push bars and handles, nursing stations, drinking fountains and restrooms. 

Scientists still don’t know how long coronavirus can last on surfaces, but the CDC does tell us that regularly disinfecting high-touch surfaces can help reduce the virus’s spread. 

Find a balance between “chemical bombing” the entire facility and not doing enough to combat infections. The happiest medium is found when you identify the most serious pathogens that may be present in your facility and adjust your cleaning protocol to address them. Taking the time to educate yourself on your facility’s specific needs and train your staff on procedures that address them is the best way to protect your facility from pathogens every day. To learn more about combatting germs in your space and the best janitorial supplies in Buffalo for the job, contact the team at HJS Supply today.

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