What You Don't Know About Killing Coronavirus On Surfaces Can Hurt You

Decontaminating your property from coronavirus requires a 2-step process: cleaning first, and then disinfecting afterward. The cleaning process involves wiping a surface down with soap and water, while the disinfection process involves applying a disinfectant chemical to kill germs. Unfortunately, a professional biohazard cleaner says that many people are forgetting to implement the first step and are instead spraying the disinfectant right away.


The novel coronavirus is thought to spread primarily through respiratory droplets released when you sneeze or cough, but it can also linger longer on surfaces. To reduce the chances of infection, the CDC recommends cleaning frequently touched surfaces - such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, faucets, and electronics.

“An equally important step to killing COVDI-19 on surfaces is the cleaning step," said David Lewgood, the President and Owner of the commercial cleaning and disinfection service CoronaVirus Cleanup.


His team specializes in biohazard cleaning and virus disinfection for sites contaminated with infectious diseases. For the past 3 months, the CoronaVirus Cleanup teams have dedicated themselves to properly deep cleaning and disinfecting areas contaminated by COVID-19. That includes offices, gyms, factories, government municipalities, and metro Atlanta businesses.


“If you don’t clean properly, you don’t allow the disinfectant to do its job,” said Lewgood. "Dirty surfaces are coated in biofilm germ clusters resistant to disinfectants, and must first be removed before any chemical can be applied to effectively kill any lingering viruses or bacteria."


Lewgood emphasized that it’s important to change the cleaning rags or paper towels frequently, so as not to simply spread the germs around. Every disinfectant is marked with a “dwell time” - or how long a chemical should remain on a surface to start killing germs. Some disinfectants may take up to 10 minutes, while others may only take 30 seconds.


Virus lifespan often depends on the type of surface, temperature, and humidity


Researchers have found that coronavirus tends to live longer on certain surfaces. For example, it can survive on print and tissue paper for 3 hours, or outside of a surgical mask for 7 days. Environmental factors have also been found to affect the virus's lifespan. A group of Hong Kong researchers found that coronavirus lasted up to two weeks in a test tube under 39 degrees Fahrenheit, but lasted only one day under 99 degrees Fahrenheit. Another group of Beijing researchers discovered that high temperature and high humidity also helps reduce virus transmission.


Since there is still much to learn about coronavirus, Lewgood believes that the 2-step deep cleaning and disinfection process is a much safer alternative to waiting for the virus to die on its own.  


“Considering there is no guarantee that closing up a building or closing off an office or a room for several days will kill coronavirus and make it inhabitable,” says Lewgood. “I recommend that everyone be extra vigilant in their cleaning and disinfection processes. Better yet, hire a trained and certified service company like CoronaVirus Cleanup to do it for you.  


If you do decide to hire a professional biohazard company, be sure to ask what's involved in their process. Do they clean according to the CDC's recommendations before applying the disinfectant? Do they use a CDC and EPA approved disinfectant? Do they test the areas for decontamination? If their answer is yes to all three, then you should feel safe moving forward.”