Don’t worry—it’s still safe to order stuff online during the coronavirus outbreak
Here's how to keep yourself and your packages germ-free.
Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.
Thanks to recent research, you know that coronavirus can stay on surfaces for up to three days. And while you may have disinfected every countertop, doorknob, and toilet seat in your home as a result, there's another surface you may not have considered: your packages.
Chances are high that you're getting more packages delivered now more than ever (Amazon certainly comes in handy during a self-quarantine). But in light of all the latest reports, should you be worried about said packages bringing coronavirus into your home? Probably not, according to experts. Here's what you need to know about ordering online during the coronavirus outbreak and how to keep yourself—and your packages—safe.
How long can coronavirus last on packages and mail?
Fortunately, while scientists say that coronavirus can remain on plastic and steel surfaces for up to three days, its lasting power on cardboard (i.e. what your Amazon delivery arrives in) is much shorter: just 24 hours.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) adds that because the virus is spread primarily through respiratory droplets, you aren't likely to get coronavirus from your mail. "There is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures," the CDC notes on its website, adding, "Currently there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods."
How to safely handle packages and online ordering during the coronavirus outbreak
While the CDC and World Health Organization (WHO) both say that it's unlikely that coronavirus can be spread through mail and deliveries, you should always use common sense and practice good hygiene habits after handling your packages. "If you are worried, I'd suggest simply washing your hands after opening any packages," our senior lab testing technician—and resident germ guru—Jonathan Chan explains. He suggests following the CDC's guidelines for hand-washing. Use soap and water and scrub for at least 20 seconds or, if you can't wash your hands, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
Other precautions you can take include wiping down your packages with disinfectant wipes before opening them and keeping the recommended six-feet distance between you and your mail carrier (i.e. have them leave the packages at your door to avoid coming into contact with someone who could be sick).
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.