How long can the coronavirus Covid-19 live on cardboard, plastic and other surfaces?

European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control

Michaela O'Dea


Michaela O'Dea

Covid-19 is not comparable to many other viruses, therefore this represents new territory for medical experts to navigate. 

The respiratory virus presents through a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or extreme fatigue. These symptoms can range from moderate to severe.

Covid-19 can be contracted in a myriad of ways and survives for notable periods of time on surfaces.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) stated that in comparison SARS-coV-2, Covid-19 did not have air transmission, however, the virus could be displaced by the air and deposited on a surface in which it can live.

Other studies conducted found that Covid-19 can survive:

  • In aerosols for up to three hours.
  • On cardboard for up to 24 hours.
  • On plastic and stainless-steel surfaces for up to three days/ 72 hours. 
  • On copper for four hours. 

Meaning, that the virus can remain contagious on viable surfaces for days. Thus, extreme sanitisation and precaution is advised. 

In a test conducted by the ECDC of a Covid-19-dedicated Intensive Care Unit (ICU), Covid-19 was found on a proportion of surfaces and areas. These included "self-service printers used by patients to self-print the results of their exams, desktop keyboards and doorknobs."

The virus was detected on 15.4% of glove samples tested, but rarely on eye protection devices as only 1.7% of eye equipment was found to have the virus on its surface.

Therefore, in domestic settings people are urged to regularly use disinfectants, sanitising gels, bleach or any product which is alcohol-based on surfaces. Additionally, when in public use gloves and hand sanitising products to prevent transmission.