Are Packages Safe from COVID-19? Cleaning and Sanitation Tips

As more people get vaccinated against COVID-19, and the world learns to move forward from the global pandemic, stay-at-home protocols have decreased. However, there have been many changes to the world’s dynamic, including the way people buy and receive their purchases. 

More people are now accustomed to having their purchases delivered to their doorstep. However, with the numerous packages that are sorted, held, and delivered daily, the question that comes to mind for most is if these deliveries pose a health risk: can you get COVID-19 from packages?

It’s difficult to tell how much longer the pandemic will last, and although there are safety and health protocols to help you from the virus, it doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon. To adapt to the current situation, it is essential to learn about the safety of packaging during the pandemic and some cleaning and sanitizing tips to lower the chances of contracting the virus.

Are Packages Safe from Coronavirus?

When the lockdowns started, businesses and consumers increasingly relied on the internet for goods purchasing and online servicing. In fact, in 2020, ecommerce’s share of global retail trade went from 14% to 17%. However, as more people purchase goods online, there comes the concern about the safety of these packages.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states the primary way the COVID-19 virus spreads is through exposure to respiratory droplets that carry the virus. While it is possible to get infected through contact with a contaminated surface, such as your retail packaging, the risk is generally considered low.

While chances are considered low, you should never risk getting infected. The number of viruses and their duration on surfaces varies according to factors such as the packaging.

Ecommerce packaging has gathered several concerns regarding its safety, but the Houston Methodist says that there is a timeframe by which the virus survives on surfaces. 

For instance, the virus seems to stay on cardboard for about 24 hours, while around three days on plastic. They also found that the amount of virus detectable on a surface reduces with time and becomes less infectious. Here are the various types of surfaces and the period the coronavirus stays on them.

  • Metal (doorknobs, silverware, jewelry) – 5 to 9 days
  • Plastics (detergent bottles, public transportation seats, elevator buttons) – 2 to 3 days
  • Wood (furniture) – 4 days
  • Cardboard (product packaging) – 24 hours
  • Stainless steel (pots, pans, sinks) – 2 to 3 days
  • Glass (drinking glasses, mirror, windows) – Up to 5 days
  • Paper (mail, newspaper, some types of packaging) – Some stay for only a few minutes on paper, while others up to 5 days.

Cleaning and Sanitation Tips to Keep Your Packages Safe

  1. Have a decontamination zone or cleaning area

    Disinfect your packages when they arrive. It is recommended that you disinfect them outside your house. You can use disinfectant wipes, a spray, or even a napkin doused with 70% alcohol.

    If the goods are non-perishable, you can leave them in your decontamination zone for about three days or until the virus is no longer viable. After disinfecting, don’t forget to sanitize your hands before entering your house to prevent any virus from transferring to the doorknob, which everyone touches. Once inside, wash your hands thoroughly using soap and water.
  1. Transfer food and perishables into clean containers

    Don’t leave your perishable goods out and exposed. Give fruits and vegetables a thorough cleaning before placing them inside your refrigerator. For meats and fish, it’s best to assume that all food handling at the meat counter is contaminated and will only be decontaminated once it’s cooked. Thus, be cautious before you transfer the goods into clean containers.
  1. Wipe waterproof containers with disinfectant

    Waterproof or plastic food packaging can be sprayed with a disinfectant. You can make a disinfectant by adding four tablespoons of bleach to a quart of water. After applying the solution to the containers, wait for at least one minute to allow it to work.

    Other options include washing the container with actual soap and water or wiping it down using a generous amount of 70% alcohol.
  1. Organize your packages/groceries

    Whenever you come home with your packages, organize and sort out your groceries according to the type of goods to make things easier and more organized. Is it perishable? Pantry items? Should you place them in glass containers?

    Instead of grabbing random items from your shopping bag, try organizing and placing similar items together so you can clean and arrange them in your pantry or kitchen. Doing it this way can save you time while keeping you safe.
  1. Let people know which packages have been disinfected

    If you live with others and leave your packages out for the recommended amount of time before bringing them in, make sure that everyone in your household knows so that they don’t mistake it for a package that has been left outside.
  1. Wash your hands when dealing with the packages
    When possible, wash your hands before, in between, and after handling your packages. Use soap and water thoroughly for at least 20 seconds to prevent cross-contamination.

Keep Your Packages and Home Safe

Throughout the global pandemic, packages have become a more significant part of people’s lives. Packages are not always the cleanest, and keeping this in mind will help you address any possibility for contamination. Although not everything may be contaminated, handle your packages with care. It’s always better to err on the side of caution.

Meyers Printing provides a vast range of product packaging for all your retail needs. Talk to our experts to learn more.