Since the coronavirus pandemic began, fear of contracting the virus from surfaces and objects has fueled a mad dash for disinfectant wipes and frantic scrubbing of everyday items like groceries and takeout containers.
Like the virus itself, our knowledge of how COVID-19 spreads is still new. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says contaminated surfaces are not the main way the virus is transmitted, the agency hasn’t ruled surfaces out as a possible mode of infection. But disinfecting those groceries may not be the best way to protect yourself from the virus.
“If you want a reliable way to prevent yourself from getting the coronavirus, worry less about the surfaces you touch, and worry more about how frequently you wash your hands,” says Dr. Dara Kass, a Yahoo News Medical Contributor and associate professor of emergency medicine at Columbia University Medical Center. “Washing your hands, even if you touch a contaminated surface, is the best way to protect yourself from getting the coronavirus. It’s really that simple. And it’s what we’ve been saying all along.
“I think you do what you feel most comfortable with,” Kass adds of disinfecting surfaces. “It is really unlikely that you’re going to get coronavirus from a surface in the mail, or your packages, or your groceries. But there’s really no harm in wiping things down.”