Should You Be Disinfecting Your Mail?

There's still a lot of unknowns regarding the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Checking the mail

It’s become an everyday part of life in modern society to go outside and check the mailbox to see if any mail has come in. However, as you’re going through envelopes from friends, loved ones, and magazine subscriptions, the thought may cross your mind: just how clean are your packages and envelopes, anyway?

How clean are your packages?

Armed with hand sanitizer, wet wipes, and the classic hot soap and water, it still takes a lot of time and effort to clean, sanitize, and disinfect everything in your vicinity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide a lot of tips and information on their website including this guide on when and how to wash your hands. Even though there are still a lot of unknown variables regarding the novel coronavirus, named COVID-19, the CDC can still use insight from previous coronaviruses like SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV as a reference and guide.

According to the CDC’s FAQ section on its website, it doesn’t seem likely that the coronavirus can spread through packages sent through the mail. “In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, 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.” However, it’s still a good idea to wash your hands, especially after touching these 10 things.

If you’re concerned about COVID-19, your Amazon package will most likely be OK by the time it reaches your doorstep. “Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets,” the CDC website continues. “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.”

But could coronavirus transfer from your mail carrier to your package, and then to you? “If they have the virus, and there are droplets transmitted to the package, it is theoretically possible to get the virus since it can live on surfaces for up to nine days,” Darshan Shah, MD, founder and Medical Director at Next Health, tells Refinery29. But, again, while it’s possible, it’s still unlikely. Here are 4 household products that kill coronavirus, according to Consumer Reports.

Cleaning out your mailbox

Your email inbox isn’t the only inbox that needs to be cleaned. Your physical mailbox needs to be cleaned, too. Angie’s List recommends mixing a few drops of dish soap with warm water and cleaning both the inside and the outside of the mailbox to remove dirt. Once wiped down, disinfect the surface with the appropriate disinfectant spray. Next, make sure you know the best ways to clean your house to avoid getting sick.

Originally Published on Reader's Digest

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