How to Safely Handle Packages & Mail During the COVID-19 Crisis

With social distancing regulations in effect resulting in shops and restaurants temporarily closing across the country, Americans are relying more and more on deliveries to get the things they need.

From groceries to household goods to takeout, we’re getting more deliveries to our homes than ever. But, in the era of COVID-19, ensuring that those packages aren’t bringing viruses into our homes is at the forefront of everyone’s mind.

In fact, Google searches for “disinfecting packages” soared at the end of March and into the beginning of April.

Google trends search results showing the fluctuations in search results

Google Trends search results

Do We Need to Disinfect Our Packages?

According to the CDC, the spread of novel coronavirus is thought to be mainly through respiratory droplets exchanged among individuals who are less than 6 feet apart.

The CDC also says “it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes” but “this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.”

Additionally, the USPS maintains that “the CDC, the World Health Organization, and the Surgeon General have indicated that there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 is being spread through the mail.”

The CDC cites frequent, thorough hand washing and routinely disinfecting commonly touched surfaces as the best ways to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus, and states that the likelihood of contracting COVID-19 from the mail and other packages is low.

However, if you are at risk for contracting COVID-19 or live with someone who does — or if you’d just like to feel better about the items coming into your home — there are a few ways to disinfect and properly handle packages that you can employ as an extra safety measure.

How to Safely Receive & Handle Packages

Research on how long SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can survive on different materials is quite varied, but the general consensus is it can last up to five days on metals, four days on wood, two to three days on plastic and stainless steel, and 24 hours on cardboard.

So, what steps can you take to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus?

Choose No-Contact Delivery When Possible

Since contact with infected individuals is the primary way of spreading the novel coronavirus, avoiding contact with others, especially strangers, is the most important way to prevent yourself from being exposed.

Choose no-contact delivery or curbside pickup whenever possible and allow delivery people to get at least six feet away from your door before opening it.

Avoid Bringing Packages into Your Home for 3 to 5 Days

If you have a garage or porch, experts recommend leaving packages there for up to 3 to 5 days after receipt.

This will ensure that any viruses that may have been left on a package by a mail carrier or delivery person would no longer be there once the package is brought into your home.

Disinfect Outer Packaging

If you can’t leave your packages in the garage or on the porch, dispose of outer packaging before bringing the package inside. Disinfecting the outer package with an EPA-approved disinfectant will work as well.

Also make sure to wash your hands thoroughly after touching the package and disinfect any surfaces you touched after touching the packaging material.

Wash Your Hands Thoroughly After Touching Packaging

According to all official literature, thorough hand washing and frequently sanitizing surfaces in your home are the best ways to prevent transmitting COVID-19.

Whenever you touch a package, or any surface that you aren’t sure is sanitized, wash your hands thoroughly and avoid touching your face.

Beyond Staying Home, Keep Surfaces Clean & Wash Often

While social distancing and minimizing trips to places like the grocery store are the best ways to prevent exposure to the coronavirus, taking a few extra steps at home may help ease worries about those essential items we all need.