Watch CBS News

Can I Get Coronavirus From Handling My Groceries?

DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado is on a Stay At Home Order until April 26. Residents have been asked to practice social distancing. But there are some things people have to do, like go to the grocery store. One CBS4 viewer asked, "What about my groceries?" That is a Good Question.

"How long does this virus last? I guess the answer is, it depends, right?" CBS4's Alan Gionet asked Alan Schenkel, Ph.D., Associate Professor at Colorado State University's Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology.

"Correct. So it depends on the surface and it depends on the environmental condition of that surface," Schenkel replied.

Schenkel emphasized that scientists are still learning about the coronavirus, so it hasn't been tested on many different surfaces.

"So they've been sitting out in the environment for a while, so if someone accidentally coughed on them or touched their face and then touched the vegetables, it would probably begin degrading almost immediately, but we don't know how long it's going to last on those types of things," Schenkel said.

The National Institutes of Health says the virus can last 2-3 days on plastic, and 24-hours on cardboard.

"I would say if you're not certain how clean things are, wash it off in hot water and soap. Things like soup cans are really amenable to that. Plastic packaging is really easy to wipe down with Lysol or Clorox wipes if you've got them," Schenkel advised.

Grocery Store
(credit CBS)

For people at high risk, you may want to soak those fruits and vegetables.

"A bleach soak for 5 minutes in about 2% bleach is what I've seen and then you rinse in water, and that wipes out not only the virus but bacteria, as well," Schenkel said.

Wiping down the pin pad at the cash register is another good piece of safety advice. And you may want to think twice about using cash, a study shows that the virus lives longer on paper money.

If you have a Good Question for CBS4's Alan Gionet, you can e-mail it to He will try to report on as many as he can.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.