Coronavirus and Cardboard Boxes | Visualized Science

By Charles Li, MD

March 31, 2020

  • How long does COVID-19 survive on cardboard?

  • A few particles may survive up to a day, but about half will be gone within four hours.

  • If you are at higher risk, be sure to wash your hands after handling a package.

Coronavirus and boxes

Coronavirus survival on cardboard

COVID-19 particles can survive on cardboard, though not for as long as you think.

After 8 hours, approximately 15% of viral particles will remain on cardboard.

Most viral particles will have decayed at that point.

Coronavirus survival time on boxes

How they measured it

Scientists measured this by placing a small amount of COVID-19 viruses on cardboard. They then swabbed the surface and estimated the number of viral particles at each pre-defined time point.

Full COVID-19 Curve on Cardboard

CardboardCOVID-19 decay

% Virus Alive






24 hours
% Left1.78






Hours since inoculation

Chart Icon

sharable chart image

free to copy and distribute

The full dataset for coronavirus on cardboard suggests that coronavirus exponentially decays on cardboard. About a third of coronavirus will be gone within 4 hours, and over 80% will be gone after 8 hours.

Coronavirus on Cardboard vs Other Surfaces

COVID-19 Survivability on surfaces

COVID-19 viruses live nearly twice as long on plastic surfaces, compared to cardboard.

Half of COVID-19 particles on a cardboard box decay every 3.5 hours, which is approximately half as long as the 7 hour half life for plastic.

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