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

100%

80%

60%

40%

20%

24 hours
% Left1.78

0h

5h

10h

15h

20h

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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