As the world reacts to the coronavirus crisis, homeowners with countertops made of marble, granite, and other types of stone are dealing with a very practical question: Can the coronavirus survive on stone surfaces? And if so, for how long?
Homeowners and business owners with stone countertops also want to know how they can effectively kill the virus without damaging their decorative (and costly) surfaces. Recently, there was a scientific study that addressed these very questions. It was published in March by The Journal of Hospital Infection and it is titled, “Persistence of coronavirus on inanimate surfaces and their inactivation with biocidal agents.” While it is quite technical, here is a summary of what marble, granite, and other stone countertop owners need to know.
Contamination of Stone Surfaces
We know that the coronavirus is spread when infected people cough or sneeze, releasing droplets containing the virus into the air. When these droplets land on surfaces such as doorknobs, buttons, or countertops the coronavirus may continue to live on the surface for a period of time. The virus is spread when somebody touches an infected surface then touches their face or mouth.
Medical experts are still studying coronavirus and don’t have a lot of specific answers about how long it can live on marble or other stone surfaces. But common flu germs can live on surfaces for up to 48 hours. And other similar viruses like SARS and MERS can survive for up to nine days. Temperatures higher than 86 degrees may shorten the lifespan of the virus, but most stone countertops rarely if ever get that warm.
Disinfecting Surfaces Safely
Most common household disinfectants can probably kill the virus. But only if they are properly used. And many of the most common household products can actually stain or etch your marble. Marble is porous and can be damaged by highly acidic substances like vinegar, lemon juice, Windex, Lysol, or bleach. So you want to stay away from those.
Instead, use a marble safe disinfectant dish soap and a non-abrasive wipe. Spray a contaminated surface with a disinfectant like antibacterial dish soap then immediately wipe away the disinfectant, it won’t kill the virus. Instead, you need to let the disinfectant remain on the surface for about 3 to 5 minutes in order to be effective.
It’s also a good idea to seal your natural stone so that it is more resistant to bacteria.