Viruses are not living organisms. They are a protein molecule consisting of a strand of DNA covered by a protective layer of lipid (fat). When placed in close proximity of ocular (eye), nasal (nose), or buccal (mouth) mucosa (the outermost layer of the eye, nose, and mouth), viruses like COVID are able to change their genetic code. These mutations allow them convert the host cells into little factories that produce aggressor and multiplier cells. Viruses cannot penetrate healthy skin, they must aim for the less resistent mucosal parts of our outer defenses.
Since viruses are not living organisms but protein molecules, they cannot be killed. Rather, one must wait for them to decay on their own. The disintegration time depends on temperature, humidity, and type of material where they lie. A virus’ life is one of racing to reproduce before they decay. Under the right circumstances, they can double their numbers every three hours.
SOAP & HOT WATER. Viruses are very fragile. Their only protection it is a thin outer layer of fat. Any soap or detergent is capable of dissolving that fat layer exposing the viral DNA to natural degradation by dispersal. The key to washing your hands is to make as many fluffy soap suds as possible, bathing the invaders for at least 20 seconds. In addition to soap, heat will degrade the protective fatty layer of the virus. The use of hot water (above 77 degrees) alone for washing hands, clothes, and surfaces will work. But adding soap to the hot water makes more foam and degrades the virus more effectively.
ALCOHOL, BLEACH, AND HYDROGEN PEROXIDE. Straight alcohol (or any mixture with alcohol over 65%) will dissolve the external lipid layer of the virus. Any mixture with 1 part bleach and 5 parts water directly dissolves the protein, breaking it down from the inside. Hydrogen peroxide (H3O or oxygenated water) provides a longer lasting effect but you have to use it pure and that can hurt your skin. Vinegar is not an effective treatment because it cannot dissolve the fat.
BACTERICIDES & ANTIBIOTICS. Viruses are not living organisms like bacteria; antibiotics or bactericides cannot kill what is not alive.
UV LIGHT. Good, old-fashioned sunlight on any object breaks it down and this holds true for viruses. This is also true for skin collagen, outdoor furniture, and plastics. Viruses need moisture to stay stable, so warm, dark, moist recesses favor viral reproduction. Therefore, dehumidified, dry, warm, and bright environments will degrade them faster. The virus molecules remain very stable in external cold air or artificially cold air, as in air conditioners in houses and cars.
DURATION. In the absence of anti-viral treatments, viruses are very inert. While attached to a porous surface, viruses disintegrate slowly. Viral particles on fabric will take 3 hours to degrade, 4 hours on copper or wood, 24 hours on cardboard, 42 hours on metal, and 72 hours on plastic. The ability of COVID to survive in the wild has not yet been established as being different from these norms. But generally speaking, the more confined the space, the more concentrated the virus can be. The more open or naturally ventilated, the less concentrated. Airbourne viral particles can lodge in your nose as you breathe so be careful when disturbing potentially infected surfaces. Viral molecules not associated with water droplets can float in the air for up to 3 hours.
PRECAUTIONS. Wash your hands before and after touching mucosa, food, locks, knobs, switches, remote controls, cell phones, watches, computers, desks, TVs, etc., and, of course, after using the bathroom. All this cleanliness, however, may lead to dry skin. Moisturize dry hands because any viral molecules encountered can hide in the micro cracks of your epidermis. The thicker the moisturizer, the better. Also keep your fingernails cut short so that the virus cannot hide there.
STAY SAFE. BE SMART. STAY INFORMED.