A friend of mine has been ill of flu since many weeks ago.

Today, while meeting him, he was reading some of my papers and while reading them he coughed several times. I already washed-cleaned everything else that was around us. The only thing I haven't cleaned yet is my papers.

I don't know what can I do to disinfect them totally.

I can't spray them because that'd ruin them obviously.

I was reading that the sun can kill some germs, if I put them off directly to sun shine, will they be totally disinfected?

I could get new copies but it will be too much copies, additional to my own notes and remarks on most on them.

Is the some way to clean them without ruin them?

Thank you in advance.

  • 2
    Handle them with gloves, though it's a reasonable bet that any action you take will be largely psychological for yourself rather than truly effective defense against disease. Every day that you walk around the planet, breathing the air and touching surfaces you're coming into contact with millions of bacteria and viruses; the sum total weight of all viruses and bacteria on earth is about 1200 times the weight of all humans. Your immune system does a wonderful job and having spent 10 minutes in a room with him it probably won't matter if you lick your document or not; you've already inhaled..
    – Caius Jard
    Commented Feb 29, 2020 at 18:52
  • 1
    ..huge numbers of pathogens. Try and keep a healthy/realistic perspective when it comes to disease; overfocusing on someone coughing on something you handle is missing a much bigger picture.
    – Caius Jard
    Commented Feb 29, 2020 at 18:54

3 Answers 3


Bake your notes in a pre-heated oven for a few minutes.

According to what virology online, 56°C / 133°F for 15+ minutes — hardly enough to do any damage to your notes that you'd notice.

Here's more

The dried virus on smooth surfaces retained its viability for over 5 days at temperatures of 22–25°C and relative humidity of 40–50%, that is, typical air-conditioned environments. However, virus viability was rapidly lost (>3 log10) at higher temperatures and higher relative humidity (e.g., 38°C, and relative humidity of >95%).

In the present study, we have demonstrated that SARS CoV can survive at least two weeks after drying at temperature and humidity conditions found in an air-conditioned environment. The virus is stable for 3 weeks at room temperature in a liquid environment but it is easily killed by heat at 56°C for 15 minutes [9].

Good luck.

  • 1
    ...but be careful how much you heat the oven. 56°C / 133°F is well below any cooking temperature. Also, it may kill a virus but not bacteria at that temperature. Some bacterial spores will need temperatures around 130ºC / 271°F to kill them. Commented Feb 29, 2020 at 16:05
  • @WeatherVane well that's a problem then because I don't know what kind of bacteria my friend has. It must be a very persistent because he has had this flu since January and he already took medicine but still coughs Commented Feb 29, 2020 at 17:52
  • Stan, can I use microwave instead of oven? Commented Feb 29, 2020 at 17:56
  • @user8473907 you can research it too. That was the upper temperature, I think. The flash point of typical paper is 451°F. I would avoid any oven that has a naked flame ;) Commented Feb 29, 2020 at 17:57
  • 3
    It's unlikely to be flu if he's been ill that long. It takes about a week to recover from the flu. Far more likely that he's had a few illnesses in succession with similar symptoms, or a persistent cough for some other reason. Taking a medicine isn't a good indication that someone is ill with an infection (cough medicines don't have any truly medicinal,in the sense of anti bacterial or antiviral, properties) , nor is a cough; it could simply be that his immune system has dispensed with the infection and a cough isnanside effect of cellular damage in his respiratory system
    – Caius Jard
    Commented Feb 29, 2020 at 18:44

If you need your papers within a few hours, you can iron them one by one, normal paper can stand the highest heat an iron can give. (Just the kind of iron you use on clothes. Check the iron is clean.)

If you do not need your papers for a couple of days, do not worry, viruses do not stay alive long on paper.

And if your friend has been near you, it is more likely that you did get infected directly rather than through the papers. And much more likely that you did not get infected.

  • Thanks Willeke. Btw I did not get infected. --the thing is like this, if I got infected, I'd be sick then I would have to stop drinking coffee and that would make me very unhappy, so I can't afford to be infected ;) hehe Commented Mar 8, 2020 at 22:06
  • @user8473907 Why would you have to stop drinking coffee? I suspect if you are accustomed to it, slightly reducing your dose (or keeping the same dose) is easier for your body to handle than going through withdrawal. I further suspect that the boilerplate advice about "drink liquids but not coffee" is mostly applicable to a person that is not caffeine-habituated.
    – piojo
    Commented Mar 9, 2020 at 6:24
  • 1
    @piojo Because one should not mix caffeine with other kind of drugs. In the best of the cases, nothing will happen. In the worst case, the other drug dose would be enhanced and could end up in overdose. In a bad case, would be the inhibition of the drug dose, due the caffeine. Commented Mar 9, 2020 at 20:07
  • @user8473907 Fair enough. That is great advice for someone that can't be bothered to do a search in a database of drug interactions. (Queries can be done online, but I can't remember the name of any such web sites.) But next time you're sick, keep that option in mind.
    – piojo
    Commented Mar 10, 2020 at 3:56

Expose these papers to black UV light for a few hours


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