Whats the safest way to decontaminate packages/electronics from China? Checking with my shipper they don't bother yet. We just got a new SATA controller from China. Not having any alcohol we used vodka to wipe down the controller and disinfect the cords (touch)areas. MAS-airlines is using a solution of hydrogen peroxide & water to spray everything including your luggage. It turns everything a dingy yellowish color. Of course we wore protective clothing, gloves, mask & goggles when we went on our vodka binge, it dries clear and leaves no ugly residue.

  • How was it shipped? Air or surface?
    – Hobbes
    Mar 10, 2020 at 8:43

2 Answers 2


The UK's National Health Service webpage Coronavirus (COVID-19) says:

How coronavirus is spread

Because it's a new illness, we do not know exactly how coronavirus spreads from person to person.

Similar viruses are spread in cough droplets.

It's very unlikely it can be spread through things like packages or food.

Their advice seems contradictory: if they don't know exactly how the virus is spread, how can they say it is unlikely to be spread by packages?

If you are using standard supermarket vodka to disinfect, be aware that it is (in UK) only about 35% or 40% (ethyl) alcohol.

This page suggests that you need 70% ethyl alcohol to disinfect, so standard vodka may not be good enough.

And this page suggests that 70% alcohol is more effective than 99%, because water is needed as part of the disinfecting process.

  • 2
    RE "Their advice seems contradictory: if they don't know exactly how the virus is spread, how can they say it is unlikely to be spread by packages?" because all viruses are similar. If most viruses can not be spread by some method it likely that this virus can not be spread that way. Also if packages from china spread the infection, it would have shown up in the US by now, with clear indications. Mar 10, 2020 at 17:29
  • I would not trust this advice. WHO said it can live up to 24-hrs on cardboard or paper. We know now it's just not an air-born virus. China went as far as spraying peoples homes, the sewer, and everything people touch...now what about those public libraries? Mar 31, 2020 at 9:53

The safest way is to put the package in quarantine; in a warm and dry location for 14 days.

But how long can the new coronavirus linger on surfaces, anyway? The short answer is, we don't know. But if this new coronavirus resembles other human coronaviruses, such as its "cousins" that cause SARS and MERS, it can stay on surfaces — such as metal, glass or plastic — for as long as nine days, according to a new study. (In comparison, flu viruses can last on surfaces for only about 48 hours.) source


The first section of the new paper focuses on how long coronaviruses can survive on inanimate surfaces, such as tables and door handles. The authors show that, depending on the material and the conditions, human coronaviruses can remain infectious from 2 hours to 9 days.

At temperatures of around 4°C or 39.2oF, certain versions of the coronavirus could remain viable for up to 28 days. At temperatures of 30–40°C (86–104°F), coronaviruses tended to persist for a shorter time.

“Human coronaviruses can remain infectious on inanimate surfaces at room temperature for up to 9 days. At a temperature of 30°C [86°F] or more, the duration of persistence is shorter. Veterinary coronaviruses have been shown to persist even longer for 28 d[ays].” Source

Edit March 15 2020: Many sources are now saying COVID 19 can only live about 3 days on surfaces.

  • 1
    Ha! Same thought. Seems your sources are a bit more conservative, though. As your post is clearly better, I’ll happily remove mine and upvote yours instead.
    – Stephie
    Mar 10, 2020 at 17:43
  • Air born Virus can be killed with ultra-violet lamps. Why isn't anyone deploying these? We used them at the chicken farm to kill bird-flu in the 80s. It just works. Mar 31, 2020 at 9:56

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