Since the outbreak of coronavirus health officials and experts have advised washing hands regularly for 20 seconds at a time.
– Why is hand-washing so important?
Germs exist on surfaces in our everyday living spaces, says Professor Wendy Graham, who works at the department of infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Hands are one of the most common means by which germs are transferred from surface to surface, for example on door handles and taps, and potentially then to other parts of the body like the mouth, Prof Graham said.
– How long can coronavirus survive on surfaces?
The virus is thought to be able to remain on hard surfaces for up to 48 hours and soft surfaces for around 24 hours, deputy chief medical officer for England Jenny Harries said.
She said as a precaution, officials are using a 72-hour upper limit.
But it is not a strong virus and can be cleaned well with normal household detergents and bleach, she added.
– How can people reduce their exposure to germs?
Try not to touch certain surfaces, keep surfaces at home and at work clean and regularly wash your hands thoroughly.
– What if I have to use public transport?
Prof Graham advises washing your hands if you have to touch surfaces which are frequently touched by other people, like handrails, poles and grab handles on Tubes, trains and buses.
– Is my mobile phone spreading germs?
Devices you touch often, like your mobile phone, should be kept clean using a wipe recommended by the manufacturer, Prof Graham said.
The same applies to surfaces such as a keyboard and mouse at work.
Another expert, Professor Francois Balloux, professor of computational systems biology, and director of UCL Genetics Institute, said phones are not a major spreader unless they are being shared.
He said disinfecting them “wouldn’t do any harm, but unless we share our phone with others, it is not obvious to me how disinfecting them could protect us, or limit the spread of Covid-19”.
– What else can I do?
Prof Graham recommends using a tissue to open and close toilet doors.
She advised to throw the tissue away afterwards and then wash your hands.
Prof Graham reiterated official guidance to ensure you wash your hands before and after you arrive at work and at home and as often as possible throughout the day.
Care should be taken around other items like handbags, which should be cleaned and not set on the floor or other unclean surfaces, restoration retailer Handbag Clinic advised.