Think back to the last package you received. Maybe it was a cardboard box from Amazon filled with books, makeup and/or niche grocery items. Perhaps you ordered food to be delivered to your home. If you are like most people, you have picked up a quick bite to eat from the fast food drive-through or enjoyed some takeout food as traditional sit-down restaurants are temporarily closed amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
Sadly, most people immediately open boxes, packages, bags of food and other containers without properly sanitizing them. There really is a “right” way and a “wrong” way to handle and open boxes amidst the coronavirus pandemic, also referred to as the COVID-19 outbreak. Follow the tips detailed below and you will have done your part to remain safe and healthy during these trying times.
How to Disinfect Packages to Avoid Exposure
Now that coronavirus is seemingly ubiquitous, the best approach to opening packages is to leave them in a secluded space for 24 hours. Initial research shows coronavirus survives 24 hours or less on cardboard surfaces. Even if the package looks perfectly fine and was not shipped from China, there is a chance coronavirus lingers on its surface. After all, postal workers, UPS handlers and Amazon personnel might carry the virus in an asymptomatic manner, meaning they have no clear symptoms yet still transmit the virus to packages and people.
If you are like most people, you want what’s inside of your box now! Patiently waiting 24 hours for coronavirus to perish might not be feasible. If you cannot wait 24 hours to open the package, bring the package to a workbench or another part of your property that receives minimal foot traffic. If you own disposable protective gloves, wear them while handling the box.
Spray down the entirety of the package with Lysol or another virus and germ-killing spray. Redirect your attention to something else, allowing the spray to work its magic. This waiting period also gives the package time to air dry so you don’t put your hands on an overly moist, spray-laden box. Open up the package, retrieve your items and immediately discard of the cardboard or other packaging material. Wash your hands with anti-bacterial soap for at least 20 seconds after handling the packaging.
How to Disinfect Takeout/Delivery Food Packaging
Health experts rightfully question the prudence of ordering food for delivery or takeout as there is the potential for a food industry worker to cough or sneeze directly on the food. Though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states there is no risk of coronavirus infection from food, the science behind this claim might not be foolproof, especially if a food service worker coughs or sneezes on the food after it is cooked. However, making every single meal at home is just not practical for some people. Furthermore, DIY (do it yourself) home cooking rarely tastes as good as food made at restaurants.
If you order food or hit up the fast food drive-thru lane on your way home, handle the food packaging with care. Put a couple plastic bags in your car so you do not have to put the Styrofoam food packaging on the seat next to you. A sanitized cardboard box will also suffice. Wipe down the Styrofoam, bag or other food container with antibacterial, alcohol wipes (70% alcohol at a minimum) or even spray it down with a virus-killing spray solution.
It is a mistake to eat the food directly out of the packaging from the restaurant. Dump out the food items into your own dish so there is no longer any contact with the packaging materials from the restaurant. Do not touch the food with your hands as they might be laden with the virus or other germs after handling the food packaging. Instead, use a utensil such as a fork or spoon to guide the food out of the package into a bowl, plate or other dish.
Mind Your Hands and the Location of the Food Packaging
If you own a pair of disposable protective gloves, wear them while handling the food container to mitigate the potential for coronavirus infection. Thoroughly wash your hands with hot water and antibacterial soap before eating. Discard of the food packaging material right away. Furthermore, it will also help to spray down the area on the table, counter or other surface where the food packaging was positioned before transferring the food to your own dishes. If your sink is large enough, put the food package there instead of on the counter. Those who opt for delivery should request “contactless” service in which prepaid food is dropped off in a bag at the front door to minimize human interaction. After all, it merely takes something as brief and simple as the exchange of a few dollars to transmit COVID-19.