A & R Cleaning Services at Porthcawl Medical Centre

How Long Can Germs Live on Surfaces?

We all know what it’s like to have a nasty cold and a bedridden induced flu and with germs getting plenty of press, it’s essential to know how you can combat them in your business.

While germs may be too small to be seen with the naked eye they can live on a variety of surfaces, lying in wait to knock an employee of their feet and make them ill for quite a period of time – which can lead to potential setbacks to your business.

But how long can germs live on surfaces and what can be done to protect you and your employee’s health?

How long can germs live in surfaces?

When germs are on the prowl within your business, no place is safe from their germy claws. Desks, keyboards, computer mice, telephones, printers, door handles and kitchen countertops are just some of the areas that can become plagued with germs. In fact, touching any of these surfaces could potentially put your health at risk.

According to the NHS (National Health Services), the lifespan of a germ varies depending on the type and the surfaces that it’s calling home.

So how long can germs live on surfaces? To find out, we have looked at a few of the common culprits that like to make you and your staff ill.

Cold virus

Everyone has had the common cold and it is the source of many miserable days. The common cold is a virus and like other viruses, it can survive longer on hard, nonporous surfaces like desks, handrails and door handles. On indoor surfaces, the cold virus can remain infectious for up to 24hours.

Flu virus

Flu is another misery-inducing germ and can survive in the air as droplets for hours and live on hard surfaces like phones and keyboards for up to 24hours. Although they can live on hard surfaces and in the air for long periods of time, the flu virus can’t live for long on surfaces such as tissues or on our hands. However, the small window of time that they are alive, the flu virus can strike without warning and can make you or your staff seriously ill.


Although the norovirus is mostly associated with schools and hospitals, it can still make its way into businesses (especially if employees have young children in school). The norovirus is a highly contagious virus can cause some nasty symptoms such as stomach cramps, sickness and diarrhoea. Just like the flu virus, the norovirus can spread through small droplets that travel through the air before settling on surfaces like desks, countertop surfaces and taps.

Like other viruses, the norovirus cannot thrive on porous surfaces like cloths and tissues, but if conditions are favourable, the norovirus can live on surfaces for days or even weeks.


Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus or MRSA bacteria is one of the viruses that antibiotics have little effect on. Although this virus is not normally seen in businesses other than healthcare facilities such as medical centres and hospitals, you should still be careful when it comes to infection control.

How do you protect yourself, your employees from germs?

There isn’t an assured way of getting rid of all the germs and bacteria within your office but there are ways to minimise them and minimise the spread of them within your business.

Personal hygiene

The one thing that everyone knows is essential to combating germs but isn’t practised much. Many people who work in businesses will admit that after using the toilet they won’t wash their hands and not having staff wash their hands after using the toilet is not only gross, it can help spread germs faster around the office.

To avoid germs running rampant within your business and infecting everyone, remind staff to wash their hands after using the toilet or place hand sanitiser bottles by the toilet or communal areas such as the kitchen or the office water cooler.

Regularly cleaning surfaces

As mentioned before germs love to live on hard surfaces such as desks, keyboards, phones, etc, so regularly cleaning them not only removes dirt and debris it can help remove germs. When cleaning use antibacterial wipes between your regular cleans or use surface specific products that are proven to kills germs from surfaces. Also, use different coloured cleaning equipment such as cloths to minimise cross-contamination between surfaces.

As mentioned above regular cleaning not only helps keep on top of the dirt and debris within your business it can help keep on top of the germs within your business. However, if you don’t have time to do the cleaning yourself then why not hire in the professionals like A&R Services.

We have over 40 years cleaning experience within the cleaning industry and know the importance of infection control within businesses (especially of the viruses like the common cold is on the rampage). We know that you can’t get rid of all the germs within your business, but we certainly know how to control them and to do that we train all of our cleaning staff in our colour code method, which minimises cross-contamination between surfaces.