Avoiding coronavirus is basically everybody's top goal right now, but it can be tricky — there are still so many unanswered questions. For instance, does coronavirus live on money? Nobody wants COVID-19 lurking in their wallet.
Although the exact length of time that COVID-19 can survive on money (and other surfaces) is still being studied, here's what medical experts know so far. "If it behaves like the other coronaviruses, its 'life period' on surfaces ranges anywhere from 2 hours to 9 days. That's why the most straightforward answer would be yes, coronavirus can be transmitted via cash," board certified family physician Nikola Djordjevic M.D. tells Romper. "Research on U.S. money shows that COVID-19 can persist for a more extended period in comparison to cardboard and paper-based products." Remember, paper money is not made from actual paper (at least, not in the U.S. at least). "Money is made of 25% linen and 75% cotton, which provides increased surface area for bacteria to survive on," Leann Poston M.D. tells Romper in an email. "COVID can survive on hard surfaces for up to 24-48 hours, but its survival on soft surfaces such as money will be much less." Researchers will likely know more about exactly how long COVID-19 can survive on cash in the future, but for now it looks like the coronavirus can linger on your dollar bills for anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
Disturbing as this information might be, resist the temptation to run all your bills through the dishwasher. (Please don't do this.) "In order to be infected with the virus you would not only need to transfer the virus from recently infected money so that it was now on your hands, but then infect yourself by using that part of your infected hand to touch your eyes, nose or mouth which is where the virus needs to get to in order to infect your body," Dr. Michelle Dickinson, a nanotechnologist who has spoken extensively about coronavirus, tells Romper in an email. Getting infected with coronavirus simply by handling cash is possible but not likely, says Dr. Poston. "If someone recently sneezed on the dollar bill and you touch it, then your face, it is possible," she adds.
If you want to reduce the risk of contacting COVID-19 from cash anyway (totally understandable), then following the usual coronavirus hygiene tips is key. "Washing hands often with soap and water and not touching your face is so important, especially if you are handling money often," says Dr. Dickinson. "Another option for those handling cash that want to reduce their risk is to wear gloves — this usually makes people more aware about when they touch their face and they are less likely to do this with gloves on." Just follow the golden rules of the coronavirus — wash your hands and don't touch your face — it's possible to decrease your chances of spreading the virus though contact with cash.
Nikola Djordjevic MD, medical advisor and Co-Founder of HealthCareers
Leann Poston, M.D., doctor with Invigor Medical