Should You Be Disinfecting Your Mail?

There's still a lot of unknowns regarding the spread of the novel coronavirus.

US MAIL BAG OVERFLOWING SPILLING OUT POSTED ENVELOPESH. Armstrong Roberts/ClassicStock/Getty Images

Checking the mail

It’s become an everyday part of life in modern society to go outside and check the mailbox to see if any mail has come in. While it’s annoying to receive notifications for bills and other necessary payments, here’s how you can stop getting so much junk mail—for good. However, as you’re going through envelopes from friends, loved ones, and magazine subscriptions, just how clean are your packages and envelopes, anyway?

How clean are your packages?

Armed with hand sanitizer, wet wipes, and the classic hot soap and water, it still takes a lot of time and effort to clean, sanitize, and disinfect everything in your vicinity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide a lot of tips and information on their website including this guide on when and how to wash your hands. Even though there are still a lot of unknown variables regarding the novel coronavirus, named COVID-19, the CDC can still use insight from previous coronaviruses like SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV as a reference and guide.

According to the CDC’s FAQ section on its website, it doesn’t seem likely that the coronavirus can spread through packages sent through the mail. “In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures.” However, it’s still a good idea to wash your hands, especially immediately after touching these 10 things.

If you’re concerned about COVID-19, your Amazon package will most likely be OK by the time it reaches your doorstep. “Coronaviruses are generally thought to be spread most often by respiratory droplets,” the CDC website continues. “Currently, there is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with imported goods and there have not been any cases of COVID-19 in the United States associated with imported goods.” Make sure you know what happens to undeliverable mail with no return address.

While the “motto” for the United States Postal Service is “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds,” it may not apply to this easily transmitted coronavirus. United States Postal Service workers can get coronavirus, too. But could coronavirus transfer from the postal worker to your package, and then to you? “If they have the virus, and there are droplets transmitted to the package, it is theoretically possible to get the virus since it can live on surfaces for up to nine days,” Darshan Shah, MD, founder and Medical Director at Next Health, tells Refinery29. But, again, while it’s possible, it’s still unlikely. Here are 4 household products that kill coronavirus, according to Consumer Reports.

Cleaning out your mailbox

Your email inbox isn’t the only inbox that needs to be cleaned. Your physical mailbox needs to be cleaned, too. Angie’s List recommends mixing a few drops of dish soap with warm water and cleaning both the inside and the outside of the mailbox to remove dirt. Once wiped down, disinfect the surface with the appropriate disinfectant spray. Next, make sure you know these 30 things you should clean in the next 30 days.

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Madeline Wahl
Madeline Wahl is a Digital Associate Editor/Writer at RD.com. Previously, she worked for HuffPost and Golf Channel. Her writing has appeared on HuffPost, Red Magazine, McSweeney's, Pink Pangea, The Mighty, and Yahoo Lifestyle, among others. More of her work can be found on her website: www.madelinehwahl.com