Keeping your commercial property clean isn’t always easy. Your surfaces and doorknobs need the most attention on the days that you’re busiest, and those are the days where you’re least able to clean. When you’ recreating your cleaning policies, you may wonder how often you need to get the doorknobs. Afterall, every customer and staff member will touch them, making them a high priority for cleaning (and one that is often overlooked).

But, cleaning each doorknob on the property is time-consuming, so you only want to do it as often as you need to keep things clean. So, how long can germs live on a doorknob? We’ll answer that question and show you some options that can help you reduce your need to clean your doorknobs, or that will make cleaning them a lot less demanding.

How Long Can Germs Live on a Doorknob?

Different viruses and bacteria can live on different surfaces for various lengths of time. As a hard surface, doorknobs are more resistant to germs than other, more forgiving environments. For example, fabric and skin are a better environment for germs. Porous surfaces, like concrete, are also better for germs. But germs will die faster on metal doorknobs.

Material is not the only factor that determines how long germs live. High and low temperatures, as well as low humidity, can reduce the time that certain bacteria and viruses can live on your doorknob. Assuming that we’re talking about your internal doorknobs, which are room temperature, then you have to worry most about are mesophiles. According to PopSci, these bacteria survive best at room temperature because that is what they adapted for.

Mesophiles include:

  • coli: E.coli, which can live on your doorknob for up to a day.
  • Strep throat viruses: Streptococcus pnemoniae can live for months on hard surfaces.
  • Clostridium: Spores of some kinds of clostridiumcan live on surfaces for months.

Mesophiles aren’t the only bacteria and viruses that can live on your doorknob and cause illness. Several other common germs should be of concern as well, including:

  • Cold viruses:According to LifeSavvy, cold viruses generally last only a few hours, up to 24 hours, on hard surfaces.
  • Flu viruses:Flu viruses last about nine hours on hard surfaces.
  • Salmonella:Salmonella may last from four hours to four days, but more commonly for four hours.
  • Covid-19:The latest research on Covid-19 has found that it lasts for a few days on stainless steel and plastic, which your doorknob may be made from.

So, how often should you clean your doorknobs? Ideally, you should clean them regularly, but what is that? It depends on what kind of bacteria and viruses you want to target. If you’re trying to eliminate something specific, whether it’s Covid-19 or something you know, if likely to be harbored on your property, then you should clean as often as that specific germ calls for. For example, if you’re a grocery store trying to limit the spread of listeria, your local health authority can tell you how long listeria lives and how to best clean your doorknobs to prevent it’s spread.

How to Reduce the Spread of Germs in Your Building

Wrist pull installed on a bathroom door

That advice is for very specific health concerns. What if you have no particular objective other than to keep your property clean and reduce the spread of any germs through your property? It depends on how often the door is used and by how many. Once per day seems to be a good bare minimum for exterior door handles.

Afterall, the spread from these doors can happen quickly. Research has demonstrated that germs from your doorknob can be spread through your office quickly. According to CBS News, this study looked at the Norovirus, a common cause of the stomach flu, and determined that it can spread throughout the building in as little as two hours.

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How do you reduce the spread of germs from your doorknob through the building? Here are a few solutions you can implement:

  • Hand hygiene:Encourage staff to wash their hands when they arrive, so that they don’t spread the germs from your doorknobs through the store or property.
  • Sanitizers: It is unreasonable to ask most customers or guests to wash their hands when they come in the door. It takes too much time, and they often don’t want to visit your bathroom before they do whatever they arrived to do. So, you could have an alcohol-based hand sanitizer available at the door for them to use instead. This only takes a few moments, and most people will happily use it. However, depending on the volume of guests or customers you get, this may become a considerable cost over time.
  • Cleaning equipment: You should clean your doors as often as your local health authority recommends. They may also recommend specific kinds of sanitizers to combat the special challenges of your environment. For example, those working in health care settings may need to use special cleaning agents that can kill the specific challenges they are dealing with. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers may not kill, for example, Cryptosporidium.
  • Automatic doors: If no one touches the doors with their hands, they don’t spread their germs to it. Automatic doors aren’t just convenient, they are also more sanitary too. Unlike hand sanitizers, they are a one-time cost, and they offer more benefits than just cleanliness.
  • Hands-free access control system: Is your building, or parts of your building off-limits to the general public, or certain staff members? Some access control systems, especially locks and keys, spread germs. However, there are hands-free options that work with a wave.
  • Wrist and foot pulls: One of the best low-tech ways to keep hands off your doorknobs is to simply install wrist or foot pulls. Foot pulls are great for bathroom doors, where many people already prefer touch-free hardware. Wrist pulls are great for restaurant kitchens where servers may have their hands full, but can also be installed on other kinds of doors.
  • Copper door hardware: Some research has found that Covid-19 dies faster on copper hardware, in four hours instead of the 72 hours it takes to die on plastic and steel. This may be true of various other germs as well. Investing in copper door hardware might be worthwhile if you have large health concerns at your facility. For example, doctor’s offices and those in food production may benefit the most.

Do you need new doors or door hardware solutions to keep your commercial space cleaner? Reach out to the team at CLAD to discuss your options.