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What We Know About Disinfecting Metal Surfaces in the Home & Workplace

As the world collectively fights against the COVID-19 pandemic, we all continue to wait for new information. While there is still much to be understood and clarified, some research has suggested that COVID-19 has the potential to survive on stainless steel surfaces (commonly used in home design and commercial kitchens) for up to nine days. While this is not cause for alarm, it is important that everyone have access to information about best practices for disinfection and sanitation in the home and workplace for the good of our families and the larger community.

In times like these, we believe in doing our best to offer help where possible. Because the thing we know best at Cutters Fab is metal (and because we specialize in making sanitary, food-safe products), we hoped it would be helpful to pass along what we know about sanitizing stainless steel—the most commonly used metal in home design and the workplace.

1. You can sanitize stainless steel with simple soap and water (and some forceful scrubbing)

You don’t necessarily need to use complex household cleaners to disinfect metal surfaces. An expert from the American Chemical Society suggests that using simple soap and water to clean a metal surface will get the job done if you use a sponge and scrub with the same degree of force you would use if you were attempting to remove a sticky residue. Regardless of whether you choose to use the other solutions included on this list to disinfect metal surfaces, every surface should be cleaned with soap and water before any other disinfecting solution is applied to it.

2. Isopropyl alcohol is an excellent general disinfectant—but its concentration must be at least 70 percent

Be sure to check the label of the alcohol you are using to clean metal surfaces before relying on it to disinfect. If the isopropyl alcohol you have has less than 70 percent concentration, it may not be effective. It’s also important to note that at too high of a concentration, the alcohol may evaporate too quickly to properly disinfect surfaces. The 70 percent alcohol solution should be sprayed or wiped onto the metal surface directly and left to sit for a minimum 30 seconds to properly disinfect.

3. Be vigilant when using bleach

Bleach may not be the best choice for metal counter tops or appliances, as it can damage and discolor metal over time. It is, however, a useful tool for killing COVID-19, so long as the bleach you use contains 0.1% sodium hypochlorite. One thing to keep in mind if you choose to use bleach as a disinfectant is that it can cause serious and even life-threatening injury if mixed with a number of other cleaning products. Read more about dangerous combinations of bleach and other household cleaners here.

4. Vinegar is not a recognized disinfectant and cannot clear COVID-19 from metal surfaces

The EPA does not recognize vinegar as a disinfectant and suggests that it will not clear metal surfaces free of coronavirus or the common flu. Contrary to rumors currently circulating on the internet, vodka is also not reliable as a disinfectant, as its alcohol concentration is too low to be fully effective.

5. Copper surfaces have natural antimicrobial properties

While the information in this article pertains particularly to disinfecting stainless steel surfaces, we though it would be relevant to address the best way to clean copper surfaces as well. The good news is that copper maintains natural antimicrobial properties, and research shows that COVID-19 cannot survive on these surfaces for more than four hours. However, if you’d prefer not to wait that long between cleanings, the soap and water method detailed above will work effectively. Copper can also be cleaned with isopropyl alcohol, though the disinfectant has the potential to cause oxidation on raw surfaces.

We wish everyone in our beloved city of Phoenix, Arizona and across the world good health and patience in this unprecedented time. We look forward to the day we can all return to business as usual, and until then we will continue to look for opportunities to create useful tools for members of our community on the front lines of this fight.

-The Team at Cutters Fab


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