How long cold germs live on objects depends on the particular strain of cold virus and the type of object the germs are living on. Hard non-porous objects, such as doorknobs and countertops, allow germs to live longer than porous objects, such as paper or clothing.
Cold germs can live outside the body anywhere from a few seconds to approximately 48 hours.
Most surfaces, including clothing, may carry germs. The best way to eliminate these germs is to wash your clothing regularly. Experts recommend washing clothes in water above 180 degrees, which will eliminate more germs than a cold cycle. Some researchers have also found that bacteria can flourish in washing machines, which causes germs to only be diluted instead of eliminated.
It is possible for cold germs to linger on a toothbrush, but the chance of re-infection from one’s own toothbrush is rare. Toothbrush packages used to advise consumers to replace their toothbrushes after a cold because of the threat of germs staying behind. However, once someone has been infected with a particular strain of a virus, the body develops antibodies to limit the risk of re-infection. Therefore, even if the cold germs do remain on the toothbrush, it should still be safe to use.
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