5 Reasons Why Using Objects to Touch Surfaces is NOT a Good Idea During COVID-19 Period

Many people are turning to innovations to help combat the inconvenience COVID-19 is causing to our lives.

I personally feel excited about reading these ideas, but I would like to caution you on some of the serious practical aspects of using them.

These are some considerations you should think about before using objects to touch or press surfaces instead of your hands.

1. Cross Contamination

Using a foreign object to press a button only provides psychological assurance. Once the object touches the surface, it will be contaminated by the surface. It will then be kept in your pocket, handbag, etc and the contaminants are now transferred to other personal belongings in these storages. The next time you put your hand in, the contamination may also be transferred unknowingly to your fingers.

*Using a modified lighter does not work as the pressurized gas released prior to the ignition is great enough to send the contaminants air-borne before they can be incinerated.

2. Practicality

Using a retractable object may work, but this means that it can mostly be used for a specific task (e.g. a gadget to press lift buttons, a separate gadget to open doors, etc). Having a retractable multi-design tool may be too bulky to carry around, or even too costly.

3. Environmental Impact

One-time use objects (e.g. cotton buds, toothpicks, etc) are harmful to the environment. If you still want to use them, please find a proper place to dispose of the contaminated object after use.

4. Damaging Surfaces

Using sharp objects to press surfaces may cause damage to the target surface. For example, if the surface has been coated with self-disinfecting antimicrobial solution like sdst, the sharp object may scratch off this protective layer, allowing corrosion and contamination to set in, leading to greater risks for subsequent users as the surface can harbour even more germs now.

This also leads to replacement costs for the damaged surface, and environmental issues with the disposal of the damaged surface.  

5. Cleanliness of Objects Used

Most people do not take the time to decontaminate the objects used to touch surfaces. This results in accumulation and transferring of contaminants from the object to other surfaces. If you’re one of the few who does take time to decontaminate your tools and objects, the time could be equally spent washing your fingers frequently after using your fingers to press surfaces instead.

Instead of using objects, I would recommend using your knuckles to touch surfaces where necessary, followed by washing of your hands, and aided by coating high-touch surfaces with self-disinfecting antimicrobial coating that helps kill germs 24/7.

Ultimately, frequent washing (or sanitization using a hand sanitizer) of your hands is a always a good habit to have, during COVID-19 period and beyond.

Dr. Yeo Wee Ming is an experienced microbiologist with over 10 years of experience working with microbes and anti-microbial products. He is also the Managing Director of SUTL Environtech Pte Ltd, master distributor of sd products in Singapore and Asia.

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