Many of us use cash every day, whether we have to handle the currency for our jobs or because we need to use money at the store for everyday essentials. But since money is passed around so frequently, it’s also one of the riskiest vectors for transferring infectious diseases like COVID-19.
It’s true that COVID-19 is mostly transmitted through breathing. But, it can still hop from person-to-person by getting on a shared surface, like the surface of a coin or a dollar bill, eventually making its way into another person’s body if they handle the contaminated money then proceed to touch their face. That’s why it’s crucial to know how to sanitize money.
Only by safely sanitizing the money can you make sure that you minimize your potential risk of contracting COVID-19 or bringing any unwanted germs into your household. But different types of currency require different sanitation methods since they’re made with different materials or might react differently to things like water.
Let’s break down the top five tips for sanitizing money now.
Does Money Carry Germs?
Absolutely. According to the CDC, COVID-19 – along with thousands of other types of germs and bacteria – can survive on money surfaces, like dollar bills, coins, and credit and debit cards. While COVID-19 is primarily transferred through the air, some of its germs can still easily settle, for instance, on a coin you handle.
Then, it's all too easy for those germs from that coin to get on your hands, then get to your mouth. It's simple to see how money can act as an efficient vector for this and other diseases.
That’s why it’s important to know how to sanitize money, both to help stay safe during the current pandemic and to help avoid spreading diseases in the future.
Different Rules for Different Currencies
While it’s important to sanitize and clean your money, you have to do so differently based on the material that the currency is made of. For instance, Australian money is made of polymer materials rather than regular paper, so it’s a little more durable and can withstand washing a lot better than an American dollar.
The good news is that there is a way to sanitize practically every currency type. You just have to know which tools to use!
Sanitizing Money – Top 5 Tips
Let’s break down the main tips you should know if you want to carefully and consistently sanitize your money.
#1: Sanitize Credit/Debit Cards with an Alcohol Wipe
Credit and debit cards are actually preferred methods of money transfer according to the CDC and other health organizations. That’s because only one person needs to handle credit or debit cards to make a transaction: you.
This being said, credit or debit cards can still easily pick up germs just from being in the proximity of POS systems or terminals. When you go to swipe or insert your credit or debit card, it may pick up germs that can remain on the surface for some time from even a second of physical contact.
Therefore, it’s important to know how to sanitize credit and debit cards. You might think that hand sanitizer will work fine, but it’s not the optimal choice.
That’s because hand sanitizer still takes a little time to dry off, during which it can affect your credit or debit cards negatively. Instead, alcohol wipes are a much better choice. Alcohol wipes are disposable and quick to use, and they often contain a higher concentration of alcohol than some cheaper hand sanitizer options.
Dr. Brite’s Unscented Alcohol Wipes are a perfect example. They use a concentration of 70% isopropyl alcohol and several natural essential oils. Thus, they can capably sterilize the surfaces of your credit and debit cards but don’t contain toxic compounds.
Wiping your credit or debit cards down once with a single alcohol wipe should do the trick. You can alternatively wash your credit and debit cards with soap and hot water: the best way, by far, to get rid of germs and bacteria overall.
#2: Wash and Sanitize Coins
Coins are similar to credit and debit cards in terms of sanitizing strategies. These are made of hard metals, so you don’t need to worry about water or other cleansing compounds causing damage to the currency.
You can either follow the above recommendation and use alcohol wipes or wash your coins in soap and water. Soap and water is recommended above any other sterilization or sanitation method since those compounds are the best at dismantling bacteria and germs like COVID-19.
However, if you don’t have any soap and water available, hand sanitizer or alcohol wipes are good alternatives and are far superior to not cleaning your coins at all. When cleaning your coins, you only need to wash the surfaces for a few seconds. Remember, bacteria like COVID-19 are relatively fragile and should come apart with a short application of any tough cleaning solution.
Don’t have enough time? Fill a bucket with hot water and soap and throw all your coins in there to soak. Just be sure to turn them over as you draw them out and dry them off to fully clean them.
#3: Soak Dollars in the Sun
What about dollar bills? In America, dollars are still primarily made of mostly paper. This means you can’t get them wet without risking them tearing or crumbling in your pocket or wallet. Furthermore, some vendors won’t accept wet money if it hasn’t dried before you try to exchange it.
However, there's another solution: the sun. Turns out, viruses like COVID-19 (and practically every other infectious disease) are vulnerable to UV radiation, which is the same kind that the sun emits every day. By placing your dollar bills in the sun, you'll expose their surfaces to ample amounts of UV light, which breaks apart bacteria and viruses.
The optimal strategy is to let your dollars out in the sun for two hours per side. This gives their surfaces ample time to be saturated in UV light, breaking down any bacteria that might be sitting there.
You can alternatively use a UV lamp if you have one handy. This is really useful since it means you don’t have to rotate your dollar bills in and out of a “sun-soaking” spot, like a place on your desk that gets a lot of sunlight.
#4: Don’t Wash Dollar Bills!
It’s important to never wash your dollar bills with soap and water, even if that’s technically the best way to get rid of germs and bacteria. Your dollars will progressively become weaker and you may even wash out the dye on the paper, potentially rendering the currency useless.
#5: Sanitize Your Hands Frequently
Here’s one last tip: wash your hands!
Even if you go to the trouble of sanitizing your currency frequently, you’ll still likely get plenty of germs and bacteria on your hands over the course of a regular day. That’s why it’s important to wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
Soap and water are effective since the astringent properties of hand soap can pull apart bacterial walls. This isn’t too dissimilar to what hand sanitizer does, but the soap added with heat is incredibly effective. Furthermore, some rare viruses are resistant to alcohol’s effects, making sanitizer ineffective. Thankfully, COVID-19 is not on that list.
But what if soap and water aren’t available? In this case, the CDC does recommend using hand sanitizer whenever possible. Hand sanitizer is easier to apply on the go and doesn’t rely on heat in order to successfully sanitize your skin.
Dr. Brite’s Hand Sanitizer options are excellent examples of these products. For instance, our Unscented Sanitizer Gel utilizes 70% isopropyl alcohol, which exceeds the CDC recommendation for alcohol concentration. It’s also methanol-free and infused with several essential oils – these can help to prevent your hands from feeling too dry or flaky after applying the hand sanitizer.
Remember, you only need to apply a small dollop of hand sanitizer to spread enough around your hands. Do this every time you handle money, and both your currency and your hands will be as germ-free as possible.
It’s difficult to remain safe in these trying times. It’s particularly tough to make sure that your hands and environment are as sanitized as possible if you have to handle money frequently. But if you can’t stick with credit and debit cards, make sure to thoroughly clean your currency using the above tips based on their type and material.
Furthermore, make sure that you wash and sanitize your hands whenever you touch outside surfaces or items that may have been exposed to germs and COVID-19.
Contact Dr. Brite if you have any questions about our hand sanitizer products, alcohol wipes, or other offerings, and stay safe out there!