We don’t have enough sanitizer to deal with all the items that come in from the outside world. It is no longer available for sale anywhere. So, we are exploring ways to reduce the amount of sanitizer needed, to make what little we do have last longer.

Paper items, the mail, are particularly demanding, they have relatively large surfaces to be covered on two sides. Also paper gets soggy when sprayed with liquid sanitizers.

We know the the virus will not live forever on surfaces. It lives longer at cooler temperatures, and at room temperature about 3 to 4 days. So I proposed a system of a series of containers for our mail. And this is what Attila came up with as a result. He built us a Mail-On-Hold-Box, out of cardboard and packing tape. It will sit in the locked garage, the daily mail will go into a designated slot, and stay there for 7 days, not touching anything else, then it will be removed and brought indoors when the next week’s mail deliveries begin, to be replaced by the new weekday mail. This will give all mail items 7 days of self-isolation, before they are brought into the “safe zone”. I am mulling over the fact that the virus lives longer at cold temperatures, thinking about how cold it is in the garage, above freezing but not warm. I haven’t decided if I will trust 7 days at that temperature!

I like this invention particularly since no purchases were required, very little plastic was used, and most of it is recyclable here on the property as compost or mulch.

Mail-on-hold box.
Mail-On-Hold-Box, where the mail will self-isolate for 7 days before being brought into the “safe zone.”



Date: 1:00 PM EDT Tuesday 24 March 2020
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.4 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 3.3°C
Dew point: 1.3°C
Humidity: 87%
Wind: S 12 km/h
Visibility: 24 km


“Necessity, who is the mother of invention.”
427 BC – 347 BC

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Hi there! Paper and cardboard are only viable for 24 hours. Metals and plastic, pretty much 3 days – though we keep ours 4 days, as at 3 days small amounts of virus were still detected on stainless steel.

We have a shopping bag where we quarantine our plastic packaged foods. Mail just sits on a table for a day before we look at it. (The NIH site I linked to only mentions cardboard but a CDC article I read the other day grouped paper with cardboard, and gave the same timing of 24 hours.)

Of course, you need to do what you think is best for you. Just passing on info.

We have a rug being delivered for the cottage bedroom that may or may not make it here with essential services only being allowed. Our bedroom has old, rough, warped wood floorboards that constantly worry me as I had a 3 inch splinter in my foot when I was a young teen from a similar floor. So, I ordered the rug since we’re going to be here for a while.

If the rug arrives in a timely manner, DH will wear his work clothes to bring it in. It’ll probably be wrapped in plastic, so we’ll place it in back bedroom for 4 days and DH will then quarantine his work clothes for 24 hours.

The virus lives shorter times on porous items and longer times on non-porous items, so the clothing doesn’t need to quarantine as long as the plastic.

Anyhow, that’s what life is like here.

Oh! I don’t think I’ve said this before but last year we named the cottage Blue Bayou. So, that’s what life is like here right now at Blue Bayou. 😀


Very impressive, Maggie.
Would slitting the mail open in the garage and tossing the envelopes be an option? Then you could handle the interior mail. I’m thinking it would be over 24 hours since anyone handled the interior mailing so the virus would have died? I haven’t been that diligent with mail. I get the mail pieces and set them separately on a small table for 24 hours. I was my hands thoroughly after handling mail or boxes.

Where did you see that COVID-19 lives at room temperature for 3 to 4 days? I wish we knew that heat killed it. I actually experimented with microwaving a piece of junk mail for a minute. It got quite hot and didn’t burst into flames.


Thanks fr the link, Maggie!