A new secret to fighting germs has been discovered just in time for flu season Associated Press

The next breakthrough in cleaning products may have something in common with Abe Lincoln.

New research has determined that copper — you know, the metal that composes pennies (or at least used to) — is one of the most effective things at killing the virus behind some of the worst respiratory diseases.

The coronavirus, which is linked to SARS and MERS, has been known to survive on surfaces for days. That means that if anyone coughs in your kitchen, it could be tough to stop the spread of the disease.

But the research out of the University of Southampton found that copper and a range of copper alloys can kill the virus within minutes.

“Transmission of infectious diseases via contaminated surfaces is far more important than was originally thought, and this includes viruses that cause respiratory infections. This is especially important when the infectious dose is low and just a few virus particles can initiate an infection,” lead researcher Sarah Warnes said in a Eurekalert! report. “With the lack of antiviral treatments, copper offers a measure that can help reduce the risk of these infections spreading.”

Dr. Warnes and her fellow researchers have previously proven that copper fights influenza, norovirus and MRSA, so it seems like it is high time to get it bottled up and on store shelves.

This fall has been tough on my family, with germs passed back and forth from the kids’ school and within our own house. I’d love to have another tool on the cleaning supply aisle to help keep us healthy. Cheers to the team at the University of Southampton for that!

Author placeholder image About the author:
Lilee Williams is a freelance journalist and scientific study junkie based in Georgia. Email her at
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