Q. I read your story about keeping the box that your TV came in in case you need to send it back. But we are throwing away every box we get now because we are afraid it might have the Coronavirus on it. And we are thinking of buying a TV from Amazon. What should we do with the box? Is there anyway to protect ourselves here? Very confused. — Scarlett, Vero Beach, Florida. 

Scarlett, that’s a great question.

Normally I recommend that you keep the box your new TV came in for 30 days. Your television will come with a free warranty period, or you might buy an extended warranty. If something happens to the TV during the warranty period, you will need the box to ship the set back to the manufacturer for repairs in case there isn’t an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.

And with many states in Coronavirus shutdown now, good luck on finding an authorized dealer anywhere.

Why do I say keep the box for 30 days? If a new TV has issues, it often occurs in the first month after you install it. Also, many web sites will allow you to return it for a refund within a certain time period, and it’s usually within 30 days. So if you need a repair, or a refund, you’ll need the box. (It’s also wise to keep the box of other electronics for 30 days, such as streaming players, computers, laptops, etc. for the same reasons.)

But as the old saying goes, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. How on earth do you keep a box that may have the Coronavirus on it?

The CDC (Center For Disease Control) has said that Coronavirus germs can stay alive on cardboard for up to 24 hours. (In contrast, it’s up to 3 or 4 days for plastic or steel.) So if you are purchasing your item online, the odds are good that you won’t catch the virus from the box because it will be at least a day from the time the item is shipped to the time you receive it. (And with some items, such as a large TV, it will likely be several days.)

“There is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures,” the CDC states.

However, this is an uncertain time and we are all opting for more caution than normal. So I would suggest that you wipe down your box before opening it. This is likely not necessary, as the CDC noted, but it might make you sleep better at night. Then, after you open the box, you can store it in an out-of-the-way area of your home (just as you probably would anyway).

Scarlett, hope that helps. Happy viewing, and stay safe!

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— Phillip Swann

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