MRSA is usually passed by skin-to-skin contact or by sharing personal items like razors, sports equipment, or towels with someone who has the infection. To protect against MRSA, it’s important to keep surfaces clean and practice good hygiene.

About 1 in 3 people carry staph bacteria in their noses. Most of the time, this germ doesn’t cause any harm, but it can enter a person’s body through a wound or rash and develop into an infection.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is an infection caused by staph bacteria that are resistant to some antibiotics. MRSA commonly affects people in hospitals or other healthcare settings who have weakened immune systems.

If it isn’t treated, the infection can become life-threatening and lead to sepsis or pneumonia.

Read on to learn more about what kills MRSA on surfaces and ways you can prevent the transmission of this infection.

Keeping surfaces clean is an important way to control the transmission of bacteria and prevent the spread of MRSA. MRSA can live on some surfaces, such as furniture, towels, razors, or athletic equipment, for weeks.


Detergents and cleaners remove dirt and germs from surfaces. They’re often used to lift dirt, dust, or other matter that inhibits a disinfectant from working properly. Sometimes, cleaning agents and disinfectants are combined into one product.

The EPA regulates products and provides a list of registered disinfectants that are effective against MRSA. Products with labels that say they work against staph will also kill MRSA.

Detergents and cleaners

Detergents and cleaners remove dirt and germs from surfaces. They are often used to lift dirt, dust, or other matter that inhibits a disinfectant from working properly. Sometimes, cleaning agents and disinfectants are combined into one product.

It’s important to carefully follow the instructions provided on the cleaner or disinfectant label. Each product will have different instructions for how to use it. For example, the label will explain:

  • whether the product is safe to use
  • whether it needs to be diluted
  • whether you need to wear protective equipment such as gloves or an apron
  • how to clean the surface before or after use
  • how to apply the solution
  • how long to keep the wet solution on the surface (called “contact time,” which can range from seconds to up to 10 minutes, depending on the product)

Typically, the general recommendation is to use enough solution to completely wet the surface and then allow it to dry, but you should confirm this by checking the label.

Handling chemicals can be irritating. It’s important to follow the safety instructions on the product label.

Don’t use bleach to clean surfaces

The use of household bleach is linked to health problems, such as eye irritation, skin irritation, and asthma. If you do use bleach, use with caution and see if the label provides instructions on how to disinfect or sanitize surfaces.

If there are no directions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends mixing 1/4 cup of bleach with 1 gallon of water for products that contain 5.25%–6.0% bleach. Also, be sure to protect your eyes with goggles and your skin with gloves.

Don’t use disinfectants or detergent on your body

Never place disinfectants or cleaners directly on your skin or wound. This can lead to severe skin irritation.

Don’t use the same cloth to wipe multiple surfaces

Use a clean cloth for each new surface in order to prevent spreading MRSA from one area to another.

To prevent the spread of MRSA, it’s recommended that you:

  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds often throughout the day (especially after touching wounds).
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if you can’t wash your hands.
  • Clean high-touch surfaces in your home daily with a disinfectant.
  • Cover your wounds with clean, dry bandages.
  • Don’t pick at your sores.
  • Discard used bandages promptly.
  • Keep your fingernails short.
  • Avoid sharing personal items, such as razors, towels, clothing, or washcloths.
  • Wash laundry before sharing clothes with others.
  • Change bedsheets and towels at least once a week.

You might have questions about how to clean and protect against MRSA.

Does hand sanitizer kill staphylococcus aureus?

If you don’t have access to water and soap, hand sanitizers are a good alternative for killing bacteria. However, research suggests sanitizers must contain an alcohol concentration of between 60–80% to effectively kill microorganisms on hands.

Does alcohol kill MRSA?

Yes, higher concentrations of alcohol can kill bacteria, such as MRSA and staph germs. In one study from 2013, only solutions of 95% or 100% rubbing alcohol were effective at inhibiting MRSA growth.

Does vinegar kill MRSA?

There’s some evidence to suggest apple cider vinegar can kill MRSA in a lab setting. But, more research is needed before doctors can recommend vinegar supplementation to people with MRSA.

Does peroxide kill MRSA?

Some research shows that higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, of at least a 35% solution, can kill MRSA.

Do antibacterial wipes kill MRSA?

Antibacterial wipes that list staph on their label will also kill MRSA.

How long can MRSA live on clothes?

The CDC says that MRSA can survive on surfaces and items such as clothing or towels for hours, days, or even weeks.

MRSA can become serious if untreated. Fortunately, there are many ways to protect yourself from the germs that cause this infection. Keeping surfaces and other items clean is one important measure. Disinfectants and cleaning agents are good options for sanitizing, but you should always read the product label first to make sure you’re using it correctly.