In this article we’re going to look at a very simple tool with the power to change your life by potentially preventing you from picking the Covid19 virus or other germs and bacteria from surfaces. A No Touch Door Opener allows you to open doors without ever touching the door. These tools can also open cupboards, fridge doors, and other simple things that open and close. These are very inexpensive tools so anybody can afford them.
Introduction | The Pandemic That Changed Everything
We are living in truly unusual times, thanks to a global pandemic that nobody could have foreseen. Covid-19 has affected everyone’s lives, irrespective of their socioeconomic status, profession, age, or nationality. And at this point it’s hard to say when things will get back to normal, or if they ever will. I can’t remember the last time I physically met up with a friend or went to the grocery store. That’s because everything from purchasing goods to social interaction is done online nowadays to keep the virus from spreading.
Faced with the threat of catching a highly contagious virus, we now hesitate to partake in activities that we took for granted all our lives. Travel restrictions, mask mandates, curfews, lockdowns, and quarantining have transformed the way we live. People have had to adapt to their new circumstances, in order to survive. Some fell into depression, while others took this as an opportunity to learn new skills to further their careers.
Now that vaccines are being administered to people in fairly large numbers worldwide, it would seem that we’ve managed to defeat this menace. However, with new strains of Covid-19 popping up the effectiveness of these vaccines is somewhat dampened. You still need to wear masks and practice social distancing, because vaccines don’t guarantee immunity from the virus. And every time you go outside, whether it be for work or food, you put yourself at risk of contracting this deadly disease. Most people wear some kind of mask (I recommend a good N95 mask), but they neglect transmission via physical contact.
No Touching Allowed | How Covid Spreads Via Physical Contact
Door handles, ATM machines, elevator buttons, etc. could be contaminated with the virus, which gets an easy ride onto your hand whenever you interact with these objects. And when you use that very same hand to wipe your face or put on a pair of glasses, guess where the virus eventually ends up- inside your body. I make sure to carry a bottle of hand sanitizer (alcohol based) with me whenever I go outside. And I wash my hands for at least 20 seconds with sanitizer/ anti-microbial handwash whenever I return to my house after using a door handle or elevator button. Since I work from home, I don’t need to use disposable gloves but if you do travel outside on a regular basis I strongly recommend keeping a pair of disposable gloves handy. Make sure it’s disposable, regular gloves just act as a portable warehouse for pathogens if you wear them all day (and use them while eating or working).
Recently, I came across a nifty little tool called a “no-touch door opener”. Apparently, they are an extremely hot item right now with millions of people buying them in packs to stay safe whenever they go outdoors. Like I explained earlier, a mask keeps you safe from inhaling the virus in aerosol form. But it doesn’t protect you from transfer via physical contact through door handles or buttons. A no-touch tool is designed so you don’t have to directly open doors with your hands.
These are basically little hooks machined out of brass, which is a metal known to have anti-microbial properties. The corona virus can survive on surfaces like plastic or steel for up to 72 hours, according to this food safety guide published by the WHO. However, the research found copper to be extremely good at resisting viral growth. Because on copper, the Covid-19 virus lives for just 4 hours.
This is no secret, various countries across the world (like India) have been using copper utensils since centuries due to their anti-microbial nature. Brass is an alloy of copper and zinc; hence it retains the same anti-microbial powers. Hence, all of these no-touch door openers are machined out of brass. Make sure the type of brass alloy being used in your door opener has at least 60% copper content.
Is A No-Touch Door Opener Worth It?
Look, I’m not going to pretend this is some game changer like those “unboxing” guys on YouTube with their click-bait thumbnails. However, it’s a very useful tool under the right circumstances. There are certain things it does really well, others… not so much. For instance, it is really good at opening doors with handles. Like the ones at most convenience stores, banks, etc. Occasionally, you’ll come across a door handle that’s a bit too thick to fit inside the “hook” of your no-touch tool. But that’s quite rare.
If you ever have to open a door with a knob instead of a handle, your no-touch tool is more useless than a peephole built into a window. Have you ever seen Captain Hook opening a doorknob? Because he can’t, a hook cannot grip a round knob. It can tug on a handle or push buttons, but can’t rotate knobs the way your fingers do. Got a lot of doorknobs in your workplace or home? It’s a good idea to invest in a box of disposable gloves instead of a no-touch door opener.
Some of these no-touch tools are designed to be multi-functional, so they have bottle openers built into them. You can use them to pop open a beer or soda. And others even have little silicone tips on the front which can be used to operate touchscreens, like on phones and tablets. Certain touchscreens in the store or ATM won’t work with a brass-tipped tool. So you will need a silicone-tipped no-touch tool. However, having that silicone nose means it gathers viruses and keeps them in there for much longer than the rest of the tool which is brass.
Plus, if you open a door with the no-touch tool and put it inside your pant pocket, you are essentially spreading the pathogens onto a new surface. Which is the inside of your pocket, as well as other objects in your pocket. The next time you put your hand inside your pocket to take out the opener, you are contaminating yourself with the virus. That’s why I recommend you get one of the models with a retractable cord attachment that fits onto a belt loop. Either that, or invest in a small carry pouch for the no-touch tool that you can disinfect on a daily basis. You should also disinfect the tool because you might reinfect yourself within that 4-hour period it takes for the virus to die out on brass.
REVIEWS : Best No-Touch Door Openers
Now that’ve explained the importance of protecting yourself from physical Covid transmission as well as the things a no-touch door opener can do, let’s talk about which ones to buy. There’re literally hundreds of these things on the market from different brands, but most of them follow the same basic design principles. A hook-like apparatus with a ring for inserting your finger. Usually machined from brass.
Remember to stay away from the plastic models — they might be cheap, but they will not kill the virus within 4 hours like a brass tool. And they tend to break after just a few weeks of usage, especially if the door you’re opening has some weight to it. If you aren’t using the tool to operate touchpads, remove the silicone tip because it will act like a hotspot of viral activity. Viruses live a lot longer on that tip compared to the brass tool itself. And don’t forget to disinfect the tool daily. You can wipe it with rubbing alcohol, using a paper towel or microfiber cloth. Or just use good old soapy water, that should be more than enough to kill any pathogens (provided you clean it for 20 seconds or more).
Most of these no-touch tools will come with a keychain hole, although there are slightly more expensive versions which have a retractable cord + carabiner for belt loops. I recommend the ones with a retractable cord if you plan to go outdoors regularly, otherwise purchase a little carry pouch so the tool doesn’t cross-contaminate your pocket.
Review : Multifunctional Touchless Door Opener
- High quality and durable metal.
- Suitable for most door handles, so you can open the door without touching the handle.
- With stylus, it can be used on most touch screens and signature pads.
- Push buttons on various equipment such as elevators, ATM, etc. without touching.
- Small keychain tool, easy to carry and use anytime, anywhere.
Ever felt super awkward while using the touchpad at your local grocer or ATM? Well, one of these multifunctional touchless door openers is perfect for you. For a small sum of money, you get a pack of 3 in rose, silver, and gold colors. The metal used isn’t specified as brass, but reviews claim it’s a very durable product. Could be a kind of zinc alloy or just regular old stainless steel.
Either way, you should definitely disinfect this with alcohol wipes every day. That is what you would’ve done anyways, even if it were made from brass. As for the rubber tips, they are excellent for usage on ATM machines, PIN machines at grocery stores, and your car’s touchscreen. You can even use that tip to operate a cellphone or tablet if you’re at a friend’s place.
One thing I really like about this particular door opener is the slightly curved arm which doesn’t slip off round door handles. It may be slightly on the smaller for larger, commercial door handles. However, it works just fine for 90 percent of doors you’ll come across. And there are 3 keychains included in the pack which is really nice. The tool itself is a bit heavy for hanging off a keychain, but you’ll get used to it. There is a little keychain hole right next to the finger hole. Even if the rubber tip falls off, you can use the bare metal end to push in elevator buttons and other physical buttons. Even without the rubber tip, this tool will work on some soft touchscreens (the old resistive ones, not the newer ones like what you get on a smartphone).
Review / Premium : No Touch Door Opener
- Top-quality no-touch door opener;
- Can be used as a bottle opener and phone stand;
- Features stylus tip;
- Ideal for opening doors, pushing buttons, carrying grocery bags;
- Elegant and stylish design;
- Easy to use and practical;
- Lovely present for family and friends.
Made by a brand called “Metoff”, this is one of the more expensive no-touch door openers you can buy. And for a good reason- it comes with a retractable reel + carabiner. You can easily clip it to your belt loop and reel it out whenever you need to open a door, then all you have to do is gently let it go and it will automatically retract to its resting position on your belt. This way, you don’t contaminate the insides of your pocket. Plus, it makes the tool much more easily accessible since you don’t have to fish around in your pocket for it.
And on top of all this, it also has a rather interesting “foldable phone holder” built in. Unique to this brand of door opener, this is a plastic ring hinged onto the finger hole which flips up to support your phone or tablet. Just like a stand. And the bottom end of the finger hole has a little “notch” in the form of a raised metal section to prevent the base of your phone from slipping out while it’s resting on the plastic holder. Is this feature actually any good? Well, sometimes. Maybe you are sitting at a desk and wish to watch a movie on Netflix with your phone. Or maybe you’re doing a video call/ web seminar on Zoom using your tablet.
It’s nice to have extra stuff built into the tool, and the plastic holder doesn’t compromise the structural integrity of the actual opener because it’s built from durable metal alloy (looks like stainless steel). But, if anything on this tool is ever going to break, it’s probably the plastic phone holder part. There’s a bottle opener built into the top of the tool, and a nice “Metoff” logo embossed into the side of the tool which gives it a very classy appearance. All of this comes packed into a well-designed case similar to what you get with your iPhone. It includes the tool, retractable cord attachment, 3 silicone tips, and a mini carabiner. The tool appears to be made from cast metal instead of machined metal, which means it isn’t as high-end as the most expensive no-touch door openers that are made from machined brass.
Review : INTACT No Touch Door Opener
- Protects you from high traffic surfaces in public area such as Elevator button, Access Code, ATMs, Touchscreens, Doors and POS terminals.
- 5 in 1 Multi-Tool : EDC stylus, portable phone holder on desk and bottle opener function. This cell phone stand holder is compatible with most smartphones and tablets.
- Credit card sized with ergonomic design, 3.5 x 1.8 inches / 1.12oz. You can easily use and carry it by attaching to a badge reel or your key chain for quick accessibility at work, school and in retail establishments.
- Made of high-quality Zinc Alloy, light but very sturdy. It has No Sharp Edge and Rustproof. This strong material prevents breaking and bending.
- Includes : Premium Set of 2 keys, Shiny Gold & Shiny Silver with 4 spare silicone tips arrives in Gift Box.
On first look, this looks like a Metoff door opener minus the retractable cord and carabiner. Even the box designs are the same, which makes it look like they both roll off the same Chinese factory line. Except a different logo is being used here. It is cheaper since there’s no carabiner or retractable cord. So if you don’t want the extra attachments, this is the door opener for you.
You get a bottle opener on the top, and a phone holder built into the finger hole. The whole tool is made from zinc alloy, and you get 2 of them along with 4 spare rubber tips. Zinc alloy isn’t as durable as steel but it’s extremely lightweight, which is why you can easily attach one of these to your keychain and not even feel the added weight. And it’s not like the tool feels flimsy, it’s plenty good for opening heavy doors. Unlike those plastic no-touch door openers which are actually weak enough to break while opening certain doors.
Should You Get A Brass Door Opener?
Brass door openers don’t have fancy features like bottle openers, or phone holders. They are usually made from brass with at least 60% copper content. The one that started this entire trend, Milspin’s “Covid Key” is made from 260 brass alloy and machined instead of cast. Milspin is a veteran owned metal fabrication shop in Columbus, Ohio. They specialize in high quality CNC products. Keys based on their design have no door opener or silicone tip, so they aren’t as multifunctional as some of the other no-touch tools.
However, there are also less points of failure since it’s basically a “key” machined out of a plate of brass. And 260 brass alloy has over 68% of copper so you get the antimicrobial properties of copper. The Covid virus will die within 4 hours on one of these (still doesn’t mean you shouldn’t disinfect the tool daily). So it’s up to you to decide what you value more- additional functionality or antimicrobial properties. Brass keys only work on older resistive touchscreens. Not on phones, tablets, or any “hard” touchscreen that has a glass protective layer on top.
The Importance Of Sanitizing
You go to the store, and grab a can of beans. Do you know if it’s contaminated with coronavirus? There’s no way for you to see that with your naked eye, same with literally any surface you touch. Be it a door handle, bench, or railing. Especially in public places that see a lot of traffic, such as airports and train stations.
That’s why it’s so important to constantly sanitize your hands, irrespective of where you’ve been. These are things our parents and teachers would tell us when we were kids. Stuff like washing your hands before a meal, washing your hands after returning from the playground. But we never took it that seriously, did we? Not until this pandemic which reshaped our approach to personal hygiene.
Just wearing a mask isn’t helping anyone unless you also sanitize your hands before putting on the mask and after removing it. Otherwise, all you’re doing is taking the virus from one place and putting it somewhere else. Same with gloves. It’s important to understand how this virus transmits itself. Just touching a contaminated surface won’t make you sick. However, using those very hands to wipe your face or eat will cause problems. Covid-19 attacks your respiratory system, and the easiest way for it to get there is via a mucus membrane. Like through your eyes, nose, or mouth.
When someone sneezes or coughs, tiny droplets of moisture carrying the virus particles are released into the air. These droplets eventually settle down on surfaces like furniture, clothing, door handles, seats, etc. And when you touch these surfaces, you are now at risk of catching the disease. If you work at an office, it’s important to wear disposable gloves alongside a mask. You never know if the keyboard, display, or mouse is contaminated.
When you buy vegetables that aren’t in a sealed pack, don’t forget to wash them thoroughly. And when you do your laundry, don’t fling it around or shake it. Instead, gently place everything into a pile before washing. That way, you won’t send any viral particles into the air to be inhaled.
Hand Sanitizer Tip: Rub your hands until they are dry. Don’t cheat on hand sanitization, saving a few seconds won’t do you any good. If you just smear the sanitizer on your hand and let it air dry, you’re defeating the whole purpose of applying hand sanitizer. It has to be in every crevice of your hand, massaged thoroughly. Rub your hands together until the sanitizer dries off. And make sure you’re using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Don’t use one with methanol, it is toxic and can be absorbed through your skin. The FDA has a list of hand sanitizers that you should avoid, so check that out.
Using the data on WebMD, I made a handy chart you can refer to if you’re ever curious about how long Covid-19 lasts on various materials-
|Metal(excluding copper and brass)||Doorknob, jewelry, cutlery, railings, etc.||Up to 5 days|
|Wood||Furniture and decking||Up to 4 days|
|Plastic||Plates, bottles, jugs, containers, chairs, buttons, etc.||2 to 3 days|
|Cardboard||Shipping boxes, packaging||24 hours|
|Copper and Brass||Cookware, pennies, etc.||4 hours|
|Aluminum||Soda cans, water bottles, etc.||2 to 8 hours|
|Glass||Tabletop, measuring cup, windows, etc.||Up to 5 days|
|Ceramic||Mugs, pottery, dishes, etc.||Up to 5 days|
|Paper||Leaflets, magazines, notebooks, newspaper, etc.||Varies by strain from a few minutes up to 5 days|
|Food||Takeout||If the food is cooked properly, it shouldn’t contain any active coronavirus particles|
|Fabric||Clothes, upholstery, etc.||Insufficient research, but it shouldn’t last as long when compared to hard surfaces|
Tip: Always clean commonly used household surfaces such as keyboards, doorknobs, tables, countertops, phones, etc. with disinfectant liquid on a regular basis. And make sure to leave the cleaning liquid on the surface for at least 1 minute before wiping it off. If you want to learn more about which disinfectants kill coronavirus and how to apply them safely, visit this EPA page.
Masks Save You And The People Around You
While there are still dozens of naysayers and conspiracy theorists out there who refuse to wear masks, the topic of whether masks are actually effective or not has long been put to rest. Dozens of reliably scientific studies can be found online that detail how significant of a role masks play in reducing the spread of Covid. Because the main way this virus spreads is via the air, not physical contact. That’s why we practice social distancing, staying at least 2 meters apart. So the aerosol particles containing the virus will dissipate into the surroundings before covering that 2 meter gap.
Plus, masks don’t necessarily have to trap the tiny virus itself. All they have to do is capture the much larger droplets of moisture floating around which comprise of mucus matter, water, dust, etc. all condensed into a particle much larger than the actual virus itself. This is what the virus uses as a means of transport, it rarely floats around all by itself. And even simple cloth masks will capture these larger particles.
A multi-layered cloth mask is shown to have blocked 50-70% of fine droplets and particles from entering. These small droplets are in the magnitude of 10 microns or lower, also called aerosols. Infected people can release these droplets from their mouths while talking, or nose while sneezing. And a mask prevents most of it from getting out there.
Masks also block you from inhaling these infectious droplets. Depending on the thread count and material type, some cloth masks have been able to block 50% of fine particles under 1 micron. For reference, the Covid-19 virus itself has a size between 50nm to 140nm. Which is 0.05 microns to 0.14 microns. But as I explained earlier, the virus doesn’t just float around freely but as part of a larger “droplet” that can easily be blocked by a multilayer cloth mask with a high thread count.
You can buy a variety of masks, ranging from simple cloth masks all the way up to N95 respirators. Some N95 respirators even have valves which makes the process of breathing out easier. And unlike simple cloth or surgical masks, N95 masks use filters that capture extremely fine particles- much finer than any cloth can block. However, these filters with valves only work one way and don’t block air going out which is why they are banned in certain places. Cloth masks will filter both ways, both incoming and outgoing air. However they lack the protection level of a NIOSH certified N95 mask.
The N95 rating consists of 2 parts- N for “not resistant to oil” and 95 for “stopping 95% of most penetrating particles under test conditions”. There is also a N99 and N100 rating, the higher the rating the stronger the filtration (and the harder it becomes to breathe). Learn more about the NIOSH rating system works by reading this CDC article on respirators.
Note: Just because you bought a mask and put it on your face doesn’t mean you’re protected. You need to ensure it fits properly, forming a good seal around your skin. This isn’t going to happen if you’ve got thick facial hair. There is a metal section on the nose area of the mask which you must bend around the bridge of your nose to ensure a good fit. And the mask should be above your nose. If your mask just covers your lips, and your nose is wide open, all you’re doing is announcing to the world that you’re an idiot. Please don’t be THAT guy. And make sure the mask fits snugly, without drooping. Disinfect your hands before putting on the mask and after removing the mask. Don’t use the same mask for more than a day unless you wash it with detergent (it has to be a reusable mask for that).
Who shouldn’t use masks: Children under the age of 2, and people with respiratory problems. Some people can’t breathe with a mask, and might faint. Learn more about how masks can help you and which type of mask to wear in this CDC article. And if you find the time, check out my article that I did on masks at the start of this pandemic.
The Evolution of Covid-19 and Why It’s Still Such A Huge Threat
The coronavirus that we’re dealing with isn’t a new virus family, in fact it belongs to the same category of virus as the common flu. However, it is a variant that infects humans even though the older versions only infected animals. How did it get to this stage? Mutation. Viruses are essentially little instruction sets packed into envelopes. These instructions are written into genetic material called RNA, which performs the same function as DNA in our cells. But they are two different things.
Viruses replicate by hijacking a cell in your body and injecting their RNA, asking your cell to make copies of that. Most of the time an identical copy of the RNA is created. Occasionally, an error happens and the RNA code gets changed. So you end up with a mutation. Most mutations die off quickly, without being able to reproduce. However, some end up being even more infectious than the original virus.
Such is the case with Covid-19. Like any other coronavirus, it mutates at a rapid pace. And any vaccines that we put out now may or may not work on mutations that show up a few months later. At least in the U.S. it has been shown in studies that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are effective even against mutated strains of Covid-19, although with slightly lesser efficacy (not enough to be a real issue). As of now, there are three Covid-19 variants to worry about (Also known as VOC or variants of concern). They are-
- B.1.1.7 (first detected in UK)
- B.1.351 (first detected in South Africa)
- P.1 (first detected in travelers from Brazil during routine screening at a Japanese airport).
All 3 of these variants seem to be more infectious than the reference virus or original Covid-19 strain detected in Wuhan. Which means, they spread more quickly causing higher infection rates. Antibodies generated with current vaccines recognize and neutralize these virus strains, although we still don’t understand the full extent of their capabilities and interactions with various hosts/ antibodies. Research is still ongoing.
Either way, it doesn’t seem like Covid-19 will be dying out anytime soon. The virus is evolving, and this pandemic keeps on prolonging. Even with vaccines, people don’t feel as safe knowing that newer and more infectious strains of the virus are popping up. But hey, at least for now we know that our current vaccines are still very effective against these mutated strains. Only time will tell if that remains the case.
What The Future Looks Like
Coming out of 2020 and into 2021, I had bright hopes for the future. I was thinking “hey, vaccines are rolling out and lockdowns are gradually being removed. Maybe we are finally back to normal.” Oh, but I was only partially right. Some things are back to normal. You can actually go outside in most places, except for neighborhoods where lots of new cases are popping up. Those are under quarantine and strict surveillance from government officials.
While vaccines are here, the rate at which they’re being administered is nowhere as fast as we were led to believe. A lot of people are waiting to get vaccinated, and even the ones who have been vaccinated are instructed to wear masks. So the dark cloud of anxiety above our heads has merely moved a bit, it isn’t out of the picture just yet. There is a silver lining though. Maybe Covid-19 will live on for a long time, but eventually transform into just another mild illness like the common cold. One day you’ll catch Covid-19 and be inconvenienced, but at least you won’t be hospitalized or fear for your life. One can hope.
Whether the Covid-19 virus will become endemic is anyone’s guess. Could take a year, could take 10. If infection rates keep climbing among children and younger people, things won’t look so good. Maybe the virus will mutate in a way that counteracts the development of widespread immunity. You can’t deny that this entire pandemic has been one massive test. People have changed their entire way of life, and right now everybody is craving for a sense of security within all the paranoia. That security could be social interaction, or a guarantee of income.
Coronavirus has transformed the way we socialize. Will we be even more reliant on technology going into the future? How will it play out for our mental and physical health? Education has also seen a makeover, with most students learning via online classes and webinars. This invisible enemy might just have changed our world permanently in certain aspects. Still, the main goal right now is to weather this storm and ensure a quick recovery. That happens through unity, when everyone decides to come together and work for the benefit of each other.