One interior design detail that’s almost certain to change post-COVID-19 is the ability to open doors and perform other tasks hands-free. It’s likely that we’ll see far more automatic doors, even at home, and a boost in demand for smart technologies that reduce the need to interact with buttons and public touchscreen surfaces.
But as germaphobes are well aware, plenty of low-tech tools to help you avoid touching potentially infectious public surfaces already exist. They’re almost always made of copper or one of its alloys, like brass or bronze, which possess antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties. When microbes land on a copper surface, the metal’s ions prevent cell respiration, punching holes in the cell membrane or disrupting the viral coat to destroy the DNA and RNA inside.
It would be cool to see more copper doorknobs, countertops, and seating in hospitals, airports, train stations, gyms, and other places known for harboring microbes, but in the meantime, you can pick up a small, affordable keychain tool that will let you open door handles, punch keypads, sign checkout screens, and press elevator buttons without directly using your hands.
One thing to note: there are many, many products like these available on Amazon, Wish, Alibaba, and other websites, but you should always make sure you’re getting the real (copper alloy) deal, and not a spray-painted imitation.
The ergonomic design of the CleanKey makes it easy to press buttons, pull levers, and open many public doors (at least, those with handles rather than knobs) without actually touching potentially contaminated surfaces yourself. It hooks onto your keys, and you can get it with a retractible carabiner to ensure you’ll never lose it.
Designed by a New York City paramedic, the Hygiene Hand is almost identical to the CleanKey, but it’s always nice to have options. Recently launched on Kickstarter, this antimicrobial door opener will definitely help reduce the amount of hand washing and disinfecting you have to do while you’re out running errands or performing other essential jobs. As its makers point out, coronavirus can only survive on copper and brass for a couple hours, compared to several days on plastic or stainless steel.
If you prefer something that looks more like an ornamental keychain, the Dino-Phobe pocket tool is a fun option. Made in the USA, it’s brass and significantly larger and thicker than other tools, and it performs all of the same functions. Best of all, you can also use it as a bottle opener.
Want a full range of designs to choose from? The PullPro and PushPro come in dozens of shapes, though some appear to be more functional than others. They’re made of solid copper, manufactured in Scottsdale, Arizona, and have the lowest cost of the bunch at just $14.99.
Individual crafters and small businesses are selling their own versions of the tool on Etsy, too. This 100-percent copper heart-shaped door opener keychain is handcrafted and comes on a silver split ring. The creator doesn’t specify whether it would work on touch screens, but it can be used to open doors, carry bags, and press keypad buttons.
Offered by a New York-based company that usually makes custom laser-cut architectural signage, this solid quarter-inch brass skeleton key has a fun antique style that’ll look great dangling from your key ring.