Touchless keys have gained some attention during COVID-19 as people try to improve their hygiene practices and exposure to the virus, but they’re still very much a niche item and most people have yet to hear of them (much less used them). Here I’ll go over what touchless keys are and the main questions people have about them.
What are touchless keys, and what are they used for?
A touchless key looks something like this:
Touchless keys are not used to open locks. Rather, a touchless key is used for any of the following:
- Opening doors
- Pressing any button
- Flicking switches
- Carrying grocery bags
The point is to avoid having to touch shared surfaces with your hands, which are natural hotspots for bacteria and can lead you to getting diseases such as the common cold, meningitis and calicivirus.
Are touchless keys easy to use?
Touchless keys are super easy-to-use and convenient for pressing buttons and flicking switches, though it can feel a little unnatural using one to open doors. Here’s how you’d use them to open a door, courtesy of the Klean Key page on Amazon:
With most doors you’ll have no problem, especially those where the handle is vertical. But if the door handle is horizontal and short or slippery, or the door is heavy, it may feel a bit awkward at first. A touchless key also won’t help you turning a door knob. Using a touchless key to lift bags can also feel awkward if you’re carrying anything heavy, since with many of them you can only fit one finger (your index finger) through the hole and that one finger will be bearing all of the weight.
Will touchless keys protect you from COVID-19?
According to the relevant CDC page, it is far more common for COVID-19 to spread via respiratory droplets than through infected objects and surfaces, but they also say COVID-19 “may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials” and “cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19.”
Therefore, it’s fair to say that using a touchless key may have at least some effect on reducing your chances of contracting COVID-19. Regularly washing your hands, avoiding close contact with others and wearing a mask will probably have a far greater impact, though.
Are touchless keys worth using?
In my view, yes. A touchless key is easily portable (most are designed to fit on your keyring), inexpensive, and will allow you to avoid using your hands to touch almost any shared surface. Most of them are well under $10 and will last basically forever, which seems like good value for money to me. If there’s even a 1% chance that using one will prevent you from falling ill from touching bacteria-filled shared surfaces, then I’d say it’s worth it.
Where can you buy touchless keys?
As with almost everything on Earth these days, Amazon. 🙂 (see a list of the main touchless key brands on Amazon below)
Things to consider with touchless keys
- You will have to clean your touchless key with disinfectant regularly (I recommend once a day at the end of each day you use it)
- You have to be careful about touching the part of your key that’s been in contact with shared surfaces
- Even with a touchless key, you should still wash your hands just as much as you did without it
What materials are touchless keys usually made of?
I had a look at what the touchless keys from all the main manufacturers are made of. This is what’s listed for each one:
- GothicBride: Zinc alloy
- SOMAN: Brass
- KeySmart: “Metal”
- Vax: “Metal”
- EssentialKey: Brass and Zinc
- UYS: Zinc alloy
- NoTouch: Zinc alloy
- StatGrear: Brass
Brass and especially Zinc are antimicrobial (see a relevant recent study here), so they’re suitable materials for touchless keys.
What are the best touchless keys available now?
There are a number of different brands for touchless keys as listed above, and they’re all pretty similar, so it’s largely a personal preference which one you get. My personal favorite is the Essential Key because it’s stylish, light-weight, works on touchscreens, and comes in its own case.