Firstly, I don't know if this is the best site to ask this question. Please guide if its not.

Now my question:

If we take out a tissue out of its box, a new tissue comes out partially so we can easily take it next time. Now that tissue can easily collect germs from sneezes and coughing of other people around us.

Can that cause problems/infections? Why doesn't tissue box have a better design?

  • $\begingroup$ I think the current design of tissue boxes is more about ease of use than cleanliness. Though you do bring up a good point, considering that many human pathogens can persist on surfaces $\endgroup$
    – acvill
    Commented Sep 12, 2019 at 14:20

1 Answer 1


This definitely possible. Due to the microscopic scale of bacteria and viruses, even very light forces(like those from pulling a tissue out of the box) will lead to those bacteria and/or viruses being tossed to the rest of the box.

However, a large portion of the infectious viruses in humans will struggle to survive on the dry, low nutrient substrate of the tissues and box for extended periods of time(especially given high absorbance), albeit the above comment show many that can(depending on the surface).

To answer why there is no better design, I think the simplest explanation is monetary incentive. There is little incentive to create something better both due to R&D cost and inevitable increase in product price, as well as a steep consumer education cost to let customers know, why this is better. However, if you have a good solution in mind that does not raise product cost beyond a few cents per unit, you should a decent shot(if you patent) to license it to the big players.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Maybe it's not better in the long run? Let's say you have a hermetically sealed tissue dispenser under a UV lamp. How will that help when you grab the door knob or touch your clothes that came into contact with who knows what or walk down wind of a group of people breathing? It will probably be very difficult to prove it reduces infection in everyday life. $\endgroup$
    – user40950
    Commented Sep 13, 2019 at 17:18
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    $\begingroup$ ^ Yes this is correct. The research costs associated with an alteration of this nature will be extremely prohibitive. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 13, 2019 at 19:58

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