GREENSBORO, N.C-- We know germs all too well this cold and flu season. All it takes is touching the wrong thing to set off a chain reaction that ends with you getting sick.

The question is, how long do germs last on those things?

To verify we are checking in with the Mayo Clinic and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The common cold, the flu, and norovirus are all viruses easily spread by touching.

Germs don't move themselves. They depend on you and the environment.

Let's say your sick coworker coughed and touched a door or shook your hand. How long are those germs alive?

I wish there was an easy answer.

But it depends on the type of bacteria or virus, what kind of surface they're on and the surrounding environment.

The CDC says the flu virus can survive as droplets in the air for several hours, on hard surfaces up to 24 hours, and on the skin for just 15 minutes.

That's is good news, just be sure to avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

Now onto colds.

Like the flu, the Mayo Clinic says colds last on skin for a short time. The virus can last on hard surfaces for about 7 days, but its ability to cause infection drops drastically over time.

Both the cold and flu viruses thrive better in cold air.

and finally norovirus.

Both the CDC and Mayo Clinic say norovirus can last for days or weeks on hard surfaces and up to 12 days on soft surfaces like clothing, sheets, and carpet.

It's unclear how long it lasts on skin, but we do know that's the main way it's spread