Is It Safe to Use Redbox During the Pandemic? What to Know About Disinfecting Your Movie Rentals

The popular rental service is still available during the pandemic, as Redbox encourages people to wash their hands and clean discs with soap and water

Photo: George Frey/Getty

At-home entertainment is an essential for many who are stuck on their couches due to the pandemic. And for those who prefer renting physical copies of movies in the form of DVDs and Blu-rays, Redbox is still making its nearly 40,000 kiosks across the country available to customers. During the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the company is taking special precautions to try to ensure the safety of its customers.

“Knowing movie nights are a cherished activity, we’re doing all we can to support our customers, employees and the communities we serve during this challenging time,” Kate Brennan, director of marketing communications for Redbox, tells PEOPLE.

In response to the public health crisis, the company says it has educated its field staff, who periodically maintain and stock the red kiosks, on proper cleaning protocols per CDC guidelines. The homepage of their touchscreens also provide warnings to users about maintaining social distancing when waiting in line and properly washing one’s hands afterward.

While washing your hands after using the machine is essential, wearing gloves that can be disposed of or washed afterwards is also a good precaution.

Redbox also outlined ways to disinfect the discs and cases before bringing them home. According to the company, a simple soap-and-water mixture is safe to use along with a soft cloth — not paper towels.

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CDC-recommended rubbing alcohol and alcohol-based wipes can be used too, and Redbox suggests wiping from the center outward to avoid scratching the discs. Customers should not use abrasives, solvents or highly acidic cleansers.

As recent studies on COVID-19’s lifespan on various surfaces have shown, the contagious virus can last on plastic, in some cases, for up to three days.

“The movies in our kiosks are like other items on a retailer’s shelf,” says Brennan. “As with any public surface we come in contact with, it’s important to wash or sanitize our hands after any interaction and maintain a safe, six-foot distance between ourselves and others.”

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Since it was founded in 2002, Redbox — which has locations at grocery stores, gas stations and other high-traffic areas — has rented more than 6 billion discs to fans.

The company touts its self-guided usage as a plus during the pandemic, making the need to directly interact with human personnel unnecessary when checking out. Redbox will also utilize “contactless” payment technology at 90 percent of its locations within the next week, says Brennan, so that people can pay with a swift tap instead of swiping or inserting a credit card.

For those, however, who’d rather play it safe and avoid public spaces when possible, Redbox also offers its own digital platform for on-demand rentals and purchases, making the latest entertainment a click away while self-isolating.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.

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