How Long Do Fingerprints Last? [Answered]

Do you know how long fingerprints last? It can last enough to arrest the criminals. In fact, every human on earth has a different fingerprint, and it can not match with others. This is another fact that there are only 1-in-64 billion chances that one person’s prints match with another.

In general, fingerprints can last for a very long time unless someone tries to destroy them. However, there are other factors as well that defines the lifespan of a fingerprint like surface, environmental conditions, and other things.

Fingerprints onHow long do last
Fingerprints on Paper40+ Years
Fingerprints on Metal (door handles, gun, car)2.5+ Years
Fingerprints on Plastic (bags, steering wheel)7+ Years
Fingerprints on a Surface (window, outdoors, clothes)10+ Years

What are Fingerprints?

fingerprints on a white paper

Fingerprints are distinctive friction ridges patterns printed on our fingertips. The ridges pattern is different for each human, and it does not match with any other human. The development of fingerprints starts right after the development of the fingers of a baby in the womb of the mother. Since the fingerprints do not match with any other person yet it has four kinds, simple loop, double loop, arch, and whorl.

Here is a bit more about what are fingerprints.

  • Fingerprints are made of sweat and grease (sebaceous gland secretion)
  • It takes up to 24 hours after a person dies for their fingerprints to become useless
  • Fingerprints can’t be destroyed easily
  • There are over 100,000 sweat pores in each fingerprint.
  • After the skin is shed from a finger, it takes about two weeks for all of the pores to close up
  • The more dirt and oil build up in the fingerprint, the harder it becomes to get a good print. When someone dies, the skin temperature drops, and the pores close up.

How do experts determine whether fingerprints are new or old?

An expert can use a number of different methods to determine the age of the latent print. However, there is no scientific way to know the exact age of any fingerprint. Some experts say that if a latent print goes dark then it is probably a sign of an old fingerprint and in this way, you can say it is an old latent print.

However, there are other ways too that will indicate the age of these latent prints. Now there is a new technique that is called “minutiae” to determine the age of a fingerprint. There is another new technique that can distinguish between new and old latent prints that are introduced by Netherlands Forensic Institute.

Why do we use fingerprints in criminal investigations?

  • To solve the crime, detect criminals or suspects quickly.
  • A fingerprint is an impression left by the friction ridges of a finger.
  • A fingerprint is the most widely used proof in a criminal investigation.
  • Only 10% of people have unique fingerprints different from everyone else’s fingerprints.
  • There are many ways to leave your fingerprint behind, such as:
  • Fingerprint at a crime scene – the criminal might leave fingerprints behind.
  • Fingerprints on an object – this is because we touch things with our hands all the time.

Lifespan at the crime scene

The temperature in the area where the crime took place can affect how long fingerprints last at a crime scene. The warmer it is, the longer they will be detectable. There are many factors when determining the long-lasting of fingerprints, including whether or not there was an attempt to clean up the crime scene.

After an object bearing a fingerprint has been touched, the print becomes smudged over time. The hotter it is outside, the faster it will happen.

No two fingerprints are exactly alike, but they do fade over time. It’s impossible to determine exactly how long fingerprints last at a crime scene since so many different factors play into it.

There could be many other sets of prints at the crime scene, including that of police officers and investigators. So it is important to collect any print evidence as quickly as possible.

How long stay in your clothes?

The average time to last fingerprints on cloth is 2 weeks, so collecting any print evidence as quickly as possible is important.

Fingerprints on clothes will last longer than fingerprints at a crime scene because there aren’t many factors other than the oils from skin and clothing interacting, which happen relatively slowly. The hotter it is outside, the faster this process occurs.

How long stay on a gun?

Fingerprints may last long and last on a gun for up to 2 months.

However, many factors will determine prints on a gun, such as a temperature at which it was stored, if gloves were used, and whether or not there was an attempt to clean up the gun.

How long stay on metal?

Fingerprints can last on metal for up to several hours.

The factors determining the length of time fingerprints last on metal are very similar to those that affect prints on other surfaces.

How to remove fingerprints properly?

The best way to remove fingerprints is with a commercial degreaser.

As far as removing them yourself, you need something to break down the fingerprint oil’s fatty acids. The most commonly used method is a mix of equal parts acetone and turpentine.

How long do fingerprints last after you die?

The answer is “very long.” It means that even if you die, your fingerprints stay there, and they get vanish after a very long time. So you need to know how long prints survive on a corpse? The answer is not accurate and 100% sure, but some experts are saying that it can last for many months.

Do you remember the case of Haans Galassi? a guy who lost his four fingers during a wakeboarding accident, and after three months, police found his one finger in the belly of trout fish. So they traced the fingerprints, and they matched with Haans Galassi, and so they returned it to him.

Does alcohol help to wipe fingerprints?

Alcohol does not affect fingerprints. Alcohol can be used to wipe away any residual ink that might get on your hands when lifting prints, but it isn’t necessary to use alcohol for this purpose.

Can I burn my fingerprints?

Absolutely NOT! This is a myth and will ruin your prints for good. The only way to destroy fingerprints is with extreme heat or chemicals; this applies to any type of print, not just yours.


So you can now tell anyone how long fingerprints last. This is a truth that a fingerprint is a very important thing in our body, and it is also useful to find criminals. Also, they have a longer lifespan nature, and they can stay on a surface for decades even.



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