Staying at home is one of the best ways for us to contribute to the overall effort to contain the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. However, many of us cannot help but find it hard to avoid going out, either to buy needed groceries, to engage in limited outdoor workouts or to simply get some sunlight.
The result? You might unwittingly bring those virus-carrying germs with you, even with your efforts to maintain a 6-foot distance from others. While it is good to wash your hands often with soap and water, it is also time to get rid and kill all of those germs that might be present in your own household.
To start, here are some tips on cleaning and disinfecting your home amid the coronavirus crisis:
Distinguish Cleaning From Disinfecting
It is important to know that cleaning is different from disinfecting. According to the American Cleaning Institute, cleaning removes dirt, food and other impurities that contain germs, while disinfecting kills those germs.
Some of the cleaning products industry group’s “Coronavirus and Cleaning” recommendations include:
- Cleaning with soap and water before disinfecting to remove excess dirt and grime
- Letting surfaces air dry after disinfecting
- Rinsing with water after air drying any surface that come in contact with food
What To Disinfect And How Often
A recent study that was published in the New England Journal for Medicine found that the virus that causes COVID-19 could last for hours or days on some common surfaces. The researchers said that the virus is detectable for up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic and stainless steel, and is also detectable for up to three hours in aerosols.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends cleaning and disinfecting “frequently touched surfaces” daily, including “tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks,” in addition to remote controls, hard-backed chairs and toiletries and makeup.
Take special care of your cellphones. They are reportedly “one of the dirtiest things we encounter daily,” so it is important to use disinfecting wipes or a rubbing alcohol solution on yours every day. Despite some confusion over their name, Clorox wipes do not contain bleach and are safe to use on your phones and to disinfect phone screens.
Sweeping or light-mopping the kitchen floor, washing the dishes and sanitizing kitchen sponges (in the microwave or in the dishwasher) are other daily tasks that can help cut down the spread of virus-causing germs.
All sinks, mirrors, toilets and waste bins should be cleaned and disinfected weekly, and all hard-surface floors mopped every two weeks.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the virus lives longer on hard surfaces than on soft and more porous ones such as fabric.
When handling laundry, the CDC advises washing items using the warmest appropriate water setting and drying them completely. It also said to avoid shaking laundry to reduce the risk of the virus dispersing into the air.
The CDC also said to remove visible contamination on soft surfaces such as carpets, rugs and drapes if present, and clean with appropriate cleaners indicated for use on those surfaces.
Products To Use For Disinfection
The CDC said that most common EPA-registered disinfectants, diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70 percent alcohol should be effective in disinfecting households. You should follow label instructions and make sure to have good ventilation while using these products.
The American Chemistry Council has an updated list of commercially available and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
-approved products that can be used against the novel coronavirus. The list contains recognizable brands such as Lysol and Clorox, along with non-familiar brands that can be used if the first two are not available.
A diluted bleach solution can also be mixed as a disinfectant; more accurately, the CDC recommends four teaspoons of bleach per quart of water, or one-third of a cup of bleach per gallon of water. It also warns to mix and use in a ventilated space and not combine bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.
Wear gloves while you are cleaning. You can use reusable gloves to clean and disinfect since disposable ones are in short supply. However, the CDC said that they “should be dedicated for cleaning and disinfection of surfaces for COVID-19 and should not be used for other purposes.”
Though the U.S. Postal Service said there is currently evidence that COVID-19 can be spread via mail, it is best to either leave cardboard-box deliveries overnight or wipe them using disinfecting wipes as a precaution.