It’s been several months since the coronavirus global pandemic began to reshape the whole world as we know it. Millions of lives have been lost and while there are recent developments for a cure, the best way we can protect ourselves and our loved ones is to practice all the safety measures that have been suggested by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition to social distancing, wearing face masks and shields, and frequently washing our hands, we also need to regularly clean and disinfect our homes. This way, we can reduce the probability of contracting this deadly virus and of spreading it to others.
Cleaning vs. Disinfecting
Before we proceed with the discussion on how you can effectively eliminate the coronavirus in your home, we need to first point out this important fact: that cleaning and disinfecting are two separate and different steps that are both equally essential. Cleaning is the first step, and this is the process of removing dirt and germs from surfaces. Take note that this step does not eliminate pathogens like the coronavirus. Instead, it removes or reduces the number of pathogens on the surface which helps to lower the risk of infection. Disinfecting, on the other hand, is a process that involves the use of chemicals to actually kill pathogens on the surface. To ensure that you effectively clean and disinfect your home, the CDC also recommends the use of EPA-registered disinfectants.
High Touch Surfaces Should Be a Priority
The first things you would need to clean and disinfect are high-touch surfaces, such as doorknobs, light switches, tabletops (dining table, work desk), chairs (seat, back, and arms), kitchen counters, bathroom counters, faucets, toilet seats and handles, remote controls, and game controllers. Whenever possible, sanitize these immediately after you touch or use these. Otherwise, clean and disinfect these at least once every day.
According to researchers from several different institutions, including the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UCLA, and Princeton University, who conducted a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the new coronavirus can survive for several hours in air particles and for days on surfaces. In aerosols, the coronavirus can live for up to three hours. The deadly virus can survive even longer on other types of surfaces. It can live on copper for up to four hours, on cardboard for up to 24 hours, and on plastic and stainless steel for up to three days. From these recent findings, it is apparent that cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces is crucial to ensure that our household is protected from this virus.
Safe and Effective Ways to Clean and Disinfect Your Home
Before you begin, always wear disposable gloves and eye protection for potential splash hazards. If you do not have disposable gloves at home, you can use reusable ones. Clean surfaces as you normally do, using soap and water, then apply a disinfecting agent afterwards. The CDC recommends that high-touch surfaces are cleaned and disinfected at least once a day.
Refer to the list of EPA-registered household disinfectants and use these to sanitize your home. Always read and follow the instructions on the label on how to safely and effectively apply these disinfecting agents and make sure that the room is well-ventilated. Never mix chemical products together, as doing so might produce toxic gases. Once you have finished disinfecting your home, keep these items away from children and pets.
If the recommended household disinfectants are not available in your local stores, another option would be to prepare an alcohol solution with at least 70% alcohol. You can also prepare a bleach solution, as long as your bleach has a sodium hypochlorite concentration of 5% to 6%. Check the expiration date and make sure that your bleach is not yet expired.
The bleach solution would require mixing 5 tablespoons or 1/3rd cup of bleach with a gallon of room temperature water, or 4 teaspoons of bleach with one quart of room temperature water. Prepare only the amount that you will be needing for the day, as this would only be effective for disinfection within 24 hours. Always check and follow the instructions on the label for proper application. After applying your bleach solution onto a surface, leave it for at least one minute. Never mix bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.
How to Clean and Disinfect Soft or Porous Surfaces at Home
When it comes to cleaning soft or porous surfaces at home, such as carpeted floor, rugs, and drapes, you will need to remove any visible dirt before applying cleansing agents. You can then wash these items, using the warmest water setting, whenever possible. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Allow them to dry completely.
How to Clean and Disinfect Clothes and Other Fabric Items
Wash clothes, towels, linens, and other items made of fabric as you would normally do, using your preferred detergents. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use the warmest water setting whenever possible. Dry these completely.
Don’t forget to protect yourself while you do the laundry by wearing disposable gloves, especially when handling a sick household member’s dirty laundry. If you don’t have disposable gloves, reusable ones will do but wash these immediately after you’re done handling the dirty laundry to prevent contamination. Carefully transfer dirty laundry from the hamper to the washing machine and avoid shaking these. Clean and disinfect the clothes hampers using appropriate cleaning and disinfecting agents. After doing so, take off your gloves immediately. If you’re using disposable gloves, throw these right away and wash your hands thoroughly. If you’re using reusable gloves, wash these right after use.
The task of cleaning and disinfecting your home at least once every day can be quite overwhelming, but considering the fact that we’re all vulnerable against a virus that’s extremely life threatening, doing these extra steps is something we need to do to keep ourselves and our loved ones alive and to hopefully help stop the rise of COVID-19 cases in our respective communities.