With the present coronavirus global pandemic, we all need to practice all the safety measures suggested by the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Aside from social distancing, the use of face masks and shield, and frequent washing of hands, we also need to clean and disinfect our homes regularly. This is another way that you can protect yourself and your loved ones from the coronavirus and prevent spreading it to others.
Cleaning is Not the Same as Disinfecting
It is important that you understand that these two tasks are different, so you can effectively protect your home from the coronavirus. Both cleaning and disinfecting are crucial steps in getting rid of the deadly virus and reducing the probability of contracting COVID-19. The first step is cleaning, which is primarily about removing dirt and germs from surfaces. This step does not kill germs, it simply removes or reduces the number of germs on the surface, thus lowering the risk of infection. On the other hand, disinfecting, involves the use of chemicals to actually kill pathogens on the surface, including the deadly coronavirus. For you to effectively clean and disinfect your home, the CDC also recommends the use of EPA-registered disinfectants.
Always Start with High Touch Surfaces
To help prevent contamination, you will need to clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces first. These would include parts of the house that are most often touched, 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. Ideally, these must be sanitized after every time you touch or use these, if possible. If not, then regular cleaning and disinfecting at least once every day.
In a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers from several different institutions, including the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UCLA, and Princeton University, found that the new coronavirus can survive for several hours in air particles and for days on surfaces. Specifically, the coronavirus can survive in aerosols for up to three hours. Aerosols are solid or liquid particles that are suspended in the air, such as fog, dust, and gas commonly used in medical procedures like ventilation and nebulizers. Furthermore, the researchers discovered that this deadly virus can survive even longer on other types of surfaces. On copper, the coronavirus can live for up to four hours, on cardboard for up to 24 hours, and on plastic and stainless steel for up to three days. Based on these recent findings, it is apparent that cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces is necessary to ensure that our household is protected from this virus.
How to Safely and Effectively Clean and Disinfect Your Home
In case the recommended household disinfectants are not available, an alcohol solution with at least 70% alcohol or a bleach solution may be used instead. If you will be preparing a bleach solution, check the label first. Your bleach should have a sodium hypochlorite concentration of 5% to 6%. You will also need to check the expiration date and make sure that your bleach is not yet expired.
To prepare the bleach solution, mix 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 just the amount you need for the day, as this bleach solution is effective for disinfection for only 24 hours. Be sure to check and follow the instructions on the label for proper application. When applying onto a surface, leave the bleach solution for at least one minute. Never mix bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.
How to Clean and Disinfect Soft (Porous) Surfaces at Home
When cleaning soft (porous) surfaces at home, such as carpeted floor, rugs, and drapes, start by removing any visible dirt then use appropriate cleaners. Next, wash these items following the manufacturer’s instructions. Use the warmest water setting, whenever possible, for these items then allow them to dry completely.
How to Clean and Disinfect Clothes and Other Items Made of Fabric
You can wash your clothes, towels, and linens using detergents that you normally use. Always wash these following the manufacturer’s instructions and use the warmest water setting whenever possible. Dry these completely.
To protect yourself as you do the laundry, always wear disposable gloves, especially when handling a sick household member’s dirty laundry. It is not necessary for you to separate these from the rest of the laundry, though. Avoid shaking dirty laundry as you transfer these from the hamper to the washing machine to reduce the possibility of dispersing virus into the air. Clean and disinfect clothes hampers with the appropriate cleaning and disinfecting agents as well. After doing so, take off your disposable gloves, throw them immediately, and wash your hands thoroughly.
While the task of cleaning and disinfecting your home at least once every day may seem to be very tedious, keep in mind that we’re fighting against something we cannot see and this coronavirus is extremely deadly. So, let us do everything we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones.