n a few short months, our entire reality shifted and life will probably never be the same. For many people, it’s still difficult to adjust to the new way we handle hygiene and our connection to everything that surrounds us. For instance, common tasks like going to the grocery store or walking your dog look completely different now – you need to wash and disinfect your reusable bags after each trip, you have to wear a restrictive mask when you go out and you can’t sit on a bench at the park as you used to.
All these mundane tasks seem harmless, but they can bring germs into your home, regardless of the social distance you maintain. Moreover, while regular and thorough hand washing is a good way to protect your health, you need to pay attention to the common surfaces around you as well, because they can also harbor the dangerous bacteria responsible for COVID-19. To help you with that, we’ve prepared some useful information on what to clean and disinfect, how often, and which products are effective in the fight against the virus.
Surface Contamination Statistics
Knowing the durability of the new coronavirus is an important step towards protecting your home and family. At first, specialists claimed that the virus couldn’t survive for longer than a few minutes without a human body to sustain it. However, a recent study published in the medRxiv online medical archive raises many concerns regarding that topic.
The study found out that COVID-19 could survive and remain active in the air for up to 3 hours. Cardboard surfaces, like delivery boxes, can remain contaminated for up to 24 hours. Items like plastic and stainless steel can carry the virus for up to 3 days. And the news is even worse for glass, wooden or metal surfaces, specialists claim that the virus can stay active for up to 5 whole days!
Fortunately, microbiologists claim that the research is based on controlled lab tests, and the virus can act differently in a real-life environment. Many factors can influence the stability of the virus, like humidity, temperature, and a lot more.
Difference Between Cleaning and Disinfecting
Since the coronavirus is very easily transmissible through relatively casual contact, maintaining impeccable personal hygiene is pivotal these days. The good news is that coronaviruses are enveloped and detergents and disinfectants can easily break their light shell. Proper handwashing, disinfecting your clothes after wearing them in public and the regular cleaning of your home can help in the protection against it.
To secure your success, it’s fundamental to make a difference between cleaning and disinfecting. Cleaning means to remove organic matter from your surfaces, such as dirt, dust, or other organic matter that causes germs to grow and contaminate. The process of disinfection means to use chemicals to kill all the germs on your surfaces. Both these processes are equally important and needed right now because you cannot disinfect a surface properly if it’s still dirty.
Common Areas to Clean in Your Home
According to cleaning specialists, bathrooms and kitchens are the areas, which contain the biggest amount of germs. They advise to focus the disinfecting on the following surfaces: cupboard and drawer handles and fronts, the handles and fronts of all appliances like the oven, refrigerator, and dishwasher, as well as any taps and sinks. Other areas, which are often touched and would benefit from a daily clean are:
- Computer keyboards and mice
- Cell phones
- Remote controls
- Light switches
- Doors and doorknobs
- Staircase railings
- Game controllers
- Window handles
It’s recommended to group these areas in your cleaning plan, and wipe them down with a disinfectant at least once a day, and even more often, in case you go outside a lot or have people over. Even if it’s someone you trust, you never know what they touched before they arrived at your doorstep. For surfaces with many items on them, like kitchen tables or countertops, you need to remove and wipe all the items on them, then clean the surface itself.
How to Handle Laundry
Things seem to be a little brighter when it comes to laundry and cleaning other soft surfaces around the house. Studies show that viruses live longer on hard surfaces and don’t thrive in soft and porous ones.
The CDC’s guidelines for taking care of laundry is to use the warmest possible water temperature and to dry each item completely before storing it. They also suggest avoiding unnecessary shaking of the laundry, to avoid the risk of dispersing the virus through the air. Using a disposable bag liner in the clothes hamper can help protect the hamper itself from contamination.
For other soft surfaces, such as curtains, upholstery and carpets, specialists advise to remove any visible dirt timely and spot clean them with appropriate detergents, suitable for the fabric.
Cleaning Products to Use Against COVID-19
There are many choices when it comes to the products we can use to disinfect our homes. EPA has released a full list of approved detergents and disinfectants, which are proven to kill all kinds of germs. According to the CDC, diluted bleach solutions and solutions with at least 70% of isopropyl alcohol are also highly effective in battling the virus.
Since finding the proper detergents and disinfectants can prove difficult in the terms of a pandemic, using bleach is a very handy and accessible alternative. Cleaning specialists advise that 5 tablespoons of bleach per gallon of water are more than enough.
However, bleach can be very harsh on some surfaces, so specialists recommend ensuring the bleach solution is suitable for the particular surface by spot testing. In addition, it’s important to wear disposable gloves and use clean microfibre cloths each time you clean. Spray the solution on the cloth and then apply it to the surface. Proper ventilation is also necessary because bleach and most strong disinfectants can produce harmful fumes. Another essential point to remember is to avoid mixing bleach with ammonia or any other detergent because the chemical reaction can be deadly.
In case you have doubts that your home has been contaminated, you can also take advantage of the antiviral cleaning services offered by some cleaning companies. A local health department usually licenses specialists who offer these services and they use hospital-grade detergents, which can guarantee full disinfection. The main ingredient used in these detergents is Benzalkonium Chloride, which kills all known viruses and germs, including the Coronavirus.