The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has us all taking a closer look at what we touch and how we clean.
Protecting yourself and your family from COVID-19 requires thorough hand-washing and hygiene practices in combination with social distancing and adhering to the stay-at-home mandate.
Thorough hygiene practices also extends to your home.
What does cleaning, disinfecting mean?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19. The CDC defines cleaning and disinfecting as the following:
- Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. It does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
- Disinfecting refers to using chemicals, for example, EPA-registered disinfectants, to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.
When thinking about what should be kept clean, think about what is frequently touched in your home.
The CDC recommends frequent cleaning of tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks and electronics – keyboards, touch screens, remotes, cellphones.
Further, use household cleaners that are appropriate for the surface you’re cleaning. Those cleaning materials should be wipes or sprays containing at least 70% alcohol.
How to clean and disinfect
When cleaning hard, non-porous surfaces, you should wear disposable gloves, if available. If you’re using reusable gloves, they should be ones you use only for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces for COVID-19.
The CDC further recommends:
- If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
- For disinfection, use common EPA-registered household disinfectants to be effective.
- Additionally, diluted household bleach solutions (at least 1000ppm sodium hypochlorite) can be used if appropriate for the surface.
- Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application, ensuring a contact time of at least 1 minute.
- Allow proper ventilation during and after application.
- Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.
How to prepare a bleach solution
Unexpired household bleach is effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted. To prepare a bleaching solution:
- Mix 5 tablespoons (1/3 of a cup) of bleach per 1 gallon of water.
- If you don’t need a full gallon, use 4 teaspoons of bleach per 1 quart of water.