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How to Maintain a Clean, Healthy Home During COVID-19

A woman cleans and disinfects her home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus
asiandelight / Shutterstock

As of April 17, the novel coronavirus pandemic has reached over 2.1 million cases worldwide. In the U.S. alone, there are more than 677,000 reported cases. The epicenter of the U.S. outbreak is in the northeast, where coronavirus deaths in New York have topped 14,000.

In light of these numbers, it’s understandable that you might be experiencing feelings of fear and anxiety. You might be wondering, how can I keep the coronavirus from spreading to my home? Here’s the good news: There are many preventative measures you can take to keep your home and family safe.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently recommends practicing social distancing — staying home as much as possible and maintaining at least six feet from others when you do leave the house. Many states have even implemented shelter in place orders that limit any movement that isn’t considered “essential.”

Essential activities include everyday actions like grocery shopping, visiting a doctor, and some outdoor activity. Keep in mind that this list may vary from state to state. If you live in a state that’s under shelter in place orders, you should check the latest news to determine where you can and can’t go.

While you’re inside, it’s vital to learn how to disinfect coronavirus and protect your home from being a breeding ground for the disease. Use the following steps and tips for cleaning and learn how to properly disinfect your home.

10 steps to clean and disinfect your home during the coronavirus

Learning how to disinfect coronavirus throughout your home requires thorough and repeated cleaning. Use your normal cleaning procedures more often, and pay special attention to high-traffic areas. Try to stay inside your home as much as possible, but take proper care if you need to leave and return. The following steps will help you maintain a safe, clean home.

Step 1: Wash your hands thoroughly

Before you begin cleaning, wash your hands according to the CDC’s recommended guidelines. These guidelines include scrubbing your hands for 20 seconds using warm, soapy water. Be sure you’re washing your hands regularly right when you enter your house. Washing your hands is one of the best ways to prevent bringing the disease into your home.

An additional note: If you can get your hands on disposable gloves, try to wear them when you’re out in public. Just make sure to dispose of them right away and then wash your hands using the steps above.

Step 2: Use protective gear and clothing  

You should also use disposable gloves when you’re cleaning. But if you don’t have a supply of gloves that you can throw away, you can use reusable rubber gloves and wash them afterward. Try to use separate gloves for your kitchen, bathroom, and the rest of your home.

While you’re cleaning, you may also want to wear a mask. This will keep you from breathing in harsh chemicals, while also deterring you from touching your face. The CDC now recommends everyone wear masks in public, in an effort to limit the spread of germs.

Step 3: Clean each surface thoroughly

Cleaning is the first step toward removing dirt, germs, and viruses from your surfaces. You can use warm, soapy water to remove most pathogens. Use a sponge or cloth that you can wash out after each use, and be sure to clean hard-to-reach places like cracks and corners.

Step 4: Properly disinfect each surface

After you clean, disinfecting is the step that will kill off viruses that are still on the surface. To disinfect, use products recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency, like Clorox Wipes or Lysol Spray. Many of these products are currently out of stock, but you can make a CDC-approved solution with household bleach and water to disinfect your surfaces.

Step 5: Disinfect packages

We know you’re probably online shopping during the pandemic. If you receive packages in the mail, make sure to wipe them down with some type of disinfectant. Studies have found that coronavirus is known to live on cardboard for up to 24 hours.

Step 6: Sanitize groceries and store-bought products 

Whenever you return home from the store, disinfect your store-bought items. This also applies if you have your groceries delivered. If you can, quickly remove and dispose of the products’ original containers and use your own. Otherwise, give packaged products a quick wipe down with a disinfectant. Wash your fruits and vegetables with produce-safe soap and water. If you use your own bags, wash them after your trip to the store.

Step 7: Dispose of takeout containers and food-service items

If you receive takeout or delivery food, swap out the food containers with your dishes as soon as possible. Many restaurants have increased their sanitary procedures to stay open, but it’s best to avoid eating off of cardboard and plastic surfaces when possible. Coronavirus may be able to live up to two to three days on plastic surfaces.

Step 8: Launder clothing regularly 

Wash your clothes regularly, just like you normally would. For an added precaution, wash the clothes you wear outside or to the store immediately. Wash your clothes with warm to hot water as often as you can, and dry your clothes on high heat to help kill off pathogens. Regularly disinfect any surfaces your dirty clothes may come in contact with, including your hamper and coat rack.

If you don’t own a washing machine, try to limit your trips to a public laundromat. Maintain six feet from others while you’re there, and be sure to wear a cloth face mask and gloves.

Step 9: Isolate anyone who’s ill in your household

If anyone in your household becomes sick, try to isolate them to a single room. Even if they haven’t tested for coronavirus, it’s best to stay safe and quarantine them from the rest of your household. Make sure they’re supplied with food, cleaning supplies, and a trash can. If you handle anything they’ve touched, try to use gloves or wash your hands thoroughly before and after.

Step 10: Regularly sanitize high-traffic areas

Regularly sanitize high-traffic areas daily — especially whenever you leave the house and return home. We’ll cover some common surfaces and objects below.

Don’t forget to clean these surfaces and objects!

The objects we touch every day may be the easiest to forget about. You may not usually sanitize these items, but they’re high-traffic areas that could be the first places you touch when you come home.

Be sure to regularly clean and sanitize the following items:

  1. Doorknobs and handles: Your doorknob is the very first thing you touch to enter your home. After you’re back inside, use a disinfectant spray, solution, or a wipe to cover the entire knob. Don’t forget about the knobs for each room throughout your house, as well as handles around your kitchen. Also, think about the objects you touch every day, such as your fridge and microwave.
  2. Cell phone: Your phone could be the number one culprit for transmitting disease. We’re constantly touching our phones and putting them down on surfaces throughout the day before bringing them up to our faces. Sanitize your phone at least once a day and whenever you re-enter your home.
  3. Computer: You may not bring your laptop outside with you, but chances are you’re using it every day. If your hands aren’t completely clean, you could be spreading germs and pathogens across the keyboard and screen.
  4. Light switches: We use light switches every day, but hardly think about them when it comes to cleaning. Give your switches and lamps a wipe down at least once a day to prevent spreading the virus throughout your home.
  5. Remotes: Make sure to sanitize your TV remote, stereo remote, and others at least once a day.
  6. Bags and accessories: While you’re at the store or in a public place, your bag, wallet, and other accessories might be in contact with contaminated surfaces. While you’re shopping, you may need to hand someone your credit card or ID. Be sure to wipe these items off daily and whenever you return home.
  7. Your keys: You take your keys with you everywhere. Make sure to sanitize remotes to your car and house keys whenever you walk back into the house from outside.
  8. Smart locks and panels: Do you have a smart security system or a smart lock in your home? If you do, chances are you touch it multiple times a day. Make sure to disinfect these gadgets daily!

Use these EPA-approved products to disinfect coronavirus

To be sure you’re successfully killing off the coronavirus, be sure to use EPA tested and approved products.

The EPA has put together a helpful list of disinfectant products. You can use the list to search for common household products like Clorox bleach, Lysol spray, and more. The list will tell you the types of surfaces you can disinfect with each product. It also shows the amount of time the product needs to kill off the virus.

Some of the products that are EPA-approved to kill off the coronavirus. These include:

It might be discouraging to know that many of these products are currently out of stock. That said, find out how you can make your own disinfectant below.

What if the store is out of disinfectant?

There have been shortages in hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes, and cleaning sprays throughout the country. Many residents are stocking up to protect themselves. If you aren’t having luck in finding disinfectant, you can create a disinfectant bleach solution by following the CDC’s recommendations. The recipe only requires about five tablespoons of bleach per gallon of water, so it’s heavily diluted. You can use this solution the same as you would with any store-bought disinfectant on your hard surfaces.

The bottom line

As the coronavirus pandemic continues throughout the world, the best way to prevent spreading the virus is to stay inside. Everyone will still need to leave their home occasionally for exercise, groceries, and more. Whether you’re leaving your house or not, cleaning is a proven defense against the virus. For the best protection, follow the CDC’s recommended guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting.

Frequently asked questions

How long does the coronavirus last on surfaces?

According to a recent study, the novel coronavirus may live up to four hours on copper surfaces, two to three days on plastic and stainless steel, and up to 24 hours on cardboard.

How do you disinfect surfaces for the coronavirus disease?

You can kill off the coronavirus on a variety of surfaces using EPA-registered disinfectants. Many household items like Clorox Bleach and Lysol All-Purpose Spray can kill off the virus.

Should I cancel my cleaning service during COVID-19?

Yes, the CDC currently recommends limited contact with people outside your home. To limit the number of people coming in and out, cancel your cleaning service for the time being. In the meantime, develop your own regimen for cleaning and disinfecting your home.

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