How to Clean and Disinfect Your Stuff and Stay Safer
To Keep Your Home Virus-Free
Clean and Disinfect
The first thing you’ll want to know is that cleaning and disinfecting are two very different things. The CDC recommends we all do a bit of both, even if nobody in your home is sick.
- Cleaning is about removing contaminants from a surface.
- Disinfecting is about killing pathogens.
- Do both daily if anything or anyone has entered or exited your home.
Transmission from person-to-person is a much greater risk than transmission via surfaces. The CDC recommends we clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in our homes at least once daily just to be safe. Assuming we have had contact with the outside world in some way, either a person leaving and returning or goods coming in.
Target Your Home’s High-Touch Surfaces
Researchers have found that the novel coronavirus is capable of living on surfaces, such as cardboard for 24 hours, and up to two or three days on plastic and stainless steel. So, just to be safe disinfecting high-touch surfaces is a step we should all take.
High-Touch Surfaces to Clean and Disinfect Daily:
- Table surfaces
- Hard dining chairs (seat, back and arms)
- Kitchen counters
- Bathroom counters
- Faucets, faucet knobs
- Toilets, (seat and handle)
- Light switches
- TV remote controls
- Game controllers
Everyone’s home is a little different, so just think about the surfaces you interact with most. For me, that includes the above, plus desk surfaces and mousepads (we’ll get to gadgets in a bit). Now that you know what you’re cleaning, here’s how you should do it.
First Clean, Then Disinfect:
- First, clean the surfaces, removing any contaminants, dust, or debris. You can do this by wiping them with soapy water (or a cleaning spray) and a hand towel.
- Then apply a surface-appropriate disinfectant. The quickest and easiest way to do this is with disinfecting wipes or disinfectant spray.
That’s it. Just adding these to your daily routine can help lower the risk of infection for you and anyone else in your household.
The EPA has a full list of disinfectants that will kill the novel coronavirus, but here are a few essentials to keep an eye out for. You can find most of these disinfectants online at Amazon or Walmart if your local grocery store is out of stock. Most disinfectants should have a label that lists the viruses they’re effective against, and that’s what you’ll want to look out for more than any particularly active ingredient.
“If [a disinfectant product] has an indication for killing influenza, RSB, SARS virus, or other coronaviruses, then it should work against this one also,” Townes said.
- Disinfecting wipes (Clorox, Lysol, or store brand will do)
- Disinfectant spray (Purell, Clorox, Lysol, all make sprays that will work)
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Hydrogen peroxide
If You Cannot Find Store-Bought Disinfectants
Store shelves are bare in a lot of places, especially in the cleaning section, but you still have plenty of options. Thankfully, the CDC has a recommended recipe for a homemade cleaning solution using household bleach.
How to Make Homemade Bleach Disinfectant Spray:
- 4 teaspoons household bleach
- 1 quart water
- Pour both into one-quart spray bottle, shake vigorously
- Spray on surface to disinfect, let sit for 10 minutes, wipe away with wet cloth
Bleach is excessive in most cases. You should never ever mix bleach solution with any other cleaning chemical, and it’s likely to damage or discolor sensitive surfaces. Use it as a last resort if you can’t source or acquire any other kind of disinfectant. With bleach, remember to wear gloves, open your windows (ventilation is your friend), and be careful.
Alternatively, you can make your own bleach-free sanitizer spray with a few ingredients you can order online.
Does the Laundry Machine Work on Clothes?
Yes, mostly. Just washing your clothing with regular laundry soap and drying it at a slightly higher temperature than you might have otherwise is all you have to do to disinfect your clothes.
Be sure to disinfect surfaces the dirty laundry comes in contact with, including the hamper and your hands—especially if you have a sick person in the house.
Clean and disinfect the hamper like you would any other surface and wash your hands thoroughly after handling dirty laundry from someone who is ill. The CDC recommends using a liner in your hamper.
Don’t forget to clean your coat and backpack. Wiping the inside off with a disinfectant wipe should do the trick unless your jacket is machine washable.