In the midst of a pandemic, we want to feel like we have at least one “safe” space. For many of us, this space is our home, but is your home really “safe” from the Coronavirus? This depends on your cleaning and disinfecting practices. As the number of cases of COVID-19 in the United States continues to rise, and the possibility of having to self-isolate at home continues to be very real, it is important that we are aware of the proper methods of cleaning and disinfecting our home. Here is what you need to know about maintaining a virus-free home and making sure your home remains your “safe” space.
The Difference Between Cleaning and Disinfecting
The first important distinction to understand when attempting to keep your home COVID-19 free is the difference between cleaning and disinfecting, as they are often incorrectly categorized as the same thing. According to the CDC, cleaning refers to the removal of dirt, germs, and impurities from a surface. While cleaning does remove germs and therefore reduces the risk of spreading infection, cleaning does not kill germs. Disinfecting, on the other hand, refers to using chemicals, such as EPA-registered disinfectants, to kill germs on surfaces. Disinfecting does not necessarily clean surfaces, as it does not remove germs, however disinfecting a surface after cleaning it does kill remaining germs, and therefore can further lower the risk of spreading infection.
Which Disinfecting Products Effectively Kill Covid-19
It is very important that you use the correct products to disinfect your home, or your disinfecting efforts may be unsuccessful. The CDC recommends disinfecting with household cleaners and EPA-registered disinfectants. Medivico is an EPA-registered company, and our alcohol-based products meet the CDC guidelines for disinfecting surfaces. We offer 75% alcohol wipes, a 75% alcohol spray, and a 75% alcohol hand sanitizer. When using disinfecting products, it is imperative that you follow the usage and storage instructions on the product label and store these products out of reach of young children.
Cleaning Hard Surfaces
The CDC recommends that high touch, hard surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, countertops, light switches, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks, sports equipment, and toys are routinely cleaned and disinfected. These are just examples of common high touch surfaces, but every household is different, so it is important to consider which surfaces in your home fall into this category. According to a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine, the virus can remain on copper for up to 4 hours, on cardboard for up to 24 hours, and on plastic and stainless steel for up to 2-3 days. In order to tackle these potentially germ-infested surfaces, first put on either disposable or reusable gloves and pre clean these surfaces with soap and water. Next, use the appropriate disinfecting product and follow the directions on the label. Disposable gloves should be discarded after cleaning, and reusable gloves should be dedicated only to the cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces for COVID-19, and not for any other use. Once you remove your gloves, clean your hands immediately.
Cleaning Soft Surfaces
It is equally important that you routinely disinfect soft surfaces throughout your household, including clothing and linens. While there is currently no specific research that has been conducted that shows how long Coronavirus can survive on clothes or linens, this means that it is still a possibility that the virus can survive on these surfaces. If your clothing may have been contaminated by COVID-19, change out of your dirty clothes as soon as possible and do not touch your face or contaminate anything else in your home with your clothing, then wash your clothes with detergent and the warmest possible water that the garments allow. As for your bed linens, experts are recommending that you wash them twice as often as you did before the pandemic according to the manufacturer’s usual washing instructions.
Electronics such as phones, tablets, touch screens, keyboards, and remote controls can collect germs. When cleaning your electronics, the CDC recommends following the manufacturer's instructions for all cleaning and disinfecting products. If no guidance is available from the manufacturer, considering using an alcohol-based wipe or spray with an alcohol content of at least 70% to clean your electronic device. Once disinfected with one of these products, dry the surface thoroughly. The CDC also recommends considering putting a wipeable surface over your electronic items, such as a keyboard cover, when possible for easier cleaning.
Handling Food and Hand Hygiene
The CDC recommends always washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water before preparing or eating food. There is currently no evidence showing that Coronavirus can be transmitted through food, but it is possible that you may touch an infected surface and then touch your mouth while eating, or someone’s respiratory droplets may end up on your food. Washing your hands before preparing or eating food is a general food safety practice and should be done regardless of the pandemic’s status. Additionally, wash your hands after bringing take-out food or delivered food into your household. When unpacking groceries, do not use disinfectants made for hard surfaces, such as bleach, on food packages made of cardboard or plastic wrap. After unpacking all of your groceries, wash your hands with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer if soap and water is not available.
If a Member of Your Household Becomes Ill
If a member of your household is diagnosed with or is suspected to have COVID-19, additional precautionary measures must be taken. Put the ill person in a separate bedroom and have them use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household, if possible. Give the ill person their own lined trash can, and empty the trash can wearing disposable gloves, washing hands immediately afterwards. If possible, have the ill person clean their own spaces. According to the CDC, the caregiver should provide personal cleaning supplies for an ill person’s room and bathroom, unless the ill person is a child or another person for whom these cleaning supplies would not be appropriate. These supplies include paper towel, tissues, cleaners, and EPA-registered disinfectants. The CDC states that if there is not a separate bathroom available for the ill person to use, the ill person should clean and disinfect the bathroom after each use. If the ill person is unable to clean the bathroom on their own, the caregiver should wait as long as possible to clean and disinfect the room, especially the high-touch surfaces.
While it may sound overwhelming, all of these cleaning and disinfecting practices are worth it to avoid having traces of COVID-19 in your home, which could potentially lead to a member of your household becoming ill. Remember to always have the proper alcohol-based products on hand so that you are able to clean and disinfect when necessary. In addition to cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in your home, remember to always wear a mask in public spaces, and to maintain a 6-foot distance when possible from others who are not a part of your household. If you are planning on leaving your home at any point during the pandemic to travel via airplane, check out our recent blog post that highlights the safest way to do so.