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, but 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, but up to two or three days on plastic and stainless steel. So cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces is a step we should all take.

High-Touch Surfaces to Clean and Disinfect Daily:

  • Doorknobs
  • Table surfaces
  • Hard dining chairs (seat, back, and arms)
  • Kitchen counters
  • Bathroom counters
  • Faucets and 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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. If you aren’t able to obtain disinfectants at this time, just do a thorough job with the soap or cleaning agents you do have.

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 particular 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.

Disinfectants:

  • 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. First off, please do use more soap, water, and scrubbing. That can make a huge difference. The CDC also 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.

Should You Disinfect Food and Snacks?

No, not without reason. According to the FDA, there is no evidence to suggest that food or food packaging can transmit the novel coronavirus, so there is currently no need to disinfect food or food packaging any more than you usually would. Just observe standard food safety.

Should You Disinfect Packages and Mail?
Image may contain Box Cardboard Carton and Package Delivery
PHOTOGRAPH: JULIE CLOPPER/GETTY IMAGES

Yes, lightly. According to the USPS, mail and packages are relatively low-risk for transmitting the novel coronavirus, and packages from China pose no special risk compared to packages from anywhere else. That said, researchers have found that it can live on cardboard for around 24 hours, so giving packages a once over with a disinfecting wipe isn’t a bad idea.

How to Disinfect Your Devices

the back of 3 new google pixel 4 phones in orange white and black colors
PHOTOGRAPH: GOOGLE

Here’s where cleaning and disinfecting can get tricky. Your devices might be all that’s keeping you sane during your self-isolation but, as we all know, they’re magnets for germs. They’re high-touch surfaces you carry with you everywhere, so you need to clean and disinfect them, too. To avoid repeating myself, let’s just say it here: Disinfecting wipes are the best way to clean your devices, hands down. But some devices have special considerations.

How to Disinfect Your Phone or Tablet

If you have them, disinfect an iPhone or Android phone with a disinfecting wipe or alcohol solution (at least 70 percent). Make sure you pay special attention to the screen, the buttons, and anywhere dust and pocket lint tend to get trapped. Also make sure you remove any case that’s on your phone or tablet, clean underneath, put it back on, and clean the outside. Following the CDC recommendations for other high-touch surfaces in the home, a once-daily disinfecting isn’t going to hurt your devices.

(Read our full guide to disinfecting your phone.

How to Disinfect Your Computer

Laptop displays aren’t always made of glass (matte displays are plastic) so avoid using a disinfecting wipe on the screen, just in case. The display should be cleaned with isopropyl alcohol (70 percent) solution and a soft towel. Make sure you wipe down the keyboard, the trackpad, the exterior, and where your wrists rest on the laptop.

Most desktop computers are already in sore need for a cleaning. The best way to do that is with a disinfecting wipe or isopropyl alcohol solution and a soft towel. Again, avoid disinfecting wipes on the monitor, just in case—stick to isopropyl alcohol there. But otherwise, just make sure you wipe down the mouse (top, sides, and bottom), the keys on your keyboard, the exterior of the keyboard, and any mousepad you might have.

Don’t Forget Accessories

For any other electronic device, if the exterior is largely plastic (gaming mice, gamepads, TV remotes) it’s safe to give them a once-over with a disinfecting wipe or isopropyl alcohol solution.

 

Updated March 27: We’ve clarified that if you’re unable to obtain disinfectants, using soap and water on surfaces is still important and can be effective. Source article supplied by: https://www.wired.com/story/coronavirus-disinfectant-cleaning-guide/