It is mid April now and in the past month the way we live, and breathe, has changed completely for close to 90% of the world.
Most of us have been instructed to stay at home, only venturing out for essential trips to the grocery store or doctor. The devastating impact of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) has not only narrowed our living space to home (and for our essential employees just home and work), but also to adopt targeted hygiene practices to keep ourselves and our families safe.
With so much information changing on a daily, and sometimes hourly, basis it is only natural to feel uncertain about what you need to clean, how often, and with what type of product.
We compiled the latest information below where you will find the best practices from leading experts and the CDC regarding cleaning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Wash Your Hands
Handwashing remains the number #1 practice to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. Using soap and water and rubbing your hands together for a minimum of 20 seconds, and then drying with a disposable paper towel is the most effective process to remove germs. When washing is not a viable option, keeping a bottle of hand sanitizer immediately available is suggested. Supplies of hand sanitizer have been diminishing and disappearing, however you can make your own and there are a number of articles such as this one that break it down step by step.
Why and When Your Need To Wash Your Hands
It has been reported that the average person touches their face up to 23 times per hour, therefore it is important to wash your hands many times a day and specifically after the following activities:
- After any kind of public outing such as grocery stores or even after a walk around the neighborhood.
- Before leaving the bathroom — both at home and in public bathrooms.
- Before, during, and after preparing food, especially raw food.
- Before eating food.
- Before and after treating a cut or wound.
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet.
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste.
- After handling pet food or pet treats.
- After touching garbage.
- After putting on your shoes
Cleaning Your Home
Cleaning and disinfecting your home daily is an important step during this time, even if no one is sick. Practicing social distancing, wearing a mask, and donning gloves are all vital, however you can still bring germs into your house.
The Difference Between Cleaning and Disinfecting
Cleaning a surface won’t kill bacteria and viruses, however, it will wash away dirt and food impurities that contain germs. Clean your surfaces first and then disinfect in order to kill germs. According to the New England Journal of Medicine the novel coronavirus is capable of living on surfaces up to 2-3 days, so clean and disinfect often even if you haven’t left your home.
High-Touch Surfaces to Clean and Disinfect Daily:
- 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
There is currently no evidence that coronavirus can be transmitted from fabrics, however because we are still learning about the mobility of this virus, the CDC advises that when handling laundry items using the warmest appropriate water setting and drying them completely. It also said to avoid shaking laundry to reduce the risk of the virus dispersing into the air.
The CDC also said to remove visible contamination on soft surfaces such as carpets, rugs and drapes if present, and clean with appropriate cleaners indicated for use on those surfaces.
While the FDA does not recommend washing your fruits and vegetables with soap and water (clean as you normally do with just water), based upon the New England Journal of Medicine study mentioned above, there are steps you can take to clean and disinfect groceries you bring in to your home.
- Use soap and water disinfectant wipes to clean bottles, cans, and jars you bring in from the store.
- You may want to transfer foods like whole grains, dried beans, pasta, cereals and other similar items to clean containers. That way you don’t have to worry about the small chance of a virus lurking on the container the food came in.
- Use the sanitize setting on your dishwasher when cleaning any containers you will use for food.
Should You Disinfect Packages and Mail?
According to the World Health Organization, “The likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low and the risk of catching the virus that causes COVID-19 from a package that has been moved, traveled, and exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low.”
However, since we know that coronavirus does stay on surfaces for up to 72 hours the following are some expert recommendations you can take when it comes to your mail and packages:
- Designate a corner or room for new packages and leave them isolated for at least 24 hours.
- Always wash your hands and refrain from touching your face after opening packages.
- Wait for packages/mail to be left a safe distance away before collecting them.
- Wipe down packages with disinfectant wipes.
As we adjust to our new normal, please continue to follow social distancing, stay at home, wash your hands, and follow CDC guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting.
Please refer to the EPA-registered disinfectant products to use against Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and you can find more information on the spread of COVID-19 on the CDC website here or the National Institutes of Health’s website here.