During this time of coronavirus pandemic, it is not enough to keep your home clean. What you need to ensure is that your home is free from this deadly virus. Now more than ever, it is essential that you disinfect your entire home, especially areas where you and your family frequently stay, focusing on surfaces that you often touch, mainly because this virus can live on surfaces for up to three days, according to data published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Coronavirus is what virologists call an “enveloped” virus. Simply put, this means that the coronavirus lives inside an “envelope” or, more accurately, a fatty sphere in which the virus harbors its human-cell-corrupting RNA. For you to be able to kill the virus, you will need to tear open this envelope.
The good news is, plain soap is said to be useful for disinfecting coronavirus. What makes soap work effectively is its chemistry, which enables it to pry open the coronavirus’s exterior, causing it to degrade. These tiny fragments of the virus are then trapped by the soap molecules and are washed away in the water. Hand sanitizers work in the same way, breaking apart the proteins contained in a virus. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also prepared a list of over 400 disinfectants that have met their criteria for effectively killing this virus. You can refer to this list if you want to check on a particular spray or cleaner before buying it or using it to disinfect your home.
What do you need to take note of when disinfecting various rooms inside your home? Here are some tips:
The couch, throw pillows, coffee and side tables, lamp switches, remote controls, and anything else that is often touched should be the focus of your disinfection. Before you start disinfecting these, you will have to remove any visible dirt and grime so the disinfectant can do its job effectively. It is essential to wait for at least 30 seconds (check the label for timing) for the product to kill the coronavirus effectively.
Recommended disinfectants include bleach (sodium hypochlorite), hydrogen peroxide, grain alcohol (ethanol), and rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol. When purchasing any over-the-counter disinfectants, look for the EPA registration number on the label. You also need to follow the product label instructions properly for the disinfectant to be effective. If you will be using bleach, read the label instructions for creating your bleach/water solution, or follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended ratio of a third-cup bleach per gallon of water or four teaspoons bleach per quart of water. Be careful not to mix bleach and ammonia, as this creates a dangerous and potentially deadly chlorine gas. Kurt Zilm, the chairperson of the Yale University Chemistry Department, advises against mixing products as this might result in a dangerous outcome.
When cleaning surfaces in your kitchen, you will need to first remove any dirt and foreign materials by rinsing and scrubbing with warm water and soap or detergent. Next, apply a second disinfectant such as alcohol, bleach, hydrogen peroxide, or other appropriate disinfection agents that will not damage the surface that you are cleaning.
Use your best judgment as to how often you will have to clean this space in your home, disinfecting areas that receive more traffic more often compared to those that don’t. High-traffic areas and surfaces need to be disinfected every day, while low-traffic surfaces should be sanitized at least once or twice a week. Ideally, kitchen surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected before and after use.
Focus on cleaning “high-touch” areas of your bathroom, such as light switches, doorknobs, and the sink areas. Aside from these, anything that people touch should be cleaned as well, including shower curtains and knobs, faucets, toilet flush handle, hairdryer, razor, and other electrical devices in the bathroom.
If a family member is showing Covid-19 symptoms, the CDC advises that they use their own bathroom. If your home only has one bathroom, the person with symptoms will have to clean the surfaces that they have touched. If they are too sick to clean, another member of the family will need to clean the area, wearing a mask and gloves. After cleaning, wash the mask and clothes and throw away the gloves.
The most used part of the house is the bathroom, clean and disinfect the bathroom thoroughly to help fight the coronavirus pandemic.
Frequently clean light and lamp switches, remote controls, doorknobs, gadgets, and other items and surfaces that you frequently touch. Soft surfaces such as bed linens, pillows, and clothing need to be washed more often is showing symptoms of the disease.
For mattresses, large pillows, bedding, and upholstered furniture, it is best to use an excellent phenolic disinfecting spray like Lysol, which is included in EPA’s list of effective disinfectants. Unlike an ordinary air-freshener, Lysol contains the ingredients necessary to kill the coronavirus, yet it is safe to use on fabrics and hard surfaces. Spray the entire surface and allow it to remain wet for at least 30 seconds up to 10 minutes.
Although it is said that clothing is not likely to be a significant source of contamination, according to Dr. Sue Anne Bell, a nurse scientist, family nurse practitioner, and professor at the University of Michigan, it is always best to take precautionary measures. If you or any household member is an essential worker or is showing symptoms of COVID-19, handle laundry of these members with disposable gloves. Take note that coronavirus is transmitted through airborne droplets, so make sure that you do not shake the laundry before placing it in the washing machine. If you do not have enough disposable gloves, you can use reusable gloves but dedicate this to coronavirus cleaning and laundry only.
Things to Remember to fight Coronavirus Pandemic:
When disinfecting your home, there are a few things you will need to keep in mind to ensure your safety and also to guarantee that your efforts will effectively eliminate the coronavirus, if there is any, in various areas of your home:
- Keep the room you are disinfecting with products like alcohol or bleach well ventilated to get rid of any toxic fumes.
- Read the instructions on the label or packaging to ensure that you are making the proper dilutions and application.
- Check the expiration dates. Using expired disinfecting agents will not effectively get rid of the coronavirus.
- Do not mix disinfectants, as they may react with one another and consequently produce toxic chemicals.
- Store disinfectants properly. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid an accident and ensure its shelf life.
By using effective disinfectants as recommended by the EPA, applying them correctly, and cleaning frequently touched surfaces around the house, you can effectively help fight coronavirus pandemic.