Spring cleaning has long been a trend but sparkling clean counters and disinfected doorknobs have never been more important than they are right now. That's because one recommended precaution to help prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is to disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces daily.
While experts are still learning more about the virus that causes COVID-19, it's believed to spread mainly from person-to-person through respiratory droplets. Another way may be through "surface transmission." This is the term for what may happen when you touch a surface that someone with the virus has coughed or sneezed on, and then you touch your nose, mouth or eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
One way to prevent this spread of COVID-19 is frequent hand hygiene – either washing your hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Keeping the "high-touch" surfaces of your home clean is important, too. View four tips for keeping your home clean and family healthy during COVID-19. You can also learn more about disinfecting your home on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
Tips for cleaning and disinfecting your home during COVID-19
1. Clean and disinfect hard surfaces
The CDC recommends people routinely clean high-touch surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks, sports equipment and toys.
When cleaning, be sure to wear disposable gloves and use soap and water to preclean if an area or item is visibly dirty. Then, you can use a household disinfectant to kill germs on surfaces. Use disinfectants that meet the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) criteria for use against the coronavirus and are appropriate for the surface you are cleaning. Follow the instructions on the label to ensure safe and effective use of the product.
If you want to make disinfectant, one option is a diluted solution of household bleach. To make a bleach solution, mix five tablespoons (1/3 cup) of bleach per gallon of water or four teaspoons of bleach per quart of water.
- Check the label to make sure the bleach you are using is okay for disinfection and that the expiration date hasn't passed.
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions. Don't mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleaner.
- Make sure the room is well ventilated.
- Leave the bleach solution on the surface for at least a minute before wiping off.
One important reminder for parents: Ensure cleaning supplies are kept out of reach of young children to prevent exposure and poisoning.
2. Keep electronics clean
When thinking of frequently touched objects, don't forget your household electronics. Tablets, touch screens, smartphones, keyboards and remote control devices are getting a workout these days. Keep your (and your kids') electronics clean by:
- Putting a wipeable cover on electronics.
- Following the manufacturer's instructions for cleaning and disinfecting. A good guideline is to use alcohol-based wipes or sprays that contain at least 70% alcohol.
- Drying the electronics' surface thoroughly.
3. Don't forget soft surfaces
Experts aren't sure whether the virus that causes COVID-19 can live on your clothing or bedsheets for any length of time. However, it's still recommended that you launder sheets, pillows, clothing and plush toys regularly – especially if someone in your home is sick.
When laundering clothing, towels, linens and other items:
- Follow the manufacturer's instructions, using the warmest water setting possible. Be sure to dry items completely.
- When handling clothes worn by someone who is sick, wear disposable gloves.
- Do not shake dirty laundry.
- After handling dirty laundry, be sure to remove your gloves and wash your hands right away.
Dirty laundry from a person who is sick can be washed with other people's items.
4. Practice hand hygiene when handling food and food containers
It's unlikely that the coronavirus survives for very long on food products and packaging. In fact, there is no evidence that food or food packaging has been linked to COVID-19 illness. But to help keep your family healthy when grocery shopping, ordering takeout or preparing food, refer to these recommended guidelines:
- After leaving the grocery store, use hand sanitizer. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds when you get home.
- Limit in-person contact as much as possible by ordering online, using curbside pickup or asking that deliveries be left outside your home
- Wiping down cereal boxes and other packages isn't necessary. Instead, focus on washing your hands after handling them.
- Before preparing or eating food, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds for general food safety. Always follow food safety guidelines when preparing food.
- After receiving deliveries or bringing home takeout food, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. If you don't have soap and water, use a hand sanitizer.
The CDC offers more helpful guidelines to minimize your exposure to COVID-19 while running essential errands.
Take extra precautions if someone in your home becomes ill
Even when taking steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it's possible someone in your family will become sick. Remember, most people who get sick with COVID-19 will have only mild symptoms and are able to recover at home.
The CDC recommends following these cleaning guidelines if someone in your household develops symptoms of COVID-19.
- The person who is sick should stay in a separate bedroom with their own bathroom, if possible.
- Interact with the person who is sick as little as possible while still providing the care your family member needs.
- If the person who is ill can manage it, ask them to clean their own space. You can help from a distance by providing tissues, paper towels, cleaners and disinfectants.
- Wash the sick person's dishes and utensils with hot water and soap. Be sure to wear gloves or use a dishwasher.
- Give the person who is sick their own lined trash can. Use gloves when handling and disposing of trash and wash your hands afterwards.
How Children's Health is keeping our hospital clean
Your family's health is more important than ever – and we’re here to help. Find out how we're keeping patients safe.
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