The coronavirus pandemic has changed our lives, seemingly overnight. How can you keep COVID-19 and other infectious diseases out of your home so that you and your loved ones stay healthy?
Cleanliness is next to healthiness
During any disease outbreak, including the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to keep your home clean and disinfected. Pay particular attention to frequently touched surfaces such as:
- Light switches and the plastic plates around them.
- Tabletops and the edges beneath them.
- Refrigerator doors and kitchen countertops.
- Chair arms, backs and seats.
- Handles on doors, appliances, faucets and cabinets.
- Cabinet doors, room doors and appliance doors.
- The TV remote and cabinet.
- Everyone’s cell phones.
If one of these surfaces is visibly dirty with grease, crumbs, debris or the like, clean it before disinfecting. You can successfully disinfect these areas with a number of products.
- Plain old soap and water, if you scrub vigorously.
- Commercially prepared disinfecting products, such as Clorox® Clean-up Cleaner + Bleach or Lysol® All Purpose Cleaner. Make sure the product targets viruses such as coronavirus and not just bacteria. Read the label carefully to determine how to use it and how long the product needs to stay on the surface.
- A bleach-and-water solution. Mix one-third of a cup of bleach with a gallon of water (or four teaspoons with a quart). Make sure the surface is clean before using, and allow the solution to sit for at least 10 minutes before you wipe it away. Never mix bleach with anything but water, and wear gloves when using it.
- A solution containing at least 70 percent isopropyl alcohol. Clean the surface first with detergent and water. Let the solution stay on the surface for at least 30 seconds.
Household (3 percent) hydrogen peroxide. Spray it on clean surfaces and let it sit for several minutes. Do not mix hydrogen peroxide with vinegar.
- Do not rely on vinegar, homemade hand sanitizer or vodka to disinfect your home’s surfaces. Remember that even if you have just disinfected a surface, you must disinfect it again if a person with the coronavirus infection touches it.
To clean the surfaces of computers or cell phones, Apple suggests wiping them with Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes or 70 percent isopropyl alcohol. Power these devices down before cleaning. Avoid using bleach on these items.
Wash clothes and bed and bath linens frequently. To wipe down fabric upholstery, check the tag for cleaning instructions. Tags will have a letter designation for what to use: Polyester and nylon fabrics will have a “W” for water-based cleaners. Natural fibers such as cotton, rayon and wool will have an “S” designation for dry cleaning solvents. An “SW” code means you can clean the upholstery with either type of cleaner.
Coronavirus and personal hygiene
To avoid infecting yourself or others in your household with coronavirus, follow these suggestions.
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Sing “Happy Birthday” to yourself twice through to make sure you have washed long enough.
- Don’t touch your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Make sure any alcohol-based hand sanitizers you use contain at least 60% alcohol.
- Cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow or a tissue, not your hand. Promptly throw the tissue in the trash, and wash your hands immediately.
- If you are sick with the coronavirus, stay in your bedroom and segregate yourself from family members, especially the elderly and those with chronic health conditions. If possible, use a different bathroom from the rest of the household.
Outside the home
If you leave your house for work or errands, take the following steps to avoid bringing coronavirus home to your family.
- If possible, carry a canister of sanitizing wipes in your car.
- Use wipes to clean shopping carts, door handles, faucets and around your workspace.
- When you pump gas, use a sanitizing wipe to clean the pump handle and buttons before use. Once you’re back in your car, disinfect your hands and clean the steering wheel, gearshift, door handles and anything else you may have touched, such as the radio.
- If you are healthy, you don’t need to wear a mask when you leave your house. But if you are sick with coronavirus, wearing a mask can help keep you from breathing out the virus and infecting others.
- Buy sufficient groceries to cut down on repeated trips to the grocery. But don’t hoard and deprive others; the nation’s food supply is in no danger. Consider shopping online, or use grocery delivery for routine purchases.