According to the World Health Organization, “The [COVID-19] disease spreads primarily from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, which are expelled when a person with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes, or speaks. These droplets are relatively heavy, do not travel far and quickly sink to the ground. People can catch COVID-19 if they breathe in these droplets from a person infected with the virus. This is why it is important to stay at least 1 meter) away from others. These droplets can land on objects and surfaces around the person, such as tables, doorknobs, and handrails. People can become infected by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose, or mouth. This is why it is important to wash your hands regularly with soap and water or clean with alcohol-based hand rub.”
The coronavirus is what virologists categorize as an “enveloped” virus. As such, the human-cell-corrupting RNA of the virus lives inside an envelope-like fatty sphere. For this virus to be eliminated, this covering should be ruptured. This can be achieved using plain soap because the soap’s chemistry can crack open the outer shell that surrounds the coronavirus and cause it to disintegrate. Once this covering is ruptured, the soap’s molecules trap these tiny fragments which are washed away as you rinse with water.
As of May 18, 2020, close to 500 million people have been infected by the coronavirus, and over 315,000 people have died on a global scale. Without a vaccine to protect our loved ones and us, the best way to safeguard our health is to stay home and to keep our homes coronavirus-free by disinfecting all the areas that might potentially harbor this deadly virus. Take note that cleaning alone is not enough. Effective disinfectants are necessary to eliminate this virus in your home successfully. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has prepared a list of over 400 disinfectants that have met their criteria for effectively killing the coronavirus. You can refer to this list before buying or using any spray or cleaner to disinfect your home.
How to Disinfect the Various Parts of Your Home
The things you will need to disinfect first in your living room are furniture and surfaces that are touched frequently. This would include the couch, throw pillows, center table, side tables, lamp switches, and remote controls. You will need to wipe off visible dirt and grime before you disinfect, so your product can effectively eliminate the coronavirus. Wait for a minimum of 30 seconds to allow the product to kill the virus. Disinfecting agents differ in wait times, so check the label for instructions. When buying over-the-counter disinfectants, check the label and look for the EPA registration number.
The recommended disinfectants are:
- grain alcohol (ethanol)
- rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol
- bleach (sodium hypochlorite)
- hydrogen peroxide
If you’re going to use bleach to disinfect your living area, read the label instructions on how to prepare the bleach/water solution. Otherwise, you may also follow the recommended ratio as provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which is one-third cup of bleach for every gallon of water or four teaspoons of bleach per quart of water. Never mix bleach with ammonia, as this would produce a toxic gas called chloramine, which may cause coughing, breathing problems, watery eyes, and chest pain. Kurt Zilm, the chairperson of the Yale University Chemistry Department, warns consumers against mixing disinfecting products, because doing so may lead to a dangerous outcome.
In the kitchen, the first step in disinfecting hard surfaces is to remove any dirt and foreign materials by rinsing and scrubbing with soap or detergent and warm water. Once these surfaces are clean, the next step is to apply the disinfectant agent, such as alcohol, bleach, hydrogen peroxide, or other products that will not damage the surface that you are cleaning.
The kitchen is generally the most frequently visited part of the house, so it is best to clean and disinfect the surfaces before and after the members of your household use them. Some surfaces, like the refrigerator and microwave doors, maybe touched more often compared to other areas in your kitchen, so use your best judgment as to how often you will need to clean and disinfect them. As a rule of thumb, high-traffic areas and surfaces should be disinfected every day, while low-traffic surfaces may be disinfected at least once or twice a week.
Light switches, doorknobs, and the sink are considered “high-touch” areas of your bathroom, so be sure to clean and disinfect these first. Aside from these, you will also need to do the same for shower knobs, faucets, toilet flush handle, shower curtains, hairdryer, razor, and other electrical devices that are often used in the bathroom.
In case one of the members of your household is showing Covid-19 symptoms, the CDC recommends that they use their bathroom. However, if you only have one bathroom at home, the person with the symptoms would need to disinfect the surfaces that they have touched every time they go to the bathroom unless they are too sick to do so, and another member of the household will have to perform this task. They must wear a mask and a pair of gloves as they clean after the sick member of the household. After cleaning the bathroom, wash the mask and clothes and dispose of the gloves immediately.
Just like the other areas in your home, you would also need to prioritize those frequently touched parts of the bedroom. These would be the light and lamp switches, doorknobs, closet and drawer handles, remote controls, and gadgets, which should all be cleaned daily. For soft surfaces like bed linens, pillows, and clothes, these would have to be washed at least twice a week. You can use Lysol for disinfecting mattresses, large pillows, bedding, and upholstered furniture. Lysol is listed as one of the recommended disinfectants by the EPA, and this spray is safe to be used on both fabrics and hard surfaces.
According to Dr. Sue Anne Bell, a nurse scientist, family nurse practitioner, and professor at the University of Michigan, clothes can be contaminated with the coronavirus. Still, there are a few things you can do to prevent this. If you or a family member is an essential worker, you need to wear disposable gloves when handling their laundry. Do the same for members of your household who are showing symptoms of COVID-19. Do not shake the laundry before placing it in the washing machine. If you do not have disposable gloves, you can use a pair of reusable gloves, but be sure to just use these for coronavirus cleaning and laundry.
For you to be able to effectively disinfect your home and protect yourself and the rest of your household from the coronavirus, it is essential to use only the products that are recommended by the EPA, follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully, and clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces around the house regularly.