As more and more of the global population will be spending time inside of their homes in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, it is vitally important to ensure that your homes are clean and sanitised. Recent studies of COVID-19 have tentatively suggested that the virus can last on some surfaces (such as plastic and stainless steel) for up to three days. Cardboard can host the virus for 24 hours and it can remain in the air for three hours. It is not just important to maintain thorough hygiene standards for this virus, but for a number of everyday pathogens that could infect you especially as more family members are spending more time at home.
There is no need to panic though, just keeping a healthy standard of cleanliness at this time is advised. Talking to Healthline, microbiologist Jason Tetro commented on the studies of the Coronavirus lasting on surfaces: ‘The testing is not indicative of what happens in the real world. I don’t see any need to clean/disinfect surfaces more regularly as a result. And no one should be afraid of the air like they should be with measles, which is airborne.’
If someone in your household does contract the virus however, it is good to adopt extra precautionary tasks to minimise the risk of infection where possible by keeping them isolated and regularly disinfecting the surfaces they use. When cleaning, wear rubber gloves to protect your hands both against germs and the abrasiveness of bleach. Regularly clean and swap cloths for different surfaces to minimise ‘spreading’ germs. And wash your hands thoroughly, for twenty seconds after cleaning, even if you have been wearing gloves.
For general and more serious cleaning practices, antibacterial products will not work against COVID-19, as it is a virus not bacteria. (Yet, still use antibacterial practises for the other nasty bugs that may be sitting on your surfaces). General advice is claiming that you need products that contain at least 70% alcohol in order to make an impact. Yet many specialised products, due to panic-buying are hard to access right now. However, this is not to say that these are essential – Hot soapy water, bleach, or alcohol-based cleaners will work effectively.
There is a difference between cleaning and disinfecting. Where cleaning can be effective and will remove dirt and germs, Disinfection will actually kill these germs. They are two separate processes. Disinfection is necessary when someone in your household is ill and will be needed on shared surfaces that come into contact with bodily fluids and whilst disinfection is a surer way of getting rid of nasty micro-organisms, the products need to be used correctly in order for them to work properly. For example, bleach needs to be mixed with cold water, as hot water will make it redundant. Always thoroughly read the label on your cleaning products.
Which states ‘For disinfection, diluted household bleach solutions (hydrogen peroxide or sodium hypochlorite), alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and certain anti-viral household disinfectants should be effective.’
Reported in Business Insider Dr. Michael G. Schmidt, professor of microbiology at the Medical University of South Carolina, advises on the regular practise of cleaning your home:
‘Dr. Schmidt explains that after washing our hands, the next best way to protect your family is to wipe down countertops, doorknobs, light switches, and common surfaces with a microfiber cloth dampened in a solution of hot water and an all-purpose cleaner like Method twice per day. “The slight abrasion of the microfiber cloth and the cleaning solution will lift and dilute any microbes that have settled on the surfaces,” says Dr. Schmidt. “Since electronics don’t hold up well to soap and water, use an alcohol wipe with at least 70% isopropyl alcohol to clean cell phones, remotes, and keyboards.”’
The wiping down of commonly used surfaces, especially those that may have been contaminated by the outside world or the infection, such as door handles, is widely advised. So, when you are cleaning your home, clean the normal surfaces in need of attention such as kitchen counters and bathrooms, but also try to think about those surfaces that are regularly touched – banisters, light switches and appliances.
Do not worry if you encounter shortages of specialised cleaning products in the shops. According to Good Housekeeping, their experts advised that there are easy at home mixtures that can be used: ‘To use bleach, mix 4 teaspoons of chlorine bleach with 1-quart of water, applying the mixture directly to the surface. You’ll need to let it sit for at least five minutes before you wipe it off. To use hydrogen peroxide, simply spread it on the surface of question straight from the bottle. Let it set for at least one minute before wiping away.
To use rubbing alcohol, be sure to source 70% Isopropyl rubbing alcohol beforehand. You can also apply directly and let it sit for at least 30 seconds.’