Cleaning and disinfecting have occupied a chunk of our daily routine. It can be not only exhausting but also confusing. Different claims on how to disinfect a house, which disinfectant to use, or the right degree of “clean” to achieve can distract us from what matters most. Scientists do not have a full grasp of the coronavirus yet, so our goals, for now, are to keep our environment safe and reduce our exposure to infectious agents.
To help you simplify and solidify your routine, we’ve rounded up the best practices for home disinfection that are recommended by health authorities.
Have a pre-disinfection routine
The use of disinfectants means you will be exposed to certain chemicals. Before cleaning or disinfecting objects, wear reusable or disposable gloves, eye protection, or a medical face mask to avoid inhaling the chemicals.
Ensure that you have adequate natural ventilation. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, opening windows or doors while disinfecting “can reduce risks from particles resuspended during cleaning, including those potentially carrying SARS-CoV-2 (or other contaminants).”
Proceed with cleaning first. Cleaning means removing any dirt or grime from the surfaces with soap or detergent and water. On the other hand, disinfecting requires you to use household disinfectants to kill the germs.
Prioritize high-touch surfaces
High-touch surfaces refer to those objects that family members frequently use and touch. These include kitchen and bathroom surfaces, handrails, light switches, toilets, door handles, mobile phones, remote controls, tables, chairs, and even your children’s favorite toys. Health authorities recommend cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces once daily to be safe, especially if there are people who frequently enter and leave the house.
Check the labels of your disinfectants
Bleach disinfectants are effective up to 24 hours, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). When using disinfectants, check their labels. CDC recommends bleach that has 5.25%–8.25% sodium hypochlorite.
To make your DIY disinfectant, add 5 tablespoons of bleach per gallon of room temperature water or 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of room temperature water. Other DIY disinfectants are vinegar and baking soda. If you do not have these at home, you can use ready-to-use disinfectant spray, disinfectant wipes, or alcohol solutions with 70% alcohol.
You must also check if the disinfectant is not suitable for certain surfaces or items, such as your watches and mobile phones.
Let the surface air dry
The best way to disinfect anything in your house does not depend on the type of disinfectant you use. The right way of disinfecting any is to leave the disinfected surface wet for three to four minutes while allowing it to fully air dry. This gives the disinfectant the time to kill the germs.
Use warm water for soft surfaces
For soft, porous surfaces like rugs, drapes, or carpets, you can vacuum as usual, according to the CDC. You can launder soft materials based on the manufacturer’s instructions, and experts recommend that you use the warmest appropriate water setting and dry items on high heat.
Consider a post-disinfection safety check
Take note of the surfaces you are disinfecting and make sure they are completely safe to touch again. For example, if you disinfected your kitchen counter and allowed it to air dry, it may be best to rinse it with clean water. This is because you and your family would use it again to prepare food. Finally, after the entire home disinfection process, do not forget to clean your hands with soap and water or with a handy sanitizer spray.
Research suggests that the coronavirus can live on surfaces for hours or days depending on the material. Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces may be a bit overwhelming, but for now, these are the things that we can control and focus on as we try to keep our homes safe and virus-free.
Do you have other home disinfection tips? Share them with us in the comments!
Words by Len Cristobal
Featured image from Canva