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Social distancing is recommended to slow the spread of coronavirus, and that means you’re likely spending a lot of time at home. Cleaning your home is one of the best ways to keep your family safe and healthy and can help give you a feeling of control and accomplishment during these uncertain times.
So, how do you clean your home effectively to stop coronavirus germs in their tracks? Experts are still learning how coronavirus spreads. Although they believe the virus spreads mainly from close contact with an infected person, it likely can also be spread on contaminated surfaces. This happens when you touch an object that has the virus on it, such as a doorknob or counter, and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
Why Cleaning Your Home Is Important
Some research has shown that coronavirus may be able to live on many types of surfaces from several hours, and up to two to three days on plastic and steel, meaning you could catch it from a contaminated surface a few days after someone who is infected has touched it. This makes regular cleaning of often-touched surfaces in your home an important way to prevent the spread of the virus.
You may think you can’t catch COVID-19 in your own home if no one is sick. But researchers have found it might be possible for people to spread coronavirus before they have symptoms, so you might not know someone in your household is spreading the virus in your home until it’s too late.
If someone in your home is diagnosed with COVID-19, it’s even more important to follow a strict cleaning routine to prevent the spread of the virus to others in your household.
To clean your home and help protect the people you love, follow these tips.
Clean First, Then Disinfect
The most effective way to prevent the spread of any germs, including viruses, is to clean the object first, and then disinfect it.
By cleaning an object or surface, you remove dirt and germs using soap and water. While cleaning reduces the number of germs on the surface, it does not kill them. To kill germs, you’ll need to disinfect the surface using chemicals designed specifically for this purpose, such as bleach.
The Environmental Protection Agency has put together a list of recommended disinfectants to use to help keep your home safe from coronavirus.
Surfaces You Should Clean and Disinfect
It’s a good idea to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects in your home at least once a day.
- Cabinet and appliance handles
- Hard-backed chairs
- Light switches
- Remote controls
- Sinks and faucets
Be sure to wear disposable gloves as you clean and disinfect these surfaces, and throw the gloves away after each use, so you’re not spreading germs from the gloves. If you choose reusable gloves, use them only for the purpose of cleaning for coronavirus, not for other types of cleaning. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer after removing the gloves.
What to Use to Clean and Disinfect
When you’re ready to get started cleaning high-touch surfaces in your home, start by cleaning the surface with soap and water. To disinfect, use one of the following:
- An alcohol solution that contains at least 70% alcohol
- A commercial EPA-registered household disinfectant that claims to kill germs
- A diluted bleach solution*
*You can make a diluted bleach solution by diluting four teaspoons of bleach in a quart of water, or five tablespoons of bleach in a gallon of water. Check the expiration on the bleach to make sure it’s effective. Remember: Never mix bleach with ammonia or any other type of cleanser.
Whatever cleaning and disinfecting products you use, be sure to follow the instructions on the label for correct concentration and proper use.
How to Clean Laundry and Linens
If someone in your home is diagnosed with COVID-19, you should take extra care in washing that person’s used linens and laundry.
When touching the laundry, wear disposable gloves and throw them away after each use. Then wash your hands. If you don’t have gloves, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with warm water and soap or use hand sanitizer.
Although you can wash the sick family member’s laundry with other laundry from your household, do not shake his or her laundry. This could spread the virus.
When laundering clothes and linens, follow the directions on clothing labels and detergent. Use the warmest temperatures recommended on labels, and dry thoroughly.
If you use a hamper for the sick person’s laundry, be sure to clean and disinfect it regularly. You can also collect their laundry in a washable or disposable bag.
Get the Latest Updates on Coronavirus
Learn how to best protect yourself and your family from coronavirus on our Coronavirus Resource Hub. We offer lots of information, including the answers to frequently asked questions, myths versus facts and more. Visit often to get the latest coronavirus updates for you and your family.