This year, spring is a little different. Thanks to the coronavirus outbreak, your spring cleaning will no longer consist only of selling old clutter and dusting shelves.
Clean and Disinfect All Frequently-Touched Surfaces
Our hands are teeming with germs, COVID-19 or otherwise. Any surface you come into contact with on a daily basis will be quite dirty.
Yes, germs die — but not quickly. For example, the CDC has stated that COVID-19 can stay on surfaces from a few hours to a few days.
Surfaces you should pay special attention to include
- Light switches
- Car keys
And more. When in doubt, it’s probably a surface that needs frequent cleaning.
Cleaning and disinfecting are not the same thing. Cleaning involves physically removing germs from a surface without always killing them, while disinfecting entails killing germs.
You must do both, but cleaning has to come first for maximum effectiveness — especially if the surface is visibly dirty.
To clean a surface, just use detergent, water, and paper towels. Thoroughly wipe down each surface.
Next comes disinfecting. To disinfect, you can use an EPA-approved household disinfectant (look for the EPA number on the label). Apply the disinfectant to the entire surface, then let it air dry.
You need to be much gentler with soft surfaces. Most household disinfectants are meant to be used on nonporous surfaces, like your countertops. Using them on your carpets, rug, or upholstery might not work.
Instead, you have a few options.
For rugs, drapes, and other non-permanent items, you can launder them appropriately according to their labels. Your carpets may require steam cleaning.
Alternatively, you can try to find an EPA-approved disinfectant designed especially for soft surfaces, although you might have to spend more time looking for one.
Electronics are a bit difficult — you can’t use water. Manufacturers are well aware of that, and so they provide instructions in the user manual that you can follow. You can also browse online to find specific instructions.
If, for one reason or another, you can’t find guidance, use alcohol-based wipes or sprays that are at least 70% alcohol. Alcohol is relatively safe for electronics when used within reason.
After applying the alcohol, dry the object thoroughly.
In the future, consider putting a wipeable cover on your electronics. That way, you’ll have more flexibility when cleaning the device without worrying about damaging it.
When it comes to laundry, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Always use the warmest appropriate setting for washing and dry items completely before removing them from the dryer and storing them.
There are extra precautions you must take to keep yourself safe, though, with the virus around. First and foremost, wear disposable gloves if handling the laundry of a sick person.
Consider doing so for healthy peoples’ street clothes as well — the shirt you wore in public might have gotten the virus on it somehow. You can wash the clothing of both healthy and sick people at the same time.
Do not shake dirty laundry at all to minimize the chance that the virus would be dispersed into the air.
Lastly, clean and disinfect everything you or the laundry comes into contact with. That includes washer and dryer doors/handles, hangers, laundry baskets, and hampers. Wash your hands as well.
Dedicate a specific marked trash can for any sick individuals in your household. When disposing of any garbage, use disposable gloves and wash your hands after.
As Always: Personal Hygiene
It’s been said already, but wash your hands often. Never touch any part of your face with unwashed hands. Make sure to give them a thorough cleaning:
- After removing gloves
- After making contact with a sick individual
- After using the bathroom
- After cleaning anything
- After contact with pets or animals
- After coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose
- Before and after preparing food
- Before eating food
When in doubt, wash your hands.