12 Places to Clean in Your Home to Prevent the Spread of Illness
Pay attention to high-touch areas of your home – especially those you don’t normally disinfect.
The COVID-19 virus probably has you spending just about all of your time at home these days, so it’s important to expand your preventive measures beyond hand-washing to actively disinfect surfaces throughout your home – including those that are touched often but frequently overlooked in cleaning.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the COVID-19 virus can remain viable on a hard surface for hours or days, so it’s important to pay attention to the high-touch parts of a home, and especially those you normally don’t disinfect.
Fortunately, you don’t need industrial cleaning products to disinfect your home. Many of the cleaners that are probably already in your cabinet and help cut down on the spread of bacteria and viruses are also effective in killing the coronavirus.
“What’s most important for consumers to realize is what they can do … isn’t too far different from their regular cleaning practices,” says Brian Sansoni, senior vice president of communications, outreach and membership at the American Cleaning Institute, an organization that represents the makers of cleaning products, based in the District of Columbia.
Here are 12 places in your home to clean to prevent the spread of illness, including the COVID-19 virus:
- Light switches.
- Hard-backed chairs.
- Remote controls.
- Toiletries and makeup.
You may be able to calculate how many times you touch a single doorknob on a daily basis, but then you have to consider every other door in the house and how many times they are touched by different hands in a day. Especially while everyone is at home for an extended period of time, disinfect all doorknobs a couple of times a day. While social distancing may cut down on the possible viruses and bacteria that family members would otherwise pick up in the outside world, it’s possible that a family member is simply not exhibiting symptoms of an illness yet.
Light switches are another high-touch spot throughout your house that should be disinfected daily – more than once a day when the flu or another virus is going around. Disinfectant wipes should be sufficient, as they would be with doorknobs, or follow the label instructions on the bottle of a spray disinfectant.
Take a look around your kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and other spots and notice all the handles you’re likely to touch, including dresser drawers, cabinet handles, the oven door and even the buttons and handle on your microwave. “Plenty of people wipe the stove, but they rarely spend any time on the knobs,” says Rick Williams, CEO of SafeSpace Disinfecting Innovations, based in Springfield, Missouri.
Hard-backed chairs often fly under the radar when you’re cleaning, so be sure to disinfect chairs that are sat in frequently, and make sure to get the backs that are touched by hands to pull out or push in the chair from a table.
You’re working from home, and your kids are now doing some informal homeschooling, so any desks will likely be touched often. Disinfect these surfaces a couple times a day if they’re being used throughout the day.
Tables serve as makeshift desks for kids doing homework, home base for family dinners and a temporary spot for purses or backpacks – after they sat on the floor in a public setting. Disinfect your table more than once a day, especially before and after meals.
Like your kitchen or dining table, countertops become a catchall for items that were outside the home recently, but also for the food you’re about to prepare for dinner. Sansoni recommends cleaning and disinfecting your counter surfaces frequently, particularly before and after food preparation.
You already think of a toilet as a little gross, and hopefully you already clean it regularly. However, when viruses are spreading easily and you’re concerned about them transmitting from one family member to another, step up your toilet-cleaning game. Disinfect toilets daily and be sure to focus on areas touched by hands, including the flush handle and edge of the toilet seat.
As you wash your hands frequently throughout the day, you’re also frequently touching faucets. But have you disinfected the faucet itself? Spray or wipe faucets in your sink, tub and shower a few times throughout the day to avoid the chance that one person will spread a virus to another.
In addition to faucets, disinfect the entire sink while you’re at it. The kitchen sink should be disinfected daily, particularly before and after food prep that exposes more items to potential viruses and bacteria.
There’s a good chance you’re watching more TV these days while you’re social distancing, so include your remote control on the list of items to clean. This can be done by “using a disinfectant wipe on that a couple of times a day,” Sansoni says.
Toiletries and Makeup
Your toothpaste, face wash and even makeup containers are items you probably touch once or twice a day but never get cleaned. Viruses aside, Williams points out that people often touch the toothpaste tube to brush their teeth after having gone to the bathroom without washing their hands first.
As you disinfect, it’s important to use the right products and practices to kill bacteria and viruses on surfaces, but also to reduce the chances that you’re spreading germs around the house.
Here are five tips to clean your home effectively to reduce the spread of the coronavirus:
- Wash your hands.
- Wear gloves while cleaning.
- Disinfect consistently.
- Read the cleaner and disinfectant label.
- Read up on alternatives if you run out of cleaning products.
Wash your hands. The CDC stresses that it’s imperative to wash your hands frequently to prevent the spread of the coronavirus or other viruses and bacteria. “When I walk into the house, the first place I go is to the bathroom, and I do a really thorough washing of hands with a disinfectant hand soap,” Williams says.
Wear gloves while cleaning. To avoid picking up a virus while cleaning, the CDC advises that you should wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in your home, and throw them away after use. If you only have reusable gloves, be sure you’ve dedicated them for cleaning purposes only. You should still wash your hands before and after cleaning even when you wear gloves.
Disinfect consistently. While you’re concerned about exposure to a virus, disinfecting frequently is key. But don’t douse your entire home in bleach. “You don’t have to over-clean (and) you don’t have to panic-clean, but just touch up a few spots more than you might regularly clean, because there’s more foot traffic at home,” Sansoni says.
Read the cleaner and disinfectant label. Not all sprays listed as cleaners will kill viruses and bacteria, so be sure to read the label before using. “Any EPA-approved disinfectant will kill almost any virus or bacteria because they’re fragile outside the body,” Williams says. Also be sure to follow directions on the label; some disinfectants need to sit on a surface for a few minutes before you wipe them away to effectively kill viruses.
Read up on alternatives if you run out of cleaning products. Finding household cleaning products in the store is difficult right now, so if you run out, take stock of other possible cleaning products you can use. For surfaces that will not be damaged by bleach, you can dilute bleach with water and use it as a disinfectant solution. “You’d wind up having to deal with the smell, but it’s effective,” Williams says. Be sure to read the label for proper dilution, and avoid mixing bleach with chemicals that could be a dangerous combination.