One of the basic things we all need to do during the coronavirus pandemic is to keep our home virus-free, and ordinary cleaning is not enough. To ensure that we are protected from the coronavirus, we need to disinfect all the surfaces that we touch in every part of our home. According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, this particular virus can live on surfaces for up to three days. Unless we get rid of it ourselves, this can pose a serious danger to the entire household.
The coronavirus is said to be an “enveloped” virus. Virologists explain that as such, the coronavirus lives inside an envelope-like covering which is a fatty sphere wherein the human-cell-corrupting RNA of the virus is contained. In order to kill the virus, this envelope needs to be ruptured and this can be done using plain soap, which is said to be an effective agent for eliminating coronavirus.
The soap’s chemistry can crack open the coronavirus’s exterior, causing it to disintegrate. The soap’s molecules then traps these tiny fragments which are washed away as you rinse with water. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has prepared a list of over 400 disinfectants that have met their criteria for effectively killing the coronavirus. You can refer to this list before buying or using any spray or cleaner to disinfect your home.
A Few Things to Take Note of About Disinfectants
To ensure your safety as well as to guarantee that you are able to disinfect your home effectively against coronavirus pandemic, there are a few things you need to remember:
- Check the expiration date. Expired disinfecting agents will not be able to effectively work in getting rid of the coronavirus in your home.
- Carefully read the instructions on the label or packaging of the disinfectants before use so you know the proper dilutions and application of the products.
- Never mix disinfectants together, as they may react with one another and produce toxic chemicals.
- Keep the room you are disinfecting well ventilated, especially if you are using products like alcohol or bleach, to get rid of any toxic fumes.
- Observe proper storage of disinfectants. Check the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid accidents and ensure their shelf life. Keep them out of reach of children.
Tips on How You Can Effectively Disinfect the Various Parts of Your Home to fight coronavirus pandemic
Focus on furniture and surfaces that are frequently touched in this area, including the sofa, throw pillows, center table, side tables, lamp switches, and remote controls. Remove any visible dirt and grime before disinfecting. Doing this ensures that the disinfectant does its job effectively. Wait for at least 30 seconds for the product to effectively kill the coronavirus. Different products may require different wait times so it is best to check the label.
Disinfectants that are recommended for eliminating the coronavirus include grain alcohol (ethanol), rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol, bleach (sodium hypochlorite), and hydrogen peroxide. Before you buy over-the-counter disinfectants, look for the EPA registration number on the label. It is also important to follow the instructions as indicated on the product label.
If you will be using bleach, check the label instructions on how to prepare your bleach/water solution. You can also follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended ratio of a third-cup bleach per gallon of water or four teaspoons bleach per quart of water. Remember to never mix bleach with ammonia, as these two combined would create a toxic chlorine gas. Kurt Zilm, chairperson of the Yale University Chemistry Department, advises consumers not to mix products together as this could potentially lead to a dangerous outcome.
When disinfecting the surfaces in your kitchen, start by rinsing and scrubbing with warm water and soap or detergent to remove any dirt and foreign materials. Once these are cleaned, apply the disinfectant agent. Use alcohol, bleach, hydrogen peroxide, or other products that will not damage the surface that you are cleaning.
Since members of the household often go to the kitchen, it is best for you to clean and disinfect the parts of this area before and after use. Disinfect as often as you deem fit, paying extra attention to surfaces and areas that receive more traffic. To ensure that high-traffic areas and surfaces are free from the coronavirus, disinfect these daily. On the other hand, low-traffic surfaces may be disinfected at least once or twice a week.
Clean and disinfect “high-touch” areas of your bathroom first, such as light switches, doorknobs, and the sink areas, and be sure to sanitize these often. Aside from these, you will need to do the same for other parts of this room that are touched, including shower knobs, faucets, toilet flush handle, shower curtains, hair dryer, razor, and other electrical devices.
In case a family member is showing Covid-19 symptoms, the CDC advises that they use their own bathroom. If you only have one bathroom at home, ask the person with symptoms to disinfect the surfaces that they have touched after every visit to the bathroom. If they are too sick to do so, assign another member of the family to do this task, wearing a mask and gloves every time they do so. After performing this task, the mask and clothes need to be washed. The gloves should be disposed immediately.
Similar to the other areas at home, frequently touched parts of the bedroom, such as light and lamp switches, remote controls, doorknobs, and gadgets, should be cleaned every day. Soft surfaces like bed linens, pillows, and clothing need to be washed often. Use a good phenolic disinfecting spray like Lysol for mattresses, large pillows, bedding, and upholstered furniture. Lysol is included in EPA’s list of effective disinfectants and, aside from containing the ingredients necessary to kill the coronavirus, this spray is safe to use on both fabrics and hard surfaces. When using this product, spray the entire surface and let it stay wet for at least 30 seconds up to 10 minutes.
Dr. Sue Anne Bell, a nurse scientist, family nurse practitioner, and professor at the University of Michigan, says that it is possible for clothing to be contaminated with the virus and that there are steps you can take to prevent this. If you or a family member is an essential worker or is showing symptoms of COVID-19, use disposable gloves when handling their laundry. Considering that the coronavirus is transmitted through airborne droplets, avoid shaking the laundry before placing it in the washing machine. If you do not have enough disposable gloves, you can dedicate a pair of reusable gloves for coronavirus cleaning and laundry only.
The key to effectively disinfecting your home during coronavirus pandemic is to use products that are recommended by the EPA, use them according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and clean frequently touched surfaces around the house. Do this religiously and you can ensure your home is free from the coronavirus.