You are probably well aware that cleaning your hands is the first and best defense against contracting the coronavirus or the flu. But what, if anything, can you do to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and/or flu germs around your house?
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As the coronavirus and flu season intensifies, we need to be diligent about protecting the space where we spend the most time – our home. Thankfully, it doesn’t require much extra effort. The most important thing is to use the appropriate cleaning products and to focus on the most likely germ spreading culprits.
Know the Difference Between Cleaning and Disinfecting?
When dealing with the coronavirus or the flu, keep in mind that there are two methods of prevention – cleaning and disinfecting. The CDC specifies that these two methods are distinctly different.
Cleaning is the act of removing germs from surfaces. However, it does not kill them. While disinfecting is the act of killing germs but does nothing to remove them. The best option is to incorporate the two.
Proper Cleaning Solutions to Prevent the Spread of Coronavirus
For cleaning, using soap and water for an appropriate length of time is ideal. However, cleaning works best on surfaces that can be subjected to water for at least 20 seconds. Submerging or running water is ideal.
Unfortunately, many items around the house can not be treated with soap and water alone, and we must rely on disinfectants to tackle those unseen germs.
To make a solution that will disinfect (kill) the coronavirus and/or flu, the CDC recommends mixing 5 Tablespoons of bleach per gallon of water.
Product Myths to Avoid:
While we DIYers enjoy making and using our own green and organic products, in this case it is better to be safe than sorry. Avoid using these products that have not been proven to be effective against coronavirus and/or the flu.
- Vinegar – at this time, there is no evidence about the efficacy of using Vinegar to kill certain viruses including the coronavirus.
- Vodka and/or homemade vodka products – While vodka may state that it is 80 proof on the bottle, the amount of ethyl alcohol is just 40%. That is way less than the recommendation of 60% alcohol for hand sanitizers and 70% for disinfectants.
Although we all love making homemade linen sprays, sanitizers, and cleansers, they must use the proper percentage of alcohol to be effective against the coronavirus and flu. Most vodkas do not meet that threshold.
Areas to Clean and Disinfect Regularly
- Remote Controls
- Sink and tub Faucet handles
- Toilet Flush levers, seats, and lids
- Kitchen countertops and cabinet knobs/pulls
- Light switches
- Electronic devices – laptop, smartphones, tablets, keypads can be cleaned with a damp disinfectant wipe
- Refrigerator handles
- Automobile door handles and radio buttons
- Stairway handrails
- Toys and play areas
- Trash cans
- In addition, pay special attention to any other areas that are frequently touched in your home.
These areas harbor tons of germs and are common culprits for spreading viruses. Wipe them down with a disinfectant wipe or a paper towel and solution.
Hard surface toys such as legos can be soaked in a bucket, sink or tub filled with disinfectant solution. Soft surface toys and traps cans can be disinfected with sprays.
Things to Keep On Hand:
- hand sanitizer* – 60% alcohol minimum for effectiveness.
- wipes – look for wipes containing bleach or alcohol such as Lysol or Clorox wipes*
- disinfectant soaps – foam soaps are great for less than diligent children
- disinfectant sprays* – Lysol, Microban, etc.
- cleaners containing bleach* – household cleaners contains bleach
- alcohol 70% isopropyl* – Below 50% begins to lose effectiveness and more than 70% evaporates too fast. In addition, cell membrane penetration of viruses requires water. So, stick with 70% when using alcohol.
- Laundry Sanitizer *- use on colored items that can’t be washed with bleach
More In Home Tips to Prevent the Spread of the Flu or Coronavirus:
- Always clean surfaces that are dirty or grimy before using a disinfectant.
- Allow the disinfectant to dry naturally rather than wiping dry with towels. This gives the active ingredients time to kill the coronavirus and/or flu germs.
- Paper towels and/or disposable wipes are better when cleaning for the purpose of disinfecting. Sponges and cloths can harbor and spread germs.
- During active seasons, swap out those hand towels with paper towels to avoid the potential for spreading illnesses.
- Place disinfectant wipes near the entrance/exit doors of your home. Encourage everyone to sterilize upon entering.
- Once per day – do a quick walkthrough with a disinfectant wipe to hit all the critical zones – remotes controls, light switches, doorknobs, etc..
- If someone does get sick in your home, pay special attention to their room. Disinfect trash cans regularly. Wash sheets separately in the hottest water setting allowed. Use bleach with whites and laundry sanitizer *with colors. After they have recovered, be sure to replace their toothbrush with a new one.
Away from Home Tips:
Plan for potential issues when away from home. – Place disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizers in your purse and in the automobile. Place disinfectants in your child’s backpack. Individual wipes can fit well in wallets and small carriers.
Avoid touching things with your hands – Use elbows to push elevator buttons. Use feet to open doors. Use paper towels or wipes when touching faucet handles and door handles.
Avoid using water fountains.