Spring cleaning has a whole new meaning for us this year. The COVID-19 virus is all around us, and makes many of us feel like we have little control over day-to-day events. However, to some degree, we can control what is happening inside our homes.
Here are some guidelines and recommendations on cleaning and disinfecting your home, aimed at limiting the spread and survival of the virus.
NOTE: Cleaning refers to the removal of germs and dirt from surfaces. Cleaning does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection. Disinfecting refers to using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.
Practice routine cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces throughout the day. For example, clean tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks, remotes, hard-backed chairs, etc. with household cleaners and disinfectants that are appropriate for the surface, following label instructions. Be sure to follow instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product, including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.
Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and discard after each cleaning. If you prefer reusable gloves, those gloves should be dedicated for cleaning and disinfecting of surfaces for COVID-19, and should not be used for other purposes. Clean hands immediately after gloves are removed.
Clean dirty surfaces prior to disinfecting. If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent, or soap and water prior to disinfection. For disinfecting, diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.
Make your own cleaning solution. With cleaning products being difficult, if not impossible, to find, you can make a diluted household bleach solution to use, if appropriate for the surface. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted. Prepare a bleach solution by mixing 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) bleach per gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water. NEVER mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.
Protect surfaces while cleaning them. For soft (porous) surfaces such as carpeting, rugs, and drapes, remove visible contamination, if present, and clean with appropriate cleaners indicated for use on these surfaces. If you are using a disinfectant spray, check to make sure it will not permanently damage and/or discolor the fibers. For example, diluted bleach will alter/remove the color from most fabrics.
By Elisabeth Stubbs, contributing writer one of the owners of Enhance Floors & More.