Practical Advice from the CDC
As Coronavirus spreads the public seeks security and solace. Containment is the primary focus during a pandemic. And people want to know what they can do to flatten the curve. Currently, there is a plethora of reliable guidance from credible sources. The best advice concerning cleaning your home and disinfecting for Coronavirus should come from reliable sources like the CDC and WHO.
Accurate information is what will eventually give us back a sense of control and limit the reach of the virus. This is information that can be safely shared with respect to the protecting, disinfecting, and the cleaning of residences. “Safely Shared” should be stressed.
Misinformation erodes trust. Worse still, it can lead to behaviors that put people at risk of infection. Working in a field dependent on trust you must be especially mindful of the information you are sharing. Do not share information without first checking the source.
Don’t Bring COVID-19 Home
A great deal of the information focused on cleaning homes is aimed at residences where persons under investigation, or where confirmed cases of COVID 19, live.
It is provided for caregivers or those in self-isolation.
The best way to protect your home from coronavirus is not to bring it home in the first place. This involves following the oft-repeated recommendations of the World Health Organization:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water
- Maintain Social Distancing (keeping two arms lengths from others as much as possible has been recommended by Canada’s Public Health Services)
- Avoid touching your face
- Practice Respiratory Hygiene (cough like Dracula, into your elbow)
If, out of necessity, you have been outside of your home immediately wash your hands when you return.
Cleaning and Disinfecting: A Quick Distinction
There is a difference between cleaning and disinfecting. And any advice on protecting your home from coronavirus should first define the terms.
Cleaning is the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. Cleaning does not kill germs. However, it does lower their numbers and the risk of spreading infection by removing them.
Disinfecting refers to using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces.
Cleaning and Disinfecting How-Tos
- Wear Gloves: Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.
If reusable gloves are used, they should be dedicated for cleaning and disinfection of surfaces for COVID-19. They should not be used for other purposes.
- Wash Your Hands: Immediately after removing your gloves you will need to clean your hands
- Clean then Disinfect: Keep in mind the distinctions made above. If surfaces are dirty, you will want to clean them first using a detergent or soap and water. After surfaces are clean you can disinfect.
What Should You Use to Disinfect?
According to the CDC “alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective” in disinfecting.
These are likely not common in many homes. Fortunately, unexpired household bleach is also effective if properly diluted.
The recommended bleach solution is prepared by mixing:
- 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water or
- 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
If you are disinfecting with bleach remember to properly ventilate when doing so.
The active ingredient in liquid bleach is sodium hypochlorite. Bleach does naturally degrade over time into salt and water in the bottle. This is why you will want to make sure you are using unexpired bleach.
And never mix bleach with other cleaning products. If mixed with vinegar or ammonia based products bleach is very toxic.
Soft Surfaces and Laundry
Soft Surfaces refer to carpeted floors, drapes, and drapes. To properly clean such items use soap and water and launder where appropriate.
Speaking of laundry, you will want to use gloves when transfering clothes. And yes, remember to wash your hands immediately after removing the gloves.
Clean and disinfect the clothes hamper after use.
Note that dirty laundry from an ill person can be washed with other people’s laundry. Also, you may use the manufacturers instructions when washing.
Taking Out the Trash
If there is a known ill person in the home use a dedicated lined bin for their trash. When taking out the trash you will want to use gloves. And following this wash your hands.
About Routine Cleaning
When cleaning your home generally pay special attention to frequently touched (or “high-touch”) surfaces.
Determining a high-touch surface is fairly easy. Doorknobs, light switches, and toilets immediately come to mind when thinking of surfaces that fall into this category.
But don’t forget about remotes, keyboards, drawer handles, phones, and the faucets you’ve been using to wash your hands so frequently.
You can use spray or wipes to disinfect. And soapy water for cleaning.
Given where we are currently, with daily reminders of social distancing and some countries in lockdown, this last point may go without saying.
You should limit the number of people visiting your home.
This allows you to keep the recommended two arms lengths distance from others and, crucially, reduces the number of people touching surfaces in your home who may have touched a contaminated surface.
Our ability to effectively rebound from this pandemic will be dependent on our ability to quickly and efficiently flatten the curve.
Economically, it will be dependent on our confidence and trust in our institutions and in each other.
Feeling safe and comfortable in one’s home is an essential component of security. Accurate and up-to-date information on the disinfecting and cleaning of your home to protect from coronavirus can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/.
Most of the information provided is consistent with a commonsense approach to containment. Keep this in mind when encountering “new” information and check sources prior to sharing them.