Cleaning and Sanitising Against Coronaviruses

It’s generally agreed among leading health authorities worldwide that the key to combating coronavirus lies in two things:

  1. Avoiding exposure to those carrying Covid-19
  2. Taking every day hygiene to the next level

As a result, public health bodies like the WHO, CDC and NHS have issued updated guidelines on how we should all be cleaning our homes, our possessions and ourselves. Most of which is basic common sense, though with added precautions that should be taken due to the severity of the current situation.

Here’s what the latest guidelines on keeping yourself and your home clean and sanitary advise:

Wash Your Hands Obsessively

It’s been the number one rule since this whole nightmare began, but is nonetheless worth emphasising once again. The single best way of preventing the spread of Covid-19 (and protecting yourself from the virus) is to wash your hands thoroughly on a regular basis.

Follow the minimum 20-second rule, use antibacterial soap where possible and top up with alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) throughout the day.

Clean and Disinfect

An important point to remember – cleaning and disinfecting are not the same thing. They’re both equally important in times like these, but serve completely different purposes as follows:

  • Cleaning is the process of removing surface contaminants
  • Disinfecting kills pathogens and makes the surface safe

It’s still unclear if and to what extent Covid-19 can be transmitted via surface contamination. Nevertheless, properly cleaning and disinfecting can practically eliminate all such risk from the equation entirely.

Hence, it’s better to be safe than sorry, which means heeding all common-sense cleaning advice to the letter.

Focus on High-Touch Surfaces at Home

For example, concentrations of germs, bacteria and viruses are more likely to manifest on the higher-touch surfaces around the home. You’ll therefore want to focus your efforts particularly on these surfaces, which include the following:

  • Doorknobs and handles
  • Kitchen counters
  • Toilets and sinks
  • Dining chairs and tables
  • Taps and mixers
  • Light switches
  • Game controllers
  • TV remote controls
  • Mobile devices
  • Computer mice and keyboards

Consider your everyday habits and work out which surfaces you touch most often, as these are the spots that need the most attention when cleaning and disinfecting.

Clean First, Then Disinfect

Cleaning and disinfecting is a two-step process, which looks a little like this:

  1. Tackle surfaces around the home with soapy water and an appropriate cloth/towel, or with any appropriate cleaning spray for the surface in question. Make sure as much dust and debris as possible is removed.
  2. Next, take an appropriate disinfectant spray or disinfecting wipe to give the surface a final polish. Just be sure that it’s a disinfectant (or wipe) that’s been approved as capable of killing germs, bacteria and viruses, which should be made clear on the packaging.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, any product capable of killing influenza, RSB or SARS virus (which are all types of coronaviruses) will most likely work against Covid-19.

DIY Disinfectant

If you’re unable to pick up an approved disinfectant product for any given reason, you can easily knock up your own DIY version at home as follows:

  1. Place approximately one litre of water in a spray bottle
  2. Add 4 teaspoons of household bleach
  3. Give the whole thing a good shake before using
  4. Spray and leave on the surface for 10 minutes before wiping

Be sure to use appropriate gloves when handling and using bleach, while ensuring there is sufficient ventilation in the room. In addition, avoid using this DIY disinfectants near fabrics to avoid damage to the colours.

Is Machine Washing Enough for Clothes?

For the time being, there’s nothing to suggest doing your laundry as normal (though perhaps at a slightly higher temperature) isn’t adequately effective against Covid-19. 

It’s worth taking extra precautions if you think you may be sick or you’re caring for a sick person at home, but regular machine washing at a slightly higher temperature is considered adequate right now.

Washing and Disinfecting Purchased Products

By contrast, this remains something of a grey area. As it stands, major authorities like the WHO and NHS are not recommending the cleaning and disinfecting of product packaging, or packages received by post.

However, new evidence suggests that the Covid-19 can indeed survive for up to three days on certain materials, including plastic and cardboard. As a result, some are suggesting additional common-sense precautions to be safe, by way of a quick wipe of all product packaging after bringing it into your home.

If you’ve a pack of disinfectant wipes to hand, there’s no harm in giving your shopping a quick wipe before putting it away.

And again, always wash your hands thoroughly after handling any products you purchased or received by post, just in case.

How to Disinfect Your Devices

Last but not least, disinfecting mobile devices is of the utmost importance.  Evidence having shown that there are few things around the home more disgustingly dirty and unhygienic than mobile phones, tablets, laptop computers and so on.

It’s generally not recommended that heavy-alcohol cleaners be used on mobile devices and touch screens, due to the damage they can cause. Instead, it’s worth investing in a pack or two of specialist electronic device cleaning wipes, which get the job done safely and effectively.

In any case, it’s a small price to pay for the unthinkable nasties that your smartphone is probably harbouring as you’re reading this right now!

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