In 2020, perhaps more than any time in recent memory, our homes have become a source of comfort and protection. Spending extra time at home means more mess, more wear and tear on the house, and more germs – especially for families with kids. Trying to maintain a germ-free home is stressful and impossible to do. However, focusing your cleaning efforts in the right areas is an effective way to keep your household safe and healthy.
According to recent information from the NIH, the Covid-19 virus is detectable for up to three hours in the air, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic and stainless steel. So it’s important to clean and disinfect certain surfaces frequently. Read on for helpful tips on keeping your home as clean and safe as possible.
Coronavirus Recommendations From the CDC
The CDC recommends washing hands frequently with soap and water. You don’t need anti-bacterial soap – just scrub well (front and back) for at least 20 seconds. When should you wash your hands?
- When you arrive home
- After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
- Before eating or preparing food
- After using the bathroom
- After doing laundry
- After emptying trash cans
- After caring for a sick person
Make sure every sink in your home is stocked with liquid hand soap and plenty of clean hand towels.
Keep sanitizing wipes or disinfectant spray and paper towels handy for cleaning faucets and counters after use.
Getting Kids To Wash Their Hands
Hand-washing is a life skill that eventually becomes a habit. The best way to get kids in the habit is to lead by example. Wash your hands at the recommended times, and give frequent reminders. If you’ve all come in from outdoors together, wash your hands together.
Set up the sink your kids use most to help build the habit:
- Let your kids pick a soap they like, and use a container with a favorite character or color.
- Make sure everyone can reach the sink – keep a step stool handy.
- Tape the lyrics of a 20-second song to the mirror so they can sing along as they scrub.
Get the kids in on the fun by creating a hand-washing poster from your favorite song at washyourlyrics.com.
Cleaning vs. Disinfecting
People catch viruses by touching contaminated surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. So it’s important to distinguish between cleaning and disinfecting.
- Cleaning removes dirt and reduces the number of surface germs. Clean dirty surfaces first, then disinfect.
- Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces to reduce the risk of spreading infection.
For effective virus control, focus on cleaning and disinfecting germ-prone areas like the kitchen, bathrooms, and high-touch surfaces. Choose EPA-registered disinfectants (see the current list here) approved to fight the novel coronavirus.
Check before using to make sure a product is safe for your surface material. Products containing bleach can discolor grout and some stone surfaces.
Disinfect Items At Drop Zones
A drop zone near the door for backpacks, keys, phones, and sunglasses is a smart way to keep from losing things.
Set up your drop zone with cleaning supplies to make it easy to sanitize as soon as you arrive home. Drop your items, wash your hands for 20 seconds, then wipe your things down with disinfecting wipes. Rubbing alcohol (either in a wipe or on a paper towel) is best for phones and electronic devices. Stop even more germs at the door by leaving shoes, purses and backpacks there.
Disinfect High-Touch Surfaces Daily
Trying to sanitize the entire house isn’t practical. Instead, focus on disinfecting surfaces that get the most contact throughout the day. Gather supplies into a cleaning caddy so they’re easy to grab.
Use sanitizing wipes or disinfecting spray to clean doorknobs, light switches, tabletops, cabinet handles, desks, toilets and sinks. Use paper towels and rubbing alcohol to clean electronics. Rubbing alcohol evaporates quickly, so it won’t soak in and cause damage. Use alcohol to wipe down phones, keyboards, remote controls and gaming devices.
Handle Laundry Carefully
While viruses don’t survive long on fabric, taking care with laundry is a good idea. Avoid shaking dirty laundry as it can spread germs through the air. Don’t let wet items sit around, and wash hand towels daily. If your hamper has a fabric liner, wash it when you do laundry.
Wash laundry on the warmest setting your clothes and linens can handle. Wash your hands after handling dirty clothes and towels, and wipe down counter tops with disinfectant. If you have a sick family member, use gloves while sorting their laundry, and wash it separately.
Set Up An Isolation Room
If a family member becomes sick you should isolate the patient from the rest of the household. With the corona virus going around it’s smart to set up an isolation room in advance. If you have more than one bathroom, designate one for patient use only. Then follow these isolation tips:
- Separate Meals: The patient should eat meals in their room.
- Handle dishes carefully: Wear gloves and use hot water or a dishwasher. Wash your hands after touching used dishes.
- Separate trash: Dedicate a trash can for the sick person and line it with a garbage bag. Wear gloves when disposing of trash. Wash your hands afterwards.
- Separate laundry: Keep the patient’s laundry and towels in their room until they can be washed.
For more information, check the CDC’s recommendations for household members and caregivers on its website. Being prepared and creating a routine to clean and disinfect your home will help keep everyone healthy and safe.
Read more information about area rug care, visit our Area Rug Cleaning Guide.