Here’s what we know about how COVID-19 spreads: It is primarily transmitted through close contact with infected people via nose and mouth secretions. The virus can also spread through droplets on surfaces or objects when people sneeze or cough on them, and then other people touching those infected surfaces. This is why the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the following public minimal health standards, which are our first line of defense against COVID-19: 1) Washing our hands thoroughly with soap and water, especially when out in public and as soon as we get home, 2) wearing our masks in public, and 3) keeping a distance of six feet from other people.
With the information available to us, we can infer that there are practices homeowners can adapt to protect their homes from the virus. While there are no surefire ways to completely protect yourself from the virus—it is an invisible enemy, after all—there are still steps you can take to stay on top of the fight. Better to know you’re doing everything you can than not do anything at all.
Here are tips and tricks to keep your home as spotless and virus-free as possible.
General Cleaning and Disinfecting
First, let’s distinguish between cleaning and disinfecting. Cleaning is the act of dusting up contaminants on a surface, while disinfecting is about exterminating pathogens. Both are important, especially if guests are always in and out of your home.
There are areas in your home that need more cleaning and disinfecting than others, namely, the high-touch surfaces. These areas or items include but are not limited to:
- Light switches
- Dining chairs
- Sinks, faucets, and faucet knobs
- Toilet seats and handles
- Bathroom counters
- Game controllers
- Remote controls
- Desk surfaces
First, clean the surfaces to make sure they’re free from visible dust and dirt, then disinfect them using disinfecting wipes or spray. Choose products that claim to kill influenza and other coronaviruses. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) came up with a list of recommended products that can eliminate SARS-CoV-2. Here is a tool to help you find the best disinfectant for your home.
Clean and disinfect your home regularly, especially if you constantly leave your house or if you’re still receiving guests. Consider hiring professional cleaners from time to time, too—they also offer deep cleaning and sterilization services, and professional cleaners can reach places that need to be cleaned that are not necessarily accessible to us.aa
There are secondary practices you can implement to make sure your home remains virus-free.
- Consider leaving your used shoes outside. While the odds of the virus surviving on clothes and shoes are low, the chances still exist. But coronavirus or not, there are benefits to leaving your used shoes outside: for one, they keep dust and dirt outside. Have sets of slippers ready for you and your families to change into before you step inside your home.
- Invest in a good home air purifier system. Appropriately used, air purifiers and HVAC filters can help kill airborne contaminants and pollutants. There is no consensus yet regarding the new coronavirus being airborne; we only know that it moves in a myriad of ways. Air purifiers can be an extra layer of protection, but not our first line of defense.
- Mind your takeout food, packages, and groceries. The truth is there’s not enough evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be transmitted through inanimate objects or surfaces, but it’s also not impossible. So for your peace of mind, consider re-heating your take out food and using your plates and cutlery. Sanitize and disinfect your packages and groceries as well—a study suggests the virus can linger on cardboard for up to 24 hours, while it can live on plastic for up to three days. Yes, the odds are low, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Disinfect your devices, computers, and other accessories. Use aerosol sprays and cleaning solutions that don’t contain bleach and other abrasives. Spray a small amount on your devices, avoiding the holes, and gently wipe it down with a lint-free cloth.
Do It for Your Peace of Mind
It’s always important to separate facts from misinformation, and with COVID-19, it’s almost like we’re always playing the odds. The situation is scary because it’s out of our hands, but it doesn’t mean we’re completely powerless. These small practices are a small price to pay to keep the virus at bay. As long as we play our part, we can help protect not just ourselves but also the most vulnerable in society.