Tips for Disinfecting Your Home

With the outbreak of coronavirus, people are taking cleaning and hygiene extra seriously.  Keeping your environment clean and sanitary is crucial not only for your everyday health, but especially during a health crisis. Here are a few tips for disinfecting your home:

 

1.  Cleaning vs. Disinfecting

While we often use these words interchangeably, cleaning and disinfecting have different meanings. Cleaning is the process of removing dirt, impurities, and germs from a surface, while disinfecting is the process of killing germs that are present on a surface. If you need to disinfect a surface that is dirty, first clean the item with soap and water or a mild detergent. Do not use a cleaning agent, as many active ingredients can cause harmful effects when mixed with common disinfectants like bleach.

 

2.  Follow the Instructions on Products

There are dozens of different cleaning and disinfecting products available and all of them should be used properly. Read label instructions carefully prior to use to ensure that you do not need extra precautions such as skin and eye protection, or ventilation. Products can also require different methods or wait times for use depending on what type of surface it is being used on. It is a good idea to look up a product’s safety data sheet (SDS or MSDS). These sheets contain all the vital safety information you need to know about a product from what to do if the product is ingested or inhaled, to how flammable it can be. By law, product manufacturers must make SDS sheets available on their websites.

 

3.  Never Mix Cleaning Agents

Mixing common household cleaners can have toxic, even deadly effects. It is important that you never use multiple cleaners and disinfectants together. For instance, common natural cleaning agents contain vinegar, which can create caustic acid when mixed with disinfectants that contain hydrogen peroxide. Bleach, which is a cost-effective disinfectant, should never be mixed with anything but water, since it has adverse reactions with many common cleaners such as ammonia, vinegar and other acids, as well as hydrogen peroxide.

 

4.  Time

To get the full effectiveness of a product, it is important that you wait the recommended amount of time for proper cleaning or disinfecting. Some disinfectants can take up to ten minutes to work properly.

 

5.  Know What Your Product is Effective Against

Not all cleaners and disinfectants are created equal. Make sure that the products you have at home are effective against whatever virus or illness you are trying to combat.  The EPA has a searchable list of products that list what diseases they are effective against when used properly.

 

6.  Soft Surfaces (Clothes, Rugs, Linens, etc.)

It’s important that you don’t overlook soft surfaces when doing a deep clean. Rugs, curtains, clothes, and bed sheets collect dirt and germs just like the other surfaces in your home and need to be routinely cleaned. The most effective method for disinfecting is to wash soft surfaces in the hottest water they can tolerate and let them dry completely before putting them back. Damp cloth can cause mildew and mold growth. For items that can’t be laundered, like carpets, use a steam cleaner with an approved disinfectant.

 

7.  Pay Close Attention to High-Use Surfaces and Items

Doorknobs, light switches, faucets, and kitchen appliances all receive daily use from almost everyone in your household. You should give them extra attention when disinfecting your home and clean them more often than other surfaces.

 

8.  How Often to Clean

How often you clean your home is just as important as the cleaning itself. Areas like the kitchen and bathrooms should be cleaned weekly.

 

9.  Basic Hygiene

Humans are what carry the majority of the dirt and germs into your home, yourself included. Practicing basic handwashing can help cut down the amount of germs and dirt that get onto other surfaces in the home. The most critical times to wash your hands are after using the restroom, before and after handling food, and after handling pets. 

 

For more resources for protecting your home against coronavirus, see the World Health Organization and CDC.

 

 

Contributed to Your Home blog by Cory Olesen

Looking for more tips, ideas or inspiration? Return Home here.

Published 4.6.2020

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