Due to the present COVID-19 pandemic, public health officials are recommending certain actions designated to help keep individuals safe and healthy. These measures are also aimed at reducing public exposure to COVID-19 and reduce the spread of the disease, in accordance to your local and living situation.
Besides social distancing and restricting people to their homes, another aspect health authorities are continuously stressing on is the need to maintain hygiene. This includes both personal, and the cleanliness of your home. With regard to this, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a set of steps for cleaning and disinfecting your home, especially in the case of someone being sick with COVID-19.
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is notoriously known to linger on surfaces for almost three days. Routine cleaning with soap and water is essential, especially of frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs and handles, tables, light switches, countertops, phones, toilet faucets, keyboards among others. This should be followed by disinfecting the surface with a household detergent, preferably one recommended and registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
To keep yourself safe from exposure to germs and chemicals, make sure to wear disposable gloves before you begin. The CDC suggests following the instructions on the label of the disinfectant for effective results. These include keeping the surface wet for some time, and having good ventilation to avoid inhaling harmful fumes.
Diluted household bleach solutions and 70% alcohol solutions can also be used, according to the surface. Ensure that the product isn’t past its expiration date, and never mix bleach with ammonia or other cleansers. Leave the solution on the surface for about 1 minute. Two preferred methods to make diluted household bleach are to mix:
- Five tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach/gallon of water
- Four tablespoons of bleach/quart of water
These include carpets, drapes and rugs. The CDC recommends cleaning the surfaces with soap and water, or with any appropriate cleaning products. Once done, disinfect the surfaces with an EPA-registered household disinfectant that meets their criteria of use against COVID-19.
Electronics such as touchscreens, tablets, remote controls and keyboards should be protected with a wipe-able cover when not in use. Always use manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and disinfecting such items. If no guidance is available, use a 70% alcohol-based wipe or spray to clean the surface and wipe dry thoroughly after about a minute.
This includes clothes, towels, linens and such. The CDC recommends laundering items using the warmest possible water setting and subsequently drying them completely. When handling laundry from a sick person, always wear disposable gloves. It is not essential to wash their laundry separately, but it is advised not to shake dirty laundry from an infected person. Laundry baskets should be cleaned and disinfected as described above, and hands should be washed immediately after removing gloves.
A precaution that is being stressed upon since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak is to wash your hands often, with soap and water, for a minimum of 20 seconds. It is recommended to wash hands immediately after these activities: removing gloves, being in contact with a sick person, blowing nose, sneezing or coughing, using the bathroom, preparing food and eating, and touching animals or pets. It is also advised to wash your hands before assisting a child or the elderly.
If soap and water are not available and there is no apparent dirt on the hands, hand sanitizers containing at least 60% alcohol are what the CDC recommends. If hands are not washed or sanitized, avoid touching your face to prevent the possibility of infecting yourself with the virus.
Cleaning the House when Someone is Sick
If someone falls sick with COVID-19, it is recommended to isolate them in a separate room in the house, preferably with a separate bathroom. Only clean and disinfect the area around the sick individual when needed, limiting your contact and exposure. If the sick individual feels up to it, they can be provided with personal cleaning supplies, such as tissues, EPA-approved cleaners and paper towels, to clean their space. If a bathroom is being shared, it should preferably be disinfected after every use. However, to keep exposure at a minimum, a caregiver can wait for as long as possible to clean the bathroom, until it is unavoidable.
Food Items and Trash
The sick individual should be given food separately in their own room, if possible. Dishes, silverware and utensils should be washed with warm water while wearing gloves. For discarding trash, the CDC recommends using a dedicated lined trash can for the sick individual. Always use gloves when handling and disposing trash, and thoroughly wash hands afterwards.