How to Deep Clean and Disinfect
Your Home for Coronavirus

1

Disinfect High Touch Surfaces

Disinfect High Touch SurfacesAccording to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the COVID-19 virus may remain viable on surfaces for as much as nine days, perhaps even longer. So to keep your home safe, it is imperative that you thoroughly clean and disinfect areas that are frequently touched or used around the house.

High touch items include tables, chairs, doorknobs, light switches, lamps, countertops, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks and more. Anything that you use on a daily basis, often multiple times a day.

What should you use to decontaminate these areas? Start with soap and water.

Start with soap and waterWhile you may think of soap as gently soothes and washes your skin, it is in fact the single best line of defense against all forms of bacteria and viruses – including COVID-19. Soap and warm water are more effective at removing these kinds of germs than hand sanitizers.

As the NY Times recently noted, soap has a hybrid structure made up of pin-shaped molecules, with one end bonding to water and the other end repelling it.

Coronavirus, like other pathogens, are wrapped in lipid membranes that contain important proteins that allow viruses to infect cells and keep the bacteria alive. When you wash your hands with soap and water, you surround the virus on your skin with soap molecules. The end of the molecules that repel water end up wedging themselves into the lipid membranes of viruses, interferes with the fats in the virus shell and tears them apart. The destroyed virus is then rinsed off by warm water.

This is why it is so important to wash your hands with soap and water several times a day. Even if you were to come into contact with the coronavirus sometime during the day, if you wash your hands thoroughly, and don’t touch your face before you do, you should still be safe from infection.

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Bleach or cleaning solution

Bleach or cleaning solutionOnce you’ve wiped down the surface (and your hands) with soap and warm water, a good way to thoroughly disinfect high touch surfaces is to use bleach or a cleaner with 70 percent alcohol.

According to the CDC, one formula for preparing a safe bleach solution is by mixing 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water.

The active ingredient in bleach – sodium hypochlorite – is very effective at killing the virus. The bleach works by destroying the protein and what’s known as the ribonucleic acid (RNA) of the virus – the substance that gives the blueprint for making more virus particles when you become infected. Make sure you leave the bleach to work for at least 15 minutes then give the surface a wipe with a clean cloth.

However, if the surface you are cleaning had dirt, oils or grime on it prior to using bleach, the dirt will simply serve as an umbrella for the virus – shielding it from the bleach. That is why you should always start with soap and water, to make sure all the dirt, dust and grime is removed before applying any other agent.

Be sure to wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, and safely throw away the gloves once you are finished. That way no viruses can be transferred from the surface you are cleaning to your skin. If you do not have, or cannot find, any disposal medical gloves, you can use reusable gloves but should still discard them once you are finished decontaminating your entire home.

Be sure that the bleach or compound you are using is not past its expiration date, and never, ever mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. This combination can be deadly, especially if the room is not well ventilated.

Always read the labels, directions and warnings of any cleaning agent you decide to use. Never use any product that is past its expiration date. Always follow the directions, including how long the surface needs to remain wet and how many applications are needed. And make sure you are using a cleaning product that is specifically designed to kill or remove bacteria and viruses. Most over-the-counter cleaning products should have some kind of disclaimer such as “EPA certified” and “kills 99% of viruses.”

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Surface wipes

Surface wipesFinally, household surface wipes can be used to finish off the high touch surfaces. The active ingredient in surface wipes in an antiseptic – usually benzalkonium chloride – and they work by physically removing germs from the surface through the pressure you apply when you use them, which forces the germs or bacteria to attach to the wipe. The wipes also leave a layer of the antiseptic behind on the surface to temporarily prevent new contamination.

Also, when you break out the antiseptic wipes, don’t forget your electronic devices such as your smartphone, tablet, remote controls or keyboards. For most Americans, these are used several times per day, often for long periods of time.

It is extremely important to remember that there is no scientific evidence that surface wipes kill the coronavirus the way soap and bleach do. Wipes only remove the virus, placing it on the wipes which are then (hopefully) quickly disposed of.

4

Clear the air

Clear the airIt is currently unknown just how long the air inside a room occupied by a person confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 remains potentially dangerous. This is simply because health experts and scientists are still learning about this new coronavirus, and there is yet to be a way to determine how long COVID-19 can survive in the air on its own.

An infected person will produce thousands of tiny droplets that contain the virus every time they cough. So anyone that is infected by the coronavirus that is occupying a room in a home for an extended period of time will severely contaminate not just the air in the room, but in the entire house.

So be sure to always open a window as often as you can if you suspect that you or someone else who has been in your home has been infected. This will significantly remove the infected droplets and viruses in the air and greatly reduce the risk of further infection. The more ventilation, the shorter the amount of time it will take for infected respiratory droplets to be removed from the air.

Along these lines, be sure to check the ventilation system in your home to make certain it is in proper working order, and that the exhaust vents are clean and unblocked. Also, make sure dirty air filters are replaced and properly disposed of. When cleaning ducts, vents or filters, always use disposable gloves and an effective facemask, and throw away the gloves, mask and any other contaminants immediately once you are finished.

If someone who has been infected with COVID-19 has been staying in a room with little or no ventilation or windows, seal off the room as much as possible and leave the clean up to a professional decontamination company.

5

Do your laundry

Do your laundryHard surfaces aren’t the only high touch places you can find the coronavirus lurking. Your clothes, towels, bed linens and just about any other fabric are not hotbeds of viruses and bacteria, especially if they are used by more than one person.

This is why it’s very important that you wash your clothes more than you usually would during the coronavirus outbreak. If you have been outside your home and feel that it’s possible you have been exposed by COVID-19, for instance, if someone standing too close to you coughs or appears to be ill, get your clothes in the washing machine the second you get home and wash your hands when you’re done.

The higher the temperature you wash your clothes the more likely you are to kill off the COVID-19 virus. So use the warmest possible appropriate water setting for the items, in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, and dry them thoroughly. Researchers believe the virus is eradicated by washing your clothes over 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you do not own a washing machine or dryer at home, a local laundromat is perfectly acceptable provided you take the necessary precautions. These generally include protective measures such as washing your hands, not touching your face and disinfecting all surfaces of the machines you use. Of course, maintaining safe social distancing (at least six feet apart) from other laundromat customers is critically important as well.

No matter where you wash your clothes and other items, wear disposable gloves when handling the dirty laundry, no matter how unlikely you believe it is that they have been infected. After throwing away the gloves, clean your hands immediately with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

6

Wash your hands constantly when cleaning

 Wash your hands constantly when cleaningAs we have been saying throughout this article, no matter what you are doing, or how you are cleaning and disinfecting your home, always be sure to wash your hands throughout the day.

Whether you are cleaning high touch surfaces, doing your laundry, or ventilating your home, you are likely attracting the virus to your hands. Considering most people tend to touch their face (some without even realizing it), it is imperative that you wash your hands before and after everything you do to decontaminate your home.

As mentioned previously, standard soap and warm water is the best way to clean your hands. Even though there has been a consumer run on alcohol-based hand sanitizers, these sanitizers by themselves don’t kill all types of germs, including coronavirus. This is especially true if your hands are dirty or greasy.

Dirt can cover the virus, and protect it from whatever sanitizer you are using. Applying hand sanitizer over dirty hands does nothing to remove the coronavirus or any other kind of virus or bacteria. If anything, it helps seal the virus in place on your hands. If you apply hand sanitizer after cleaning your hands, do not rinse or wipe it off before it’s dry, as it may not work as well against germs. Be sure that if you do use a hand sanitizer, it contains at least 60% alcohol.

But remember that thoroughly washing the entirety of your hands using soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds is the only way to be sure you’ve removed the virus from your skin.

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Better to be safe than sorry

Better to be safe than sorryThese are all the things you can do to lower your risk of contracting COVID-19 while you stay at home and practice safe distancing during this remarkable crisis. However, if you or someone in your household has been infected with the coronavirus, and have been self-quarantining inside your home, you might want to take additional measures once you or your family member have recovered.

After all, it’s one thing if you suspect the virus may have been carried into your home and quite another knowing an infected person is living or working with you for as long as three or four weeks. Considering how relatively little we know about the new coronavirus, the only way to be sure a home is fully decontaminated is to call a licensed professional.

After all, it’s one thing if you suspect the virus may have been carried into your home and quite another knowing an infected person is living or working with you for as long as three or four weeks. Considering how relatively little we know about the new coronavirus, the only way to be sure a home is fully decontaminated is to call a licensed professional.

In fact, if you are thinking of selling your home in the near future, having a licensed expert conduct a thorough decontamination and disposal effort might be the only way to ease any concern from potential buyers.

If you are interested in learning more, or would like a free consultation about disinfecting your home or office, give us a call today.

If you are interested in learning more, or would like a free consultation about disinfecting your home or office, give us a call today.

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