The other day I was checking in with my friend Lisa (on the phone of course), and we started talking about how we are each approaching disinfecting and sanitizing our houses through this crisis. Lisa is a natural at keeping a spotless and organized house, me on the other hand, not so much. After the call, I started doing the thing I am good at, research. I went down a rabbit whole and learned more about how the virus is transferred, effective cleaning methods for keeping it out of your house, and where it might live.
My big takeaway from all the research was learning that cleaning and disinfecting are two distinctly separate steps. According the to CDC, “If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.” This might be obvious to some of you, but I will often spray a messy counter with Lysol, wipe it down clean and assume it’s clean and disinfected. Apparently not.
- Cleaning* refers to the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. Cleaning does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
- Disinfecting* refers to using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection. *from the CDC website
Also interesting for me was the realization that not every cleaner I thought was a disinfectant actually is! I’ve been using a Lysol spray all around my kitchen that is just an all-purpose cleaner not a disinfectant for days. Read the labels and do some research on your products, and if possible, get your hands on some bleach.
9 Things You Should be Disinfecting Daily (or More)
While I’m sure that we are probably all cleaning our houses obsessively at this time, there are a few places on this list that you might have missed. This is my daily disinfecting list, what’s on yours?
1. Fixtures (light switches, doorknobs, railings etc)
Cleaning the front door knob and light switches is a given, but what else do you and your family touch while you walk around the house? I watched my mom go up the stairs yesterday and realized I haven’t been disinfecting the banister enough. Take a few minutes to walk around today and see what spots in your house are most touched. (I also missed the switch for the fireplace in my earlier routine).
2. Taps and toilet flushes
Did you know, bathroom taps sometimes carry more germs than the toilet? I won’t share anymore of my disgusting findings, just a little reminder – anywhere in your house where there is a tap, disinfect. Also, remind family members to give the toilet flushes a clean throughout the day.
2. Remote controls & video game controllers
Let’s be honest, we are all spending a lot of time watching TV right now, and the kids are having Nintendo marathons like nobody’s business. Give those remotes a little sanitation break once or twice a day!
If you ever want to really gross yourself out, read up on the number of germs your cellphone is covered in. For our purposes today, I’ll just say this, clean your phone multiple times a day. It is kind of like your third hand, and we all know how important it is to wash our hands these days.
Full disclosure, I had totally forgotten about laptop sanitization until I stared really digging into the coronavirus research. How could I miss something so obvious! Clean your keyboard kids, with all of it’s little crevices, germs have a lot of places to hide.
5. Steering Wheel (and door handles, gear shift, etc)
If you do have to go out of the house, wipe down the door handles, steering wheel, gear shift, and any other surfaces on your dashboard that you might touch. Basically treat the inside of your car how you are treating your house – if your fingers touch it, disinfect it.
6. Purse & wallet
So, personally, I’ve been leaving my purse at home and just carrying my driver’s licence and one debit card if I have to go to the store. However, if you took your purse with you, you might have touched any number of things and then reached for it. Not trying to freak you out, but remember, we don’t know how long and which surfaces the virus can live on. When it comes to purses, check your manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning, and be extra careful with bleach.
7. Any clothes worn outside
The outer layer of clothes you wore outside should be put into the washing machine as soon as you get home. Try wearing a jacket that can be easily wiped down also, and don’t forget to wipe the bottom of your shoes.
I know this is really time consuming, but it’s a good idea to wipe down the outside of any boxes and cans you get from the grocery store before putting them away. And as always, make sure you are washing fruits and vegetables thoroughly before using them.
9. Packages or deliveries
Just the same as your groceries, make sure you wipe down anything that is delivered. Better yet, open boxes outside the house and put the packaging directly into the recycling or garbage if possible. And then don’t forget to wash your hands!
I know this amount of cleaning and disinfecting might seem overwhelming, but keeping our spaces clean and disinfected is one of the best ways to fight this invisible enemy.