Deep cleaning a home is never easy. But it can be especially challenging when we’re in the throes of a pandemic of the kind we’ve seen caused by the COVID-19 coronavirus. The World Health Organization has previously said that the virus can live on surfaces for up to three days — that length of time can vary, and it depends on the type of surface, how hot or cold it is, and how humid or dry the air might be. But NPR reports lab tests now show that the virus can survive on plastic or stainless steel for up to 72 hours (three days), and on cardboard for up to 24 hours
NPR says it’s important to know how long the virus will survive on a surface because a person with the coronavirus can contaminate a surface if he or she coughs without covering his or her mouth. This is why the virus can be found on doorknobs, train handrails, elevator buttons, and countertops. But what researchers don’t know is how well the virus can survive and thrive on clothing, because based on prior research, infectious diseases expert Daniel Kuritzkes says “flat surfaces and hard surfaces are more friendly to viruses than cloth or rough surfaces.”
Household cleaners work against COVID-19
Household cleaning experts like Good Housekeeping say the best way to get your house germ-free is to clean household surfaces like kitchen counters, table tops, and bathrooms on a regular basis with a microfiber cloth and warm water, or spray these surfaces with distilled white vinegar and wipe it off. Following that, it’s vital then to disinfect your surfaces. British immunologist Darshna Yagnik notes, “Use a disinfectant which is alcohol-based, or use rubbing alcohol with a strength of at least 70 percent. Alternatively use household bleach containing sodium hypochlorite diluted in cold water. Both methods should kill viruses quite quickly by breaking down their cell walls.” To keep floors germ-free, Good Housekeeping also suggests to keep outdoor shoes in a specific area by the door so you don’t bring anything indoors.
It is also important to remember to use one cloth to clean and another one to disinfect, because having one piece of cloth do all the work will give the virus a chance to spread. If you use a microfiber cloth, rinsing them off in hot running water can help get rid of bacteria, so you can most certainly reuse these cloths after they’ve been laundered at the highest temperature your washing machine has.
Doing laundry if someone is sick with COVID-19
If someone at home is sick, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggests you might want to use gloves to handle his or her laundry and linens. If the gloves are not disposable, you should only use the pair to disinfect surfaces which might have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. Do not shake dirty laundry, and use the warmest settings possible to wash and dry clothes. It might seem counterintuitive, but the CDC says you can actually mix an ill person’s dirty laundry with things belonging to other persons in the house.
COVID-19 might wreak havoc on a sick person’s body, but it isn’t as difficult to kill if it doesn’t enter a host. “The good thing about COVID-19 is that it does not require any unique cleaning chemicals to disinfect hands and surfaces,” infectious disease Andrew Janowski tells NPR. Which is why everyone keeps reminding us that keeping our homes clean and washing our hands is the best deterrent against this highly infectious disease.
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