How to clean your house to kill the virus in your home

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THERE’S SOMETHING DEEPLY unsettling about stepping out of the home-from-work boredom of self-isolation into the tense, ambient panic of grocery shopping during a pandemic. Normal is a double-sided coin now. At home, things feel hyperreal, and outside they feel entirely surreal—two steps removed from the flashback scenes in a post-apocalyptic movie. You may feel tension between helping yourself and helping your community. Daily life during the novel coronavirus pandemic is all about disorienting contrasts like these.

It might seem more productive to read our Coronavirus Gear and Supplies Guide and start filling your pantry with canned goods and essentials, but cleaning and sanitizing surfaces in your home can help lower the chances you or a loved one will contract Covid-19 and lower the chances you might spread it to someone else. Keeping your home (and self) sanitized helps everyone.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends we all take steps to clean and sanitize high-touch surfaces in our homes. Below, we get into the weeds of how long the virus might last on surfaces, which disinfectants may kill it, and the steps you should take to keep clean.

To Keep Yourself Virus-Free

You’ve heard it a million times by now, and you’ll hear it a million more, but the best way to lower your risk of contracting Covid-19 (or pass it on to someone else) is to wash your hands after you cough, sneeze, touch your face, use the restroom, or are about to leave one place for another. You should wash your hands when you leave and return from the grocery store, for instance.

If you can find any, hand sanitizer also works wonders. (Here’s how to make your own.) It’s no substitute for washing your hands, though. When you’re able, home soap and water can be a little easier on your hands. It won’t necessarily kill all pathogens, but it’ll wash them away. The World Health Organization has detailed instructions (which we’ve all seen in meme form) on how to properly perform the 20-second hand wash.

It’s also important to liberally moisturize your hands. Dry, cracked skin is at greater risk for all kinds of infections, so after you wash, apply a little moisturizer. It’s nice!

Most moisturizing lotions have similar ingredients, starting with water and glycerin, so the brand doesn’t really matter.(Here are some hand lotions on Amazon.) If your hands are extra dry, look for something dermatologist recommended with an “intensive” label, like Eucerin Advanced Repair or Neutrogena Hydro Boost.

Stay Home

Even if you’re not sick, just stay home if you can. Being in large crowds or going out to restaurants poses unnecessary risks not just to yourself but to the people around you. The more you’re in public, the more chances the novel coronavirus has to hitch a ride on your hands, clothes, or person. Millions of people are very vulnerable to this virus. Putting yourself at risk also puts them at risk.

“There will be a sizable portion of people who are older, or who have other health conditions, and if they get sick all at once, they’re going to overwhelm the health care system. So we’re trying to decrease the number of transmissions,” Dr. John Townes, head of infection prevention and control at the Oregon Health & Science University, told WIRED.

Important Rules to Stay Safe: Most Popular

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  5. Stay home as much as possible, avoid large gatherings, going out to bars, restaurants, etc.
  6. Stay at least six feet away from other people in public.
  7. Again, wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds (or use hand sanitizer).
  8. If you’re coughing or sneezing, wear a protective mask.

Why You Should Avoid Face Masks (for Now)

They serve an important purpose for people who are sick or are caring for an ill person, but face masks are in short supply and needed by health care workers and those who are sick with the virus. Wearing a mask may also give you a false sense of security, causing you to put yourself at greater risk.

“You may, in fact, be touching your face more often because you’re adjusting your mask. Or you may be trying to keep your eyeglasses from fogging up, then the portal of entry might be your eye,” Townes said. “I think we need to deemphasize wearing masks in public as a strategy.”

As far as we know, the novel coronavirus is transmitted through person-to-person contact or respiratory droplets. Those droplets don’t stay suspended in the air, they fall to the ground within about six feet of the infected person.

To Keep Your Home Virus-Free

The first thing you’ll want to know is that cleaning and disinfecting are two very different things. The CDC recommends we all do a bit of both, even if nobody in your home is sick.

  1. Cleaning is about removing contaminants from a surface.
  2. Disinfecting is about killing pathogens.
  3. Do both daily if anything or anyone has entered or exited your home.

Transmission from person-to-person is a much greater risk than transmission via surfaces, but the CDC recommends we clean and disinfects high-touch surfaces in our homes at least once daily just to be safe, assuming we have had contact with the outside world in some way, either a person leaving and returning or goods coming in. Target Your Home’s High-Touch Surfaces

Researchers have found that the novel coronavirus is capable of living on surfaces such as cardboard for 24 hours, but up to two or three days on plastic and stainless steel. So disinfecting high-touch surfaces is a step we should all take.

High-Touch Surfaces to Clean and Disinfect Daily:

  1. Doorknobs
  2. Table surfaces
  3. Hard dining chairs (seat, back, and arms)
  4. Kitchen counters
  5. Bathroom counters
  6. Faucets and faucet knobs
  7. Toilets (seat and handle)
  8. Light switches
  9. TV remote controls
  10. Game controllers

Everyone’s home is a little different, so just think about the surfaces you interact with most. For me, that includes the above, plus desk surfaces and mousepads (we’ll get to gadgets in a bit). Now that you know what you’re cleaning, here’s how you should do it.

First Clean, Then Disinfect:

  1. First, clean the surfaces, removing any contaminants, dust, or debris. You can do this by wiping them with soapy water (or a cleaning spray) and a hand towel.
  2. Then apply a surface-appropriate disinfectant. The quickest and

Stay Home

Even if you’re not sick, just stay home if you can. Being in large crowds or going out to restaurants poses unnecessary risks not just to yourself but to the people around you. The more you’re in public, the more chances the novel coronavirus has to hitch a ride on your hands, clothes, or person. Millions of people are very vulnerable to this virus. Putting yourself at risk also puts them at risk.

“There will be a sizable portion of people who are older, or who have other health conditions, and if they get sick all at once, they’re going to overwhelm the health care system. So we’re trying to decrease the number of transmissions,” Dr. John Townes, head of infection prevention and control at the Oregon Health & Science University, told WIRED.

Important Rules to Stay Safe: Most Popular

  1. GEARHow to Make Your Own Hand SanitizerBOONE ASHWORTH
  2. SCIENCEChloroquine May Fight Covid-19—and Silicon Valley’s Into ItADAM ROGERS
  3. SCIENCEWhy the Coronavirus Hit Italy So HardMATT SIMON
  4. GEARHow to Clean and Disinfect Yourself, Your Home, and Your StuffJESS GREY
  5. Stay home as much as possible, avoid large gatherings, going out to bars, restaurants, etc.
  6. Stay at least six feet away from other people in public.
  7. Again, wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds (or use hand sanitizer).
  8. If you’re coughing or sneezing, wear a protective mask.
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