How to Properly Disinfect Communal Areas of Your Home

Keeping your home clean is always important, but perhaps now more than ever it’s extremely vital that you keep the most important common areas of your home disinfected and free from bacteria and viruses. With the COVID-19 pandemic spreading rapidly, there’s no such thing as an unnecessary precaution, particularly if someone who is at an elevated risk for complications lives in your home. This is why it’s important to make sure you’re focusing extra closely on your cleaning and sanitation needs, especially in common areas.

Here are some tips for how to properly clean and disinfect some of the highest-traffic areas in your home, including some of the most sensitive surfaces, so you can be more confident that your home is as low-risk as possible.

Focus on High-Touch Surfaces

High-touch surfaces are things that people in your home touch or handle often. Some prime examples include dishes, tv remote controls, keyboards and mice, video game controllers, and other things that are constantly in and out of hands. They don’t always have to be movable either—toilet handles, doorknobs, shower handles, and plenty of other permanently affixed features can receive a lot of touch traffic every single day.

According to the CDC, these surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected regularly, using a disinfecting product like an alcohol-based wipe or spray that is at least 70% alcohol by concentration. Dry each surface thoroughly to prevent pooling and possible damage to them. For things like electronic touch screens, look for specialized electronic wipes that are designed for these sensitive electronics. However, make sure they are anti-bacterial, as those that are not do not help you in the battle against sickness.

Hard Surface Cleaning Tips

Hard surfaces are found all over your home: countertops, desktops, hard floors, tables, hard-backed chairs, light switches, and so many more are all things that should be disinfected with an antibacterial cleaning product once every week. For homes where someone in the home has fallen ill, including those showing signs of COVID-19, any surface they come in contact with should be disinfected on an as-needed basis, including daily disinfecting treatments if necessary.

Hard surfaces should always be cleaned thoroughly prior to disinfecting—dirt and other debris on a surface can prevent the disinfecting treatment from working to its full potential, so use a detergent or soap and water to scrub the surface before hitting it with a disinfecting spray or wipe. Alternatively, if your surface won’t discolor or damage, you may want to consider using a splash of bleach. Allow the bleach to sit for at least one minute and always bleach surfaces in a well-ventilated area.

Soft Surface Cleaning Tips

Soft surfaces are any surface that can absorb liquids, such as carpets, drapes, rugs, and upholstery on furniture. Sometimes the dirt and grime can be difficult to see on these surfaces, however, the CDC recommends removing any visible contamination that is present before disinfecting. For the actual disinfecting, the CDC recommends using a product that is EPA-approved for use against the COVID-19 virus. The list of products grows by the day, and there’s a good chance you might either already have one in your home, or be able to find one at a local market.

Electronic Cleaning Tips

Electronics need to be handled with care, and yet they’re some of the most high-traffic devices we have in our homes. In fact, the screen on your smartphone more than likely has a higher bacteria count than the floor in your shower or even your toilet seat. It’s a stat that surprises many people, but is in fact completely true. Check with the manufacturer of your electronic product for cleaning tips, as they often can advise you on things that are safe to use and things that you should avoid. If no manufacturer guide is available, the CDC recommends using an alcohol-based wipe or spray with at least 70% alcohol to disinfect your touch screens. Dry all electronic surfaces thoroughly to avoid pooling of liquids.

Linens, Clothing & Laundry Items

Laundry is in contact with us for hours and hours each day, including when we go outside and venture out into the world where infection chances are greater. That means you need to take some extra precautions whenever handling dirty clothes during this time. In fact, the CDC recommends using disposable gloves to handle dirty laundry, particularly if someone in your home is ill. The CDC also recommends you avoid shaking dirty laundry to avoid disturbing any virus cells and allowing them to escape into the air.

However, there aren’t really any special procedures when it comes to cleaning laundry. In fact, the CDC also recommends laundering an ill person’s clothes with the rest of the family’s laundry. The soap and warm water from the laundry cycle will properly disinfect everyone’s clothes, making them safe to wear. Launder items using the warmest setting appropriate, and always dry items completely before wearing them. If you do have a sick person in your home, disinfect any laundry hampers after use, and consider placing a liner bag in the hamper that can be either thrown away or laundered as well to prevent the virus from sticking to the surface of the hamper.

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