How to Keep Your Home Virus Free
As you start resuming some of your normal activities, you may be wondering how to keep your home virus-free. Here are some great tips from our infection control specialist.
Q. What do I need to clean in my house and how often?
A. The COVID-19 virus can be introduced into your body if you touch a surface where it resides, and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth. It’s therefore a good idea to daily wipe down the things you touch often in your home; especially those that you touch after being out of the house (like door handles, counters, etc.). And don’t touch your face…even at home!
Q. Do I need to wipe down my groceries when I bring them home?
A. According to the FDA, there is no evidence that food packaging is associated with the transmission of COVID-19. You can certainly wipe down all your groceries and allow them to air dry as an extra precaution. However, a more practical set of precautions would be to wash your hands when you get home, put your groceries away, clean the counter where you set your groceries, and then wash your hands again.
Q. How should I clean the high-touch surfaces in my home?
A. Most household cleaners will kill the virus from surfaces in your home if you use them correctly. Correct use is the key. Most people simply spray on and wipe off, but that doesn’t do much for infection control. Take Lysol, for example. You must thoroughly wet a surface and leave the Lysol on for at least 10 seconds to sanitize, and 10 minutes to disinfect. When you sanitize, you reduce (but don’t eliminate) the presence of a virus. When you disinfect, you kill it all. If you spray on and immediately wipe off, you’re simply cleaning, not controlling virus growth. Be sure to read the directions on the container and use the product properly.
Q. What is the best cleaner to use?
A. Any household cleaner that references “disinfecting” will work just fine, as long as you leave it on for the proper amount of time (the “contact time” in infection control lingo). The EPA has published a long list of recommended cleaners for commercial and residential use. You won’t specifically see COVID-19 as a target virus on this list, but these cleaners have been proven to kill viruses that are tougher than COVID-19. Some of the more common household cleaners that are EPA-recommended include Fantastic All-Purpose Cleaner, Soft Scrub with Bleach, The Works, Scrubbing Bubbles Bathroom Disinfectant, Comet, Clorox Multi-Surface Cleaner, Lysol and more.
Q. Do I need to take off my shoes or clothes when I come home from being out in public?
A. It is highly unlikely that you would contract COVID-19 via your clothes or shoes, for two reasons. One, we know the virus cannot live indefinitely on a non-human host. Two, the virus must enter your body through your eyes, nose or mouth. So again, keeping your hands away from your face is the best defense! See our previous post about how to clean and care for your face covering before bringing it in the house.
Q. Do I need to be concerned about passing COVID-19 to my pets?
A. Although the risk is low, it appears that the virus can spread from people to animals in some situations. The greatest risk is if someone in your household is sick with COVID-19. If that is the case, isolate that patient from all family members, including pets.