Unless you’ve been stranded on an uninhabited island, you’ve probably heard about the new strain of coronavirus that’s been wreaking havoc all around the world, causing deaths, limitations and all kinds of inconveniences for billions of people in the last few months. Covid-19 is mainly transmitted from person to person via touch or tiny droplets of saliva and other bodily fluids that float around us while we walk, talk or couch and sneeze. Contaminated objects and surfaces can also transmit the disease, which is why cleaning and proper disinfecting of your home and work premises is extremely important these days. Here is some useful information on this new danger, and tips on how to clean your home effectively to limit the spread.
What is Coronavirus?
A coronavirus is a common type of virus, which causes an infection in the upper throat or the nose and sinuses. Most coronaviruses are harmless and resemble a simple cold. However, after the December 2019 outbreak in China, the World Health Organisation identified a new type of coronavirus in early 2020. They officially named it severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (in short SARS-CoV-2), and this is the virus known to cause Covid-19. Health professionals also often call the disease a respiratory tract infection, because it can affect both the upper and lower respiratory tracts, causing respiratory distress and bilateral pneumonia. Covid-19 spreads very quickly, and the infections vary from mild to severe ones, depending on the overall health condition of the person.
The Difference Between Cleaning and Disinfecting
Since the disease spreads through human contact, maintaining impeccable personal hygiene is extremely important. Regular hand washing, changing and cleaning your clothes after wearing them in public and proper cleaning and disinfecting your home and work premises can help in the protection against it. In these times, it’s vital to make a distinction between cleaning and disinfecting. Cleaning is the process of removing organic matter from surfaces, such as dirt, dust or germs. The process of disinfection means to use chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. Both processes are equally important, because the presence of dirt on a surface reduce the disinfectant’s ability to kill the germs effectively.
How Long Can Coronavirus Survive on Surfaces
Information on that changes constantly, because the virus is new and studies continue tirelessly, revealing new information each day. Initially, the World Health Organisation website advised that the coronavirus is only able to survive a few hours on surfaces. But recently Medrxiv (an online medical archive), published a study which proves that the virus can survive on plastic and metal surfaces up to 72 hours, which changes everything, and the literature on the WHO website was updated. According to health professionals, the survival rate of the virus depends on the humidity, temperature and the material of the surface.
Which Home Surfaces Could Be Contaminated
It’s difficult to foresee that, because every surface could be contaminated, it all depends on the movements and actions of the person carrying the pathogen. For instance, if someone coughs or sneezes without covering their mouth properly, all the closest surfaces would be contaminated. Hands are also responsible for spreading pathogens to surfaces and other people, so all kinds of items we touch frequently can carry the disease. Such household items are computer keyboards, TV remotes, door handles, kitchen surfaces and cupboards, fridge doors, phones and many more. We need to pay extra attention to these and disinfect them daily at least until the danger passes.
Deep Cleaning Tips During a Virus Outbreak
With the quick spread of the virus, the search for disinfecting services among businesses and household has grown significantly in the last few months. This increase in demand has prompted EPA to release a detailed list of disinfectants the public can use to assist them in the battle against the disease.
The Australian Department of Health also released exhaustive instructions and protocols on proper disinfection in response to the Covid-19 situation. Many home maintenance companies prompted their employees to pass special trainings and receive their Infection Control Training Certificates from the Australian Government Department of Health, to be able to help with the situation and provide antiviral disinfecting services to both business and residential clients.
Since protecting yourself from Covid-19 starts from the home, it’s recommended to create a strict cleaning schedule along with regular disinfection of the most commonly used surfaces. While cleaning is something we all do, most people are not used to disinfecting their homes, so this is new territory for many people.
After a thorough cleaning of the entire property, you’ll need to disinfect the surfaces as well. For all hard surfaces, you can use a hospital-grade bleach detergent or a solution with at least 70% isopropyl alcohol. Avoid using bleach on electrical devices, as it can cause irreversible damage. Even though this won’t guarantee the obliteration of all the viruses, studies show that regular disinfection significantly lowers the number of germs and viruses on the surface, which reduces the chances of you getting it.
It’s important to note that due to the high demand and the issues with bringing overseas supplies, many manufacturers are running low on disinfectants currently. If you cannot purchase disinfecting products, you can easily make your own by mixing roughly 4 tablespoons of bleach per quart of water. Place the mixture in a spray bottle for easier application.
Tips for Disinfecting Hard and Soft Surfaces
- Always wear disposable gloves while you clean and replace them after each clean. The disinfecting products are very harsh on the skin.
- Use EPA approved or hospital grade disinfectants and always follow the instructions on the labels.
- Clean and disinfect often-touched surfaces as often as possible, especially if you go outside regularly. Such surfaces are door handles, light switches, chairs, toilets and more.
- Vacuum soft surfaces regularly and remove all visible signs of contamination timely. Deep clean them regularly, if possible.
Laundry and Clothing Items
- Avoid shaking the dirty laundry, because this could only help a virus to be dispersed in the air and spread.
- If you’re doing laundry for an infected person, always wear gloves and wash your hands in detail immediately after you remove the gloves. Using a hand sanitiser after that is also a good idea, to kill the remaining bacteria on your hands.
- Use the warmest possible temperature to wash your clothes, but be careful not to damage them. Dry the clothes thoroughly after that. Having a dryer is a big advantage in this case, because the high temperature there also kills bacteria.
- Regularly disinfect the laundry baskets using a bleach solution or a proper disinfectant.
- Don’t wear shoes inside the house and launder the curtains, carpets and rugs, if their material allows it.