It would be so great if we could simply close our front doors and stay safe from the Coronavirus. Unfortunately, that isn’t how things work, and we need to learn the most effective ways of keeping ourselves — and our homes — germ-free.
Social distancing, following stay-at-home orders and self-quarantine all have their own unique set of challenges; however, we also have real-life needs and concerns. There are good reasons for leaving the safety of our homes — things like shopping for food and medication, getting outside for much-needed exercise and sun, taking care of pets, or helping loved ones.
The problem with going outside is what we carry back into the house with us. Here are the necessary products and protocols we can use to navigate a germ-filled world.
Keep Hands Clean and Away from the Face
Hands spread germs. By keeping our hands clean and away from our faces, we dramatically reduce the risk of getting the Coronavirus.
Washing Hands with Soapy Water Is the Gold Standard for Removing Germs
The CDC recommends washing hands with soap and water whenever possible because hand washing reduces the amount of all types of germs and chemicals.
- Wash hands after coming in contact with others or handling things from outside the home.
- Wash hands after a cough, sneeze, touching the face, using the restroom, or leaving one place for another.
- Wash hands immediately upon returning home.
Sanitize When You Can’t Wash with Soap and Water
Soap and water are actually more effective than alcohol-based hand sanitizers. If soap and water are not available, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can help you avoid getting sick and spreading germs. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers quickly reduce the number of microbes on hands, but sanitizers do not eliminate all types of germs. Use hand sanitizers when you can’t wash with soap and water.
Important Reminder – Dry, cracked skin becomes vulnerable to all kinds of infections; so after you wash, apply some moisturizer to your hands to keep them from drying out.
Cleaning and Disinfecting in Our Homes are Two Very Things
Cleaning is about removing contaminants from a surface. Disinfecting is about killing pathogens.
The CDC recommends we all do a bit of both, even if nobody in our home is sick.
We should clean and disinfect high touch surfaces daily, especially if anything or anyone has entered or exited our home. The CDC recommends daily disinfection for all frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, countertops, cell phones, keyboards, faucets, and toilet handles. Remember the surfaces in your car if you go out!
- Clean surfaces removing any contaminants, dust, or debris. You can do this by wiping surfaces with soapy water or a cleaning spray before disinfecting.
- Disinfect surfaces using chemicals to kill germs.This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces (or remove bacteria) but kills germs, thereby, lowering the risk of spreading infection. The quickest and easiest way to do this is with disinfecting wipes or a disinfectant spray. Be sure to let disinfectant sit on surfaces for 20 seconds before wiping to make sure it has the proper amount of time to kill germs.
Try to wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and dispose of after use. Should you use a pair of reusable gloves, dedicated them to only cleaning and disinfecting surfaces for COVID-19 and NOT for other purposes. Clean your hands immediately after removing gloves.
Important Reminder – Many cleaning and disinfecting products can release chemicals that contribute to respiratory problems. Indoor air pollution is a contributing factor to respiratory diseases and allergies, including COPD, pneumonia, and asthma. We need to be smart with our chemical disinfectants to stay safe and limit environmental pollutants. The protocol of cleaning first, followed by disinfecting, can help manage the use of chemicals in our homes to keep us safe and well.
If we all follow these simple steps, we may just help shorten this pandemic. So, remember:
- Stay at home unless engaging in essential activity;
- Keep your hands away from your face;
- Wash hands with soap and water when able, otherwise, use 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer; and
- Clean high-touch home surfaces before disinfecting.