How to Clean and Sterilise Your Home During a Virus Outbreak

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Now, more than ever, maintaining a germ-free home is the NEED of the hour! Along with other precautionary measures that follow protocol during a pandemic such as social distancing and good hygiene, sterilising your home on a daily basis is highly recommended by both, medical and house cleaning experts. As the old saying goes “prevention is better than cure”; however, when you are at the mercy of a global virus outbreak like COVID-19 (coronavirus) for which a cure is yet to be discovered, prevention is critically important. With that said, another popular saying comes rushing to mind – “better safe than sorry”.

By now, we all know why and how the coronavirus is spreading at a rapid pace and find ourselves doing what we can to keep our families safe from catching this highly transmissible disease. With an increasing number of cities, states, and even some countries going on lockdown, families and individuals are confined to their homes wherein the spread of bacteria is inevitable regardless of whether one is infected with a virus or not. More importantly, it should be noted that symptoms of COVID-19 are typically mild in its initial stages during which a carrier might already infect others and/or contaminate household surfaces. Even worse, some asymptomatic carriers can also spread the coronavirus days before they start experiencing symptoms. 

Therefore, the safest ways to prevent catching COVID-19 and other highly contagious viruses while you self-isolate in your home is to sterilise it every day, and practice good hygiene. 

Precautions When Cleaning

During a virus outbreak, it is essential to approach household cleaning with certain precautions in mind. In other words, you must protect yourself when working to remove germs/bacteria in order to eliminate the risk of contracting a virus. 

Here are the basic precautionary measures one must take when cleaning:

      • Wear gloves (preferably disposables) and a face mask, or simply tie a scarf around your nose and mouth.
      • Do not touch your face while cleaning 
      • After taking off the gloves, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water 
      • Avoid touching other surfaces that are not part of your immediate cleaning routine
      • Use sterilised or fresh cleaning cloths

What are High-Touch Surfaces in the Home?

In every household, there will be a list of common high-touch surfaces, as well as a couple of other areas that are unique to each home. Collectively, they are objects and surfaces that experience high-traffic by way of touch (on a daily basis) and where germs are predominantly found lingering in the home. These include the following:

      • Door knobs/handles
      • Light switches
      • Drawer handles/pulls
      • Chair backs
      • Armrests
      • Kitchen appliances
      • Refrigerator/microwave doors
      • Counters/tables where you cook and/or eat
      • Cabinet handles
      • Faucets
      • Toilet handle
      • Medicine cabinet doors
      • Staircase railings
      • Remotes 
      • Gaming consoles
      • Computers (and related items such as keyboards and the mouse)
      • Mobile phones/telephones

The above may not contain other high-touch areas in your home as this is more or less a generalised list. For example, if you have workout equipment in your home, these items can also be classified as frequently touched areas.

How to Disinfect High-Touch Household Surfaces/Areas?

Although it may be more work than you are used to doing during your daily cleaning routine, disinfecting high-touch areas around your house is incredibly easy. There are a number of products one can use for this including EPA-registered disinfectants, and homemade cleaners like diluted bleach solutions, and vinegar-based cleaners. 

How to Make Homemade Disinfectants

  1. BLEACH:
      • Mix 4-5 teaspoons of household bleach in 1 litre of water

2. VINEGAR:

      • Mix 1/2 cup white vinegar in 1 cup water

Cleaning and Disinfecting Household Surfaces 

Before using a disinfect to sanitise high-touch areas, wipe over them with a clean cloth to remove dust and debris. Now, with your chosen disinfectant (in a spray bottle), spray non-electrical surfaces and objects liberally before wiping them down with a separate clean cloth. Be thorough with each area that you are cleaning so that every angle one may touch it from is sterilised effectively. 

For electricals, simply dampen a clean cloth with the germ-fighting solution and wipe the objects thoroughly, not leaving out gaps and crevices. You can also use disposable disinfectant wipes for this. 

IMPORTANT: Use a fresh side of the cloth for every item/surface you wipe; replace the cloth with a clean one when needed. For reusable cloths, sterilise them using appropriate washing methods before cleaning with them the next day.

Sanitise Floors and Walls

If you don’t have people coming in and out of your home, sanitising your flooring and interior walls needn’t be a daily precaution during a virus outbreak. However, it is highly recommended that you clean your floor with a disinfecting product if you aren’t already doing so. As far as carpeting and rugs are concerned, steam cleaning is a surefire way of killing germs because vacuuming is only effective in removing dust and other debris. If you don’t have a steam cleaner or a place where you can rent one from, consider hiring a professional carpet cleaning service to deep clean your carpets and rugs at least once in two weeks until the outbreak subsides. Contact the company to inquire about how they are following protocol to prevent spreading the virus before you hire them. 

Germs can also be present on interior walls, particularly areas within one’s reach. This isn’t to say that higher areas of your wall cannot be contaminated with the virus because germs become airborne when one coughs or sneezes without covering their mouth and nose. Therefore, to be on the safe side, experts advise wiping down walls with a clean cloth and disinfectant at least once in ten days during a pandemic.

Combat Bathroom Germs

A microscopic look at one’s bathroom will show germs lingering in various areas apart from hotspots like faucets and the toilet; while we often go about using the bathroom without falling sick even when bacteria are present, during a pandemic such as COVID-19, fighting bathroom germs daily is imperative to keeping good health. 

To modify your bathroom cleaning routine for effective results, firstly, you will need to switch to EPA-registered cleaners that will kill germs and sanitise surfaces effectively. Secondly, you should start by wiping down high-touch areas and objects in your bathroom using your trusty disinfectant spray and a clean cloth. This includes sanitising the toilet seat, lid, and flush lever/button; use a separate cloth for the toilet seat for hygienic reasons. Next, spray the bathroom walls with the disinfectant and wipe with a scrubber before rinsing them off. 

After you have finished the initial steps to sanitising germy hotspots in your bathroom, continue to clean as you typically would. 

Wash Bedsheets, Pillowcases, and Cushion Covers Regularly

A lot of people are wondering if the coronavirus can live on fabric such as clothing and bed linen; the answer is – yes. However, this is especially true if a person has tested positive for COVID-19. In other words, it is highly unlikely for your bed linen and clothing to be contaminated unless you have been outside and not maintained an appropriate distance from people. In this case, you should wash your clothes as soon as you come home without shaking or dusting them off as this can disperse the virus into your home. 

Again, assuming that you or other household members have ventured out of the house on a few occasions during a virus outbreak, it would be wise to launder your bedsheets, pillowcases, curtains, and cushion covers weekly. This can be reduced to once in two weeks if all household members have remained indoors for 14 days as this is how long it takes for a carrier to show symptoms of COVID-19.

Is it Safe to Hire a Cleaning Service During a Pandemic?

The need for teams of professional cleaners to sterilise schools, hospitals, offices, hotels, and other buildings is growing by the day. This is no different where houses and apartments are concerned, particularly in cities and neighbourhoods where the number of reported cases of coronavirus is increasing. With that said, many homeowners who are self-isolating and practising social distancing remain skeptical of allowing anyone outside of their immediate family into their homes. While this is understandable, there are numerous house cleaning services that are strictly following protocol to safely and effectively sanitise homes including those which have/had quarantined carriers of COVID-19. 

If you are deciding to hire a home cleaning service during a pandemic, it is important to ensure that the company in question is fully geared with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and experienced in cleaning virus-ridden homes to successfully sterilise your house.

Regardless of where you live or how many people in your area have been infected by a virus outbreak, it is critically important to stay home unless absolutely necessary to head out, as well as to follow all the precautionary measures in order to prevent contracting the virus. Lastly, yet equally important, is daily cleaning and sterilising your home to keep your family and yourself healthy during a pandemic.

Karen Saunders

Content Manager at Simply Maid
Karen Saunders is a full-time Content Manager at Simply Maid. Her 8+ years of writing experience spans the fields of copywriting, sales copy, blogging, editing and paraphrasing. Some of her areas of expertise include house cleaning, health and fitness, lifestyle topics, home décor and interior designing, travel tips, dog-related articles, and product descriptions and reviews.
Karen Saunders

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