As countries begin to relax lockdown restrictions and cities like Sydney and Perth begin to reopen, people all over the world are trying to figure out the best ways to adjust to the ‘new normal’ while keeping the two most important factors in mind – how to prevent getting coronavirus, and how to keep your home safe from contamination. In fact, with more people going back to work and being able to move around in public more freely, the need to exercise extreme caution for one’s own safety from the virus is imperative. On top of this, there may be skeptics out there who aren’t taking the situation as seriously as they should be (in spite of the virus still spreading), thus adding to the reasons why you should.
For those of you who have been staying home, practicing social distancing, and taking other precautions since the COVID-19 outbreak, the fear of going back to work and/or being in the presence of other people can be quite overwhelming. It’s even worse if you live in Melbourne where the city is back in lockdown due to a recent virus outbreak. Nevertheless, as stressful as it may be, it’s time we all accept this precarious reality and continue to live our lives as “normally” and safely as possible.
With that, here are some key precautions to take post-quarantine/lockdown to ensure that you are keeping your family and home safe while the coronavirus continues to spread. Read on.
What to Do When You Come Home
Whether you’ve come home from work or running errands, chances are that you’ve been in contact with a couple of people and/or crossed paths with strangers at some point. So, what are the precautionary measures one should take after coming home during this global pandemic?
Here’s a step-by-step guide to follow:
- Before you get out of the car, touch the house key, or any part of your front door, sanitise your hands. Killing bacteria on your hands will give you the peace of mind that you will not be contaminating anything that you touch once inside the house.
- Keep a disinfectant spray at the entrance of your house that you can use to sanitise your shoes before you walk in. Even with this precautionary measure in place, it’s a good idea to slip into a pair of bathroom slippers and leave your footwear on a shoe rack by the door.
- Keep a basket or large bag by the door for your mask, jacket, bag, and any other items carried in. Take this to your bedroom where you can undress and place the used clothes inside.
- Walk right into the shower and wash up properly. Showering with warm water and lathered soap is an ideal way to kill off bacteria from your body. Although there is not enough evidence to prove whether the coronavirus can live on your hair, if someone with unsanitised hands has touched your hair or sneezed/coughed in close proximity to you, it is advisable to give it a wash.
- After you shower, attend to the items in your ‘potentially’ contaminated basket/bag. Take used clothes and put them in the washer or hamper. Avoid shaking the fabrics to minimise the risk of dispersing any potential virus into the air. Clothes worn in a public place can be washed normally, however, using the hottest cycle tolerable for the fabrics in question is recommended to kill germs effectively. If your face mask is not washable, simply spray it with an antibacterial fabric spray, along with your bag/purse. An EPA-registered disinfectant spray can be used to sterilise other items you may have used out in public such as sunglasses, a watch, etc.
- Keep the basket/bag covered until it is needed the next time around. Sanitise at least once a week and reuse it.
IMPORTANT: Always wear gloves when cleaning or dealing with potentially contaminated objects/surfaces during a virus outbreak. Discard disposable gloves after using them and sanitise reusable gloves immediately after. Wash your hands thoroughly after taking off gloves.
Clean and Sterilise Bathroom Surfaces
One of the easiest and fastest ways to disinfect bathroom surfaces is with the help of a handheld steam cleaner. It can be used to disinfect virtually any inanimate object and surface (except electronics) and therefore, is suitable for sterilising bathroom surfaces on a daily basis. If you don’t have one, consider investing in a high-quality steam cleaner during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of course, if you don’t intend on purchasing one in the near future, you can stick to the regular routine of cleaning your bathroom with a few additional things in mind for thorough disinfection.
Here’s are some useful tips on how to disinfect a bathroom:
- Firstly, you will need to clean each surface to remove dirt and grime before sanitising. For this, regular bathroom cleaning will suffice.
- Use EPA-registered bathroom disinfectants, and clean/sterilised cleaning tools such as scrubbers, cloths, brushes, and sponges.
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces first – doorknob/handle, taps, shower door/curtain, flush pull/button, medicine cabinet door, and bathroom fittings.
- Use a generous amount of the disinfectant to sterilise your sink, toilet seat, and lid. Always use separate cleaning tools on these surfaces.
- When using any type of disinfectant, remember that the solution must sit on a surface for a few minutes before water rinses it off as they do not kill bacteria instantly.
- Wash and sanitise bathroom walls, particularly the ‘splash zone’ areas around the sink and shower as they tend to harbour germs.
Kitchen Disinfection: What You Need to Do
For obvious reasons, talks about home disinfection have skyrocketed since the coronavirus outbreak; however, taking measures to eliminate germs in the household is imperative for one’s overall health. This is especially true where your kitchen is concerned.
The same way kitchens in restaurants are made to follow strict health codes for sanitary reasons, we need to ensure that our own kitchen is not kept in a questionable condition.
During the COVID-19 pandemic and otherwise, your kitchen should be sterilised as mentioned below:
- Since we are still dealing with the novel coronavirus, it is important to purchase appropriate products to sanitise your kitchen. There are registered and approved disinfectants listed by the Environmental Protection Agency that will fight the virus effectively so be sure to check them out.
- Disinfect high-touch kitchen surfaces on a daily basis to reduce the chances of spreading germs/viruses in the house. These include the following:
- Door handles and exteriors of appliances
- Drawer and cabinet pulls
- Chair backs
- Wipe down surfaces with a clean dust cloth before sterilising with your chosen disinfectant.
- To prevent cross-contamination, replace the cleaning tool after disinfecting 2-3 surfaces and sterilise all cleaning tools after every use.
- Wash dishes using hot water and dish soap. Clean and sanitise the sink thereafter.
- Vacuum and sterilise the floor at least 3 times a week. The use of a vacuum cleaner over a broom is advised to prevent cross-contamination from room to room.
- Sanitise your hands before and during food preparation as other surfaces are likely to be touched as you go about cooking a meal.
Disinfecting the Rest of the House
In a home with kids and/or elderly individuals, the importance of disinfecting the rest of your house is even greater. Moreover, households with more members run the risk of potential viruses lurking around because there is a higher number of people re-entering the house. This also means more people touching surfaces that are harbouring germs and spreading them around. As exaggerated as it sounds, bear in mind that there are different ways in which the coronavirus can be spread, this includes transmission via contaminated surfaces.
With that in mind, home disinfection by a professional cleaning service is highly recommended to ensure that any potential viruses in your house are eliminated. On the other hand, one can disinfect their home using the tips below:
- Make a list of all high-touch surfaces in each room of your house and stock up on cleaning cloths and EPA-registered disinfectants. Ask family members to pitch in and disinfect frequently-touched surfaces and objects in your home as often as possible, if not daily.
- Wash/disinfect bedroom upholstery more often; this includes bed linen, curtains, and upholstered chairs/seats.
- Once a week, steam clean porous surfaces such as sofas, rugs, and cushioned chairs. Alternatively, you can use a fabric disinfectant spray to sanitise upholstery (leave them overnight to dry completely).
- Alcohol-based wipes are recommended for sterilising electronics in your home including remotes, phones, keyboards, and gaming consoles.
- Make it a rule to sanitise hands before touching anything in the kitchen and bedroom; this keeps the spreading of germs to a minimum.
- Clean your entryway flooring every day by vacuuming and mopping. Clean the rest of the floor in your home at least 3 times a week.
The act of leaving nothing to chance is your best bet in keeping your home safe from COVID-19 and other viruses. These are scary, uncertain times but if we all do our part in following safety protocols, together we will ensure that our homes, loved ones, and selves remain free from the novel coronavirus.