Keeping a home clean is important anytime, but cleaning and disinfecting following a COVID-19 diagnosis helps reduce risk to others.
For many people, it’s second nature to dust furniture, vacuum the carpet and wipe down surfaces during normal household chores, said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Extension housing and consumer specialist. More steps are needed now, and the details are important.
“If someone in your home has been diagnosed with and is recovering or is now recovered from COVID-19, clean as you normally would then disinfect to further reduce risk,” Peek said. “It’s important to know the difference between cleaning and disinfecting.”
Cleaning with soap and water reduces germs, dirt and impurities on surfaces. Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces. Peek said to practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, tables, light switches, phones, computer keyboards, toilets and faucets.
“Stores are beginning to get more cleaning products on the shelves, but some products can still be hard to find,” she said. “If you’re having trouble finding your favorite products, you can always use a diluted household bleach solution if appropriate for the surface. Check the label on the bleach to make sure it contains 5.25%-8.25% sodium hypochlorite. Four teaspoons of bleach per quart of water makes a good amount of disinfecting solution.”
Be sure to wear reusable or disposable gloves, and make sure there is adequate ventilation in the room. Follow the directions on the label to ensure safe and effective use of products. Peek said disinfecting solution works best when sprayed on surfaces and left for at least one minute before wiping it off. Disinfect high-touch surfaces such as tables, light switches, doorknobs, faucets and toilets frequently.
When doing the laundry of someone with COVID or who has recovered, wash according to manufacturer’s directions and dry completely.
“It’s a good idea to wear disposable gloves when handling any bedding or clothing items of an infected person. These items can be washed with other people’s items,” Peek said. “Be sure to clean and disinfect clothes hampers. Once the laundry is in the washing machine, remove the gloves and throw them away.”
Keeping hands clean is one of the best ways to avoid spreading germs. Always wash hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water after nose-blowing, coughing or sneezing. Other key times to wash hands include after using the restroom, after contact with a person who is sick, before eating or preparing food and after contact with animals or other pets. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
“We’re continuing to see an increase of COVID-19 cases, so it’s important for everyone to take the necessary steps to cut down the spread of the virus,” Peek said.
More COVID-19 information is available from OSU Extension.