How to … clean your home after COVID-19

My family has always been quite lax when it comes to cleanliness and tidiness. Some would call us minimalists when it comes to heavy disinfectants and bleach. But when the pandemic spread to Australia, we – along with many other families – became hygiene experts overnight. Both homebrewed and bought disinfectants can be found in every room, ready to strike if someone so much as sniffles. Who would have thought that disinfecting door handles and tins of food would become a daily activity?

“Inadequate cleaning of your home during and after a pandemic could put yours and others health at risk,” Huy Hoang, operations director at Simply Maid, tells Domain. “Contagious viruses such as influenza, whooping cough and COVID-19 spread aggressively within confined spaces … Simple things like washing a teacup used by an ill person could contaminate the sink, faucet, and surrounding area if not cleaned properly.”

With the health of you and those around you on the line, it’s time for a deep clean.

How to ‘deep clean’
To ensure that your home is a COVID-free zone, you’ll need to disinfect, not just clean. Cleaning doesn’t kill germs but can reduce their numbers by removing germs and dirt from surfaces. Disinfecting, on the other hand, refers to killing germs on surfaces using chemicals. It’s important to note that this doesn’t necessarily remove these germs or clean away dirt, but it does stop them from being harmful and reduces the chance of them spreading. A combination of both is important.

Antibacterials won’t work
COVID is a virus, not a bacterium, so straight antibacterial cleaners won’t kill it. However, don’t toss your antibacterial products aside just yet, some of them also contain disinfectants, you’ll need to read the product description. CHOICE notes that the virus can live on surfaces for up to nine days. In order to kill them you’ll need to expose them to an effective disinfectant for a minute.

“Studies show that disinfectant products containing at least 62-71 per cent ethanol, 0.5 per cent accelerated hydrogen peroxide or 0.1 per cent sodium hypochlorite can remove a virus within one minute,” notes CHOICE.

To properly tackle the virus, you’ll need to first clean with a detergent and water mix, and then disinfect the surface. Use an alcohol-based disinfectant with at least 70 per cent alcohol, or a bleach-based product. 

Where to clean
Dr Ryan Harvey, clinical director at House Call Doctor, notes that the places most likely to harbour the virus are those on which we leave bodily fluids. This could be your TV remotes, phones, door handles and wet areas such as the bathroom and kitchen. ‘Deep cleaning’ means getting into all the nooks and crannies, be they taps and handles around your sinks and in your shower, or wiping down all the touch screens, remotes and light switches in your home. Don’t forget to clean down walls or windows that may have contact with particles and droplets.

Clean your tools
If you’re using reusable wipes or cloths, it’s important to disinfect them regularly, or else you may be spreading germs around the house with them. Soak them in a hot disinfectant mix between uses. 

Just because restrictions may be lifting, it doesn’t mean that COVID-19 is ‘over’. In fact, the spread of the virus may well increase as isolation is lifted. Maintain good basic hygiene such as sanitising your hands and covering your mouth to help prevent the spread of the virus.

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Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

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