How to make home a coronavirus safe zone

May 01, 2020
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It’s hard to keep up with the waves of information coming in every day as scientists discover new things about the novel coronavirus.

What does the virus contaminate? What about mail? Should people wipe down groceries?

These tips follow the most recent expert advice to make home a coronavirus safe zone:

  • Clean, then disinfect. Cleaning hard surfaces such as countertops, handles, faucets and light switches removes surface dirt that could harbor the virus. Cleaning can be done with soap and water or a spray cleaner. Then use a disinfectant on the clean surface.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency has a list on its website of disinfectants that meet their criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Read the directions for each disinfectant to learn how long to leave the surface wet before wiping. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces every day, including phones, tablets, remote controls, tables and chairs.
  • Wash hands after getting the mail. There is no need to sanitize or disinfect mail, according to the CDC. While the coronavirus can survive for a short time on some surfaces, it is unlikely to be spread from domestic or international mail, products or packaging. The enter recommends people wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer, after getting their mail or bringing in a delivery.
  • Wash hands before and after unloading groceries. As with mail and packages, there is currently no evidence that grocery packaging is associated with transmission of coronavirus. Handwashing upon return home from the store, then again after groceries are unloaded and put away your groceries, is a good idea. If you are still concerned about virus transmission, the Food and Drug Administration recommends handwashing after handling food packaging, after removing food from the packaging, before you prepare food for eating and before you eat.
  • Washing your clothes like you normally do is likely enough to sanitize them. The CDC recommends laundering fabric at the warmest water temperature appropriate for the fabric, then drying completely.

Because of the focus on cleaning, many disinfectants are out of stock. If disinfecting products aren’t available, the CDC provides instructions for a homemade disinfectant that will also kill coronavirus.

Combine 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and use it to disinfect after cleaning hard surfaces. Make sure to allow proper ventilation while mixing and using, and never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.

For updates on COVID-19, check EEHealth.org/coronavirus.