Sanitise your home and stop the spreading
Updated: Dec 7, 2021
I’m sure you’re all over your head with sanitisation right now but as we’re not only in the middle of a pandemic, but also fast approaching flu season, we thought you might benefit from a simple guide, to sum up, and hopefully clarify everything we’ve been hearing so far.
During these awfully stressful times, your sweet home needs to be the safest place on Earth, but is it? Keeping your home free from the germs is not always so easy.
While person-to-person transmission of COVID-19 poses a much greater risk than transmission via surfaces, it is still recommended to clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces at least once a day, even if you’re not leaving the house. That’s because anytime items or people come in and out of your home, there’s some possibility of exposure.
A recent study found that the novel coronavirus can remain in the air for up to three hours and live on surfaces such as cardboard for up to 24 hours, and plastic and stainless steel for up to three days.
Here are a few ways to make sure you are properly cleaning and disinfecting your home and keeping your household as germ-free as possible.
The difference between cleaning and disinfecting
It’s important to note that cleaning a surface – simply removing dirt and particles – is not the same thing as disinfecting it to kill viruses and bacteria.
There are many products you can use to clean hard surfaces, like soapy water and vinegar. And while cleaning high-traffic surfaces to remove contaminants, dust and debris is a necessary step of cleaning your home, you still need to disinfect those surfaces.
Which cleaning products kill viruses?
Not all cleaning products are effective on all types of germs but you might already have some of these effective products in your home, like:
Disinfecting wipes, including Clorox, Lysol or store brand wipes
Disinfectant sprays, such as Purell, Clorox or Lysol
And while using effective virus-killing products is key, it’s also important to follow the proper techniques to thoroughly disinfect surfaces. It is advised to let the product sit and remain wet on surfaces or objects for 10 minutes to kill 99.9 per cent of germs.
Disinfecting your home
You don’t need to clean your house from top to bottom each day, but you should focus on disinfecting the areas that are hot-spots for germs. These are the most important items to disinfect every day:
Cupboard and drawer knobs/pulls
Kitchen and bathroom counters
Toilets, especially the seat and handle
Refrigerator, dishwasher, oven and microwave handles
Remote controls and game controllers
Cell phones, tablets and other mobile devices
Computer keyboards and mice
Light switches/switch plates
If possible, wear disposable gloves and discard them after disinfecting. If you have reusable gloves, be sure to disinfect them after you’re done. And always remember to wash your hands before and after you clean and disinfect your home.
Keep washing your hands
It’s been repeated countless times, but that’s because it’s true: no matter what you do, the best way to lower your risk of contracting viruses such as flu or Covid-19, or passing it to someone else is to wash your hands. Health authorities recommend a vigorous 20-second scrub with soap and water that extends beyond the hands to the wrists, between the fingers and under the fingernails.
Watch out for germy hot spots
The sink, the telephone, children's toys, and doorknobs are popular landing sites for virus and bacteria. If someone is sick at home, disinfect daily, especially the remote control and the phone. Charles Gerba, microbiologist and author of The Germ Freak's Guide to Outwitting Colds and Flu, says remote controls and countertops can be the germiest locale in the whole house. "What's the first thing you do after you call in sick? Pick up the remote control," he says. "Sixty per cent of them contain influenza virus in the home of a sick person."
In fact, Gerba says, remote controls are the germiest thing in hotel and hospital rooms. And since a virus like influenza spreads through touching something a sick person has also touched, or an object that's been sneezed on, cleaning off the places your hand usually goes is most important.
Don’t forget your laundry room
Think your washing machine is one of the cleanest places in your house? Think again. Dirty laundry can fill your washer - and future loads of laundry - with bacteria and viruses. To keep it fresh, run your washer empty with a cup of bleach once a week. To kill germs, wash and dry your laundry at the highest temperature the fabric can stand.
Really clean your towels
If only one person is using a towel, wash it once a week. Wash after each use if someone is sick.
Wash kitchen towels separately from underwear and bathroom towels.
Replace hand towels every few days, or every time you have guests.
Banish bedroom germs
Wash all bed linens at least once a week in hot water -- more often if someone is sick.
Wash soiled items -- like clothes with grass stains -- separately from other laundry, especially sheets.
Wipe down the home office
Computer keyboards, desktops, and telephones are breeding grounds for germs, especially if you share equipment or eat while you work. Shake out your keyboard often or use a vacuum attachment to remove junk. Then use a wipe to disinfect it. Wipe your computer screen with a damp microfiber cloth.
According to Charles Gerba, "desktops have 400 times more bacteria than a toilet seat".
Disinfecting your desktop weekly could reduce your exposure to colds and flu by as much as 50 per cent.
Sanitise the kitchen sink
Forget the bathroom: the kitchen sink is the second germiest place in the house, especially the kitchen sponge.
It should be replaced every couple of weeks.
Don't forget hallways and carpets
When you walk through your house wearing shoes, you're tracking in everything you've stepped on outside, including E. coli and other bacteria that can cause illness. For the cleanest floors and carpets, and the least mess, leave your shoes at the door.
Keep your house tidy and organised
How can you clean and really disinfect a messy room? Well, you can’t. The first step to cleaning (and disinfecting) is to tidy up. This will always be much quicker if you have a performing organisation system, where every single item has a specified spot in your home. Consider hiring a professional organiser: getting organised is definitely worth it and a critical first step to a germ-free house.
Stay safe everyone and enjoy your home sweet home.