Cleaning in the Time of Coronavirus
Yiwen Di, Isaac Mulvihill, Carolyn Swope and Regina Vaicekonyte | March 27, 2020
We hope you are staying as safe as possible during the outbreak of Covid-19. As you hunker down at home for the long haul, here are some tips to improve sanitization and disinfection; from hand washing as self-care and UVC light to clean your phone to disinfectants meeting EPA standards and HEPA vacuuming at home. Stay tuned for more tips on wellness in the time of Coronavirus!
Hand Washing to Feel Good!
- Self-Care – Hand washing is a great opportunity for regular self-care. Transform a thorough hand washing process into a soothing hand massage that works out any joint stiffness and circulates oxygen-rich blood through your muscles:
- Step 1: Lather your hands with soap and water.
- Step 2: Use one hand to massage the other; start with your palm and work up to your wrist.
- Step 3: Slowly massage each finger with your opposite hand, making sure to include the base and top of the finger.
- Step 4: Next, focus on massaging the back of your hand and wrist.
- Step 5: Add more soap to your lather and repeat the process on your other hand.
- Steph 6: Rinse your hands thoroughly with warm water!
- Turn up the heat – Warm water makes those 20 seconds of hand washing a more pleasant and comforting experience!
- Indulge in Moisturizer – Frequent hand washing can dehydrate your skin, so keep your favorite moisturizer handy. Try infusing your moisturizer with essential oils or other scents that make you feel happy.
- Music that Inspires – While the CDC recommends humming ‘Happy Birthday’ to ensure an adequate hand washing time, you can always set a 20 second timer through your smart home assistant and choose music that uplifts you.
- Sink-Side Scenery – Bring in some beauty to liven up your bathroom or kitchen sink area – from art, photography or imagery that inspires to aromatherapy and fresh plantlife.
- You’re not Alone – Remember that proper hand washing is not just for your own benefit, but also helps protect your housemates, family members, and anyone else you might come into contact with.
- Towel Care – Try and allocate separate hand towels for each family member. People with Covid-19 can be asymptomatic for a while, and some may only develop mild symptoms. Since the virus can travel through droplets from infected persons and onto towels, the towels should be washed frequently to minimize risk of transmission.
- No Soap – Use a hand sanitizer with 60-70% alcohol content to supplement hand washing, especially if you are traveling, to ensure that your hands remain clean.
Clean. Your. Phone.
As you probably already know, your smartphone is generally teeming with bacteria. If you don’t clean your phone, you’ll pick up most of the germs you just spent 20 seconds washing off your hands! Be sure to clean both your phone and its cover with disinfectant wipes that meet EPA standards to help combat the novel coronavirus and other viruses and bacteria.
Another great tool for phone cleaning is UVC light, which can kill or inactivate microorganisms present on non-porous surfaces. Based on existing research about the physical and chemical properties of other coronaviruses, the novel coronavirus is believed to be sensitive to ultraviolet light and heat. Therefore, using UVC light on high-touch objects and surfaces could be an important strategy to help prevent the spread of infection.
Remember to wipe your phone clean with a microfiber cloth before using the UVC light and also, remember that UVC wands are not effective on porous surfaces such as bedding, rugs, sofas and other upholstered furniture. Be sure to follow manufacturer instructions – both for safety and because factors like light intensity, duration of sanitization, angle, distance and characteristics of the surface being treated will affect disinfection quality.
Clean High Touch Surfaces
The objects and surfaces you touch most can accumulate tons of germs throughout the day. Think of your laptop keyboard, earbuds and headphones, glasses, light switches and remote controls. It can be difficult to clean some of these with sanitizing liquids or wipes, so a UVC cleaning device can come in handy here as well.
- The EPA has provided a specific list of antimicrobial products for use against Covid-19. Manufacturer instructions should be followed for all cleaning and disinfection products.
- When seeking out products identified by the EPA, remember to match the registration label found in EPA’s List N with that found on the consumer product label.
- Here are some hard-surface disinfectants that meet the EPA’s criteria for use against Covid-19: Clorox Healthcare Germicidal; Clorox Hydrogen Peroxide Line of Disinfectants, which offer soft surface sanitization and are perfect for upholstery and other textiles; and the Microban 24 Hour product line for antiviral efficacy as well as residual, 24-hour sanitizer efficacy against bacteria. Note: Microban products may require a longer dwell-time to deactivate certain viruses and bacteria as compared to some hydrogen peroxide and bleach products.
Experts recommend that dirty laundry be handled with disposable gloves to avoid direct contact with viruses and bacteria. In addition, the EPA’s list of disinfectants for use against Covid-19 includes laundry detergents containing antimicrobial agents, the most readily available of which is sodium hypochlorite (bleach)
Bleach is proven effective against numerous strains of bacteria and virus when used in accordance with manufacturer and EPA label instructions. Make sure to check the EPA label instructions and ensure that the percentage of sodium hypochlorite meets or exceeds 5.25% in the selected product. Clorox Germicidal Bleach is a recommended leading brand for sanitization and disinfection.
HEPA Filter Vacuum
Vacuum cleaners with HEPA filters are recommended for home cleaning, as they effectively trap contaminated particles that may be loaded with viruses. Vacuum cleaners with lower-rated filters only capture a portion of these particles, while the rest can get recirculated in the air. HEPA filters are tested for their high removal efficiency of particles larger than 0.3 microns, so that once virus-laden particles are collected by the vacuum, you don’t have to worry about them being recirculated back into your home environment.
When selecting your HEPA-filtration vacuum, look for labels specifying “HEPA” or “True HEPA” instead of “HEPA-type,” “HEPA-like,” “HEPA-style” or “99% HEPA”. The latter filters do not satisfy the HEPA standard and may not have been tested by independent laboratories. Most of these filters can only efficiently capture particles that are 2 microns or larger. A list of HEPA vacuums can be found in Consumer Reports.
Edited by Radhika Singh