Spring cleaning has taken on an entirely new meaning this year during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now more than ever, homeowners are anxious to apply as much elbow grease as necessary to keep their homes clean and safe for themselves and their family as the next line of defence in addition to regular handwashing and physical distancing. Amidst the abundance of caution, we’ve also seen an abundance of misinformation, however, and it’s hard to sift through the news articles to find out exactly what is effective when cleaning your home to protect against the Coronavirus.
One of the most commonly asked questions about cleaning during the pandemic is how long can the Coronavirus which causes COVID-19 live on different types of surfaces? Early evidence suggests it can live on objects and surfaces from a few hours to several days, so without knowing exactly, homeowners are all stepping up their game in terms of more regular and thorough cleaning regimes.
We’ve collected information from the World Health Organization (WHO), Health Canada, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help you decide how you will clean your house this spring to ensure that you’re disinfecting as much as possible against the COVID-19 virus.
Cleaning Properly Matters
First and foremost, the team here at Bob Blake wants to remind our readers that “any cleaning is better than no cleaning” do NOT apply to our spring cleaning regiment this year if your goal is to decontaminate your space from COVID-19. Environmental Services Director of CleanLearning in Ottawa Keith Sopha says that using improper methods or products can actually spread the microorganisms that are responsible for infections.
“In some cases, we found more microorganisms on desks after cleaning than before,” says Sopha.
Furthermore, we must be careful about which products we’re using together. Sopha urges people to follow dilution instructions carefully and to refrain from mixing their own DIY chemical mixtures. For example, bleach should only be mixed with water to dilute it. Mixing with other compounds can produce gases which are deadly when inhaled. Other mixtures can irritate skin. “If you are not a chemist, beware of what you are mixing.”
Soap. Rinse. Repeat.
We’ve heard it time and time again, washing our hands with soap will protect us from Covid-19. The same applies to house cleaning. How can something so simple be so effective against this potentially deadly virus? It’s because the coronavirus is a ball of protein surrounded by a layer of fat. Soap disperses the layer of fat (think of grease in dishwashing soap commercials!) and breaks down the underlying protein rendering it non-infective.
With that in mind, we encourage you to tackle your Covid-19 spring cleaning with simple dish soap and warm water for any surfaces in your home which can tolerate a damp cloth.
Tips when washing with a damp cloth and soapy water:
Done correctly, this simple way of washing surfaces in your home can be the easiest way to protect your family from COVID-19 during this pandemic in addition to your physical distancing and hand washing measures. By breaking down the fat and protein with your soapy solution, you’ll be disinfecting your home against Covid-19 simply, easily, and very cost effectively.
Yay and Nay for Covid-19-Killing Chemicals
Health Canada has approved 222 effective chemicals for killing the Coronavirus and points out many other common green household cleaners that are not considered effective in the fight against COVID-19.
You can check the effectiveness of any cleaning chemicals for protecting against the COVID-19 virus by looking for a drug identification number (DIN) on the label, which signals it is approved by Health Canada. Then search that DIN on Health Canada’s list of disinfectants that will work against this virus.
Top Tips for COVID-19 Cleaning
Health Canada and the WHO offer these expert cleaning tips for those who want to dig even deeper into their COVID-19 spring cleaning efforts.
1. Follow all directions on cleaning products and chemicals with respect to which surfaces they are suitable for as well as the “dwell time”, that is the time the surface must remain wet in order for viruses and bacteria to be killed
2. Regularly disinfect counters, sinks, toilets, tables, and floors and concentrate on high-touch areas, including door knobs, toilet flushers, fridge and cabinet handles, shower curtains, faucets, remote controls, phones and computer keyboards;
4. If using a bleach product, open windows, turn on fans and limit your exposure to breathing in the fumes
5. Wash towels, bath mats and sheets on hot or sanitize settings and avoid shaking them out
6. Always take your shoes off before entering the house to avoid tracking in dirt and germs.
7. Use damp cleaning methods such as damp clean cloths, and/or a wet mop. Do not dust or sweep which can distribute virus droplets into the air.
8. Contaminated disposable cleaning items (e.g. mop heads, cloths) should be placed in a lined garbage bin before disposing of them with regular waste. Reusable cleaning items can be washed using regular laundry soap and hot water (60-90°C).
We hope that all of you are staying home, staying healthy, and feeling equipped and at ease with the idea of cleaning your house to protect against COVID-19 by using these simple and cost-effective measures. Please do share this information with your loved ones to support their efforts in these unusual times.