Between COVID-19, flu season, or changing a poopy diaper on the go, hand sanitizer can be a life saver. But a lot of commercial hand sanitizers can contain fragrances and some pretty gross chemicals. To make sure you're getting the best possible product, we reviewed a ton of options and made sure they're easy to find at stores. There are options for gels, sprays, and wipes and lots of yummy smells like lavender or coconut and lemon, or just simply fragrance free if you want something simple. Try out several and stash them in places where you might need them, like the car, a favorite purse, backpack, or laptop bag. All of our non-toxic hand sanitizer recommendations are safer for you but super tough on germs!
*Because Health is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program so that when you click through our Amazon links, a percentage of the proceeds from your purchases will go to Because Health. We encourage you to shop locally, but if you do buy online buying through our links will help us continue the critical environmental health education work we do. Our participation does not influence our product recommendations. To read more about how we recommend products, go to our methodology page.
This is a toolkit that is an easy to understand guide to best and safe practices for reopening childcare providers and schools during COVID-19. The toolkit has summaries of best practices from the CDC, EPA, and others in one place. Our recommendations also take into consideration disinfectants with safer ingredients. If you are a parent who is concerned about safe and best practices when schools are reopened, please download our toolkit to send to your childcare provider or school administrator. We even have a sample email that you can use to write your school administrator or childcare director and attach these materials. Or if you work as a childcare provider or at a school, we have made this resource for you. We hope that it is helpful.
Download the complete toolkit with sample email and all the resource links here:
COVID-19. Just hearing the word may bring shivers down your spine. It's turned the world upside down, and definitely changed the way we live our lives. Luckily, we've learned from scientists that there are ways to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Good hand hygiene (that means washing for TWO rounds of happy birthday, people!), staying 6 feet away from others, and wearing a mask. As we slowly learn how to adapt to COVID-19, there might be one question you're asking yourself. How does COVID-19 spread, and can it be transmitted through the air we breathe?As we winter is approaching and we spend more and more time indoors, this is definitely on the top of our minds. Sit tight as we break it down for you below.
How does it spread?
Most scientist and public health organizations agree that there are two main ways that COVID-19 can spread:
COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly through close contact from person-to-person through inhalation of large respiratory droplets or direct contact(1).
And through touching infected surfaces and touching your face, rubbing your eyes, picking something up and eating it (4).
A third method of spread, more recently recognized, is inhaling small airborne droplets containing the COVID-19 virus (4). Airborne droplets are different from the large respiratory droplets that cause most spread of COVID-19. Large respiratory droplets usually cannot travel more than 6 feet (the recommended distance for social distancing) (1). Airborne droplets are small enough to stay suspended in the air and travel depending on air flow, up to several hours (5). While studies for airborne transmission of COVID-19 are still ongoing, more than 80 percent of published scientific journals indicate that COVID-19 can spread through the air and infect others (4). The WHO and the CDC have both updated their guidance to say that the COVID-19 virus can be spread through airborne particles. Multiple studies found that viruses are released during exhalation, talking, and coughing in microdroplets that are small enough to stay in the air and can travel a much further than the size of a typical room (5) For context on how small we're talking, about 400 COVID-19 virus particles can fit on the width of one of your hairs (8)! Particles that small can easily end up in our bodies and make us sick without proper protection.
How can you protect yourself from airborne COVID-19?
Increase air flow: Making sure your indoor spaces get proper ventilation will help improve indoor air quality (2). The easiest way to do this is to open windows or screened doors as frequently as possible to keep air moving in the home (2). You can place a fan in front of the window or open windows on different sides of the house to help increase air flow. If you have a window air conditioner with an outdoor air intake or vent, turn that on as well (2). For bathrooms, turn the fan on when the bathroom is in use and keep it running, if possible (2).
Use air filtration: air purifiers can help reduce airborne contaminants including viruses in a home or confined space (2). Consider purchasing air purifiers that have a portable high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) fan/filtration system. Make sure air cleaners don't generate ozone (3). If you don't have access to an air filter, you can increase the filtration capacity of the filter capacity on your furnace to help (7). Most can support a MERV 13 filter.
Be mindful of room capacity: Avoid overcrowding (5). If you are hosting a gathering, keep the number of guests invited small, and host the gathering outdoors, if possible (6). If a gathering needs to be indoors, keep doors and windows open for maximum airflow (6). Even when outdoors, be mindful of air flow. Try and avoid areas that have limited airflow (like standing in a corner between two buildings), if possible. And most importantly, don't forget to wear a mask if you're with people you don't live with!
While precautions to prevent airborne spread of COVID-19 are helpful, they are not the whole picture. The Environmental Protection Agency notes that when used along with other best practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention such as staying 6 feet away from others and mask wearing, increasing ventilation and air filtration is a good addition to helping prevent the spread of COVID-19.
All this to say, while COVID-19 is scary, there are things that we can do to help protect ourselves and our loved ones.
Sigh… we're spending a lot more time at home nowadays. And for some reason everything seems a lot dirtier than usual and we feel like we're cleaning 24/7. That's why we've been doing a ton of research into cleaning tricks and hacks! One subject that has come up over and over again is microfiber cloths.
Microfiber cloths have been our best friends these past couple of months, not only for dust bunnies but to make sure things are extra germ free during the coronavirus pandemic. If you don't know about microfiber cloths, listen up! These magic cleaning cloths really do work well and have been scientifically shown to reduce germs and cross contamination between surfaces (which is an especially good idea nowadays!). There's even a clever way to fold them to create 8 unique cleaning surfaces per cloth. Basically, they're amazing! Read on to learn why it's a good idea to clean with microfiber cloths, especially during a pandemic, and how to use and wash them the right way.
What Are Microfiber Cloths?
Microfiber is a special kind of extra soft and fuzzy fabric made of polyester and nylon super fine fibers that have a diameter of less than ten micrometres. That's a hundred times finer than human hair and even finer than silk fibers! Microfiber cloths and mop heads are widely used because these super fine fibers are really good at cleaning, even without any cleaning products. Millions of tiny fibers on a cloth have a slightly positive charge that actually attract dirt and dust (which are negatively charged) and dislodge them from surfaces. That's why when you dust with a microfiber cloth, it almost seems like it swoops up the dust particles without any resistance. And because the super fine fibers increase the surface area, microfiber cloths can absorb 7 times their weight in water, which is also really useful when cleaning up messes. The tiny fibers are also able to get into cracks and crevessaes, which also contributes to their superpower cleaning abilities.
Why it's a Good Idea to Clean with Microfiber Cloths During the Coronavirus Pandemic
All of these properties of microfiber cloths that make them really good at cleaning up dirt and grime, also make them an excellent choice for cleaning during the coronavirus pandemic. Studies have shown that microfiber cloths reduce the transfer of germs from surface to surface as compared to cotton cloths (1). Another study showed microfiber mops remove more germs from a surface without a disinfectant than a cotton mop did with a disinfectant (2). That's some super power! Microfiber cloths also dry fast, so there's less chance for bacteria growth if you don't immediately put them in the laundry.
Since microfiber cloths are so effective at cleaning on their own, this means that you can clean your house using less harsh cleaning products. Since cleaning products have been shown to reduce indoor air quality and damage lungs (3), anything that reduces their use is a good idea. Indoor air quality, lung health, and overall wellness are so important during the coronavirus pandemic.
Finally, the fact that microfiber cloths make cleaning much easier means that you're more likely to do it. Having a clean home and disinfecting when necessary are really important during the pandemic. In fact, the CDC recommends cleaning a surface before disinfecting; this combination is the best way to reduce the risk of infection. Dirt and grime can actually make some disinfectants not work properly and cleaning actually physically removes germs and dirt from surfaces or objects.
How to Use Microfiber Cloths the Right Way
Knowing the correct way to use a microfiber cloth is crucial for maximum cleaning potential. It's important to keep microfiber cloths dry when you are dusting. That allows the static electricity to work the best at attracting dust. For other surfaces that need a bit of water or all purpose cleaner, don't over saturate the surface or cloth. It's also a good idea to color code your cloths for different uses (even more important if they are being used at schools or other facilities). This reduces the cross contamination risk even after you wash them. You don't want to accidentally clean your kitchen with a cloth you used on your toilet! And while you're cleaning, folding the cloths in half and then in half again and then using each side for a different surface is a great way to reduce cross contamination. You can get 8 separate surfaces this way! See our handy video or follow the instructions below.
How to Fold a Microfiber Cloth to Reduce Surface Contamination
Fold the microfiber cloth in half, and then in half again. A quarter of the cloth should be exposed now.
Hold the cloth in your hand and clean your first surface, like the dining room table.
Flip the cloth in your hand and use the other side to clean the next surface, for example counters.
Unfold the cloth and then refold it the other way, and use the two remaining surfaces on this side of the cloth.
Unfold the cloth completely and then fold the cloth in half so that the non-used side is exposed. Then fold it in half again. Repeat steps 2-4 on the unused side of the cloth.
How to Wash Microfiber Cloths the Right Way
Microfiber cloths can be washed in the washing machine using warm or cold water, and can be reused many many times. However, if you wash them with cotton cloths or your normal clothes, the fibers can get gunked up with stuff that will make them less effective. It's a good idea to create a separate laundry basket for your microfiber cloths and wash them alone. Make sure to avoid using fabric softeners and bleach when laundering microfiber cloths because they can damage the fibers. Microfiber cloths also dry very quickly, so hang them to dry, or dry them on low in your dryer.
What About Microfiber Pollution from Microfiber Cloths?
Perhaps you have heard about the microfiber pollution problem? If you haven't, basically little microfibers (which are essentially plastic) are being released into our rivers and oceans through our laundry (4)! Fleece and lots of other clothing contain synthetic fibers, which can shed while they're being washed. While this is a problem that scientists are just beginning to discover and understand, we do know that they can cause hazardous effects in aquatic species. We don't know much about the human health effects yet, but scientists are working on it. Washing and using microfiber cloths does contribute to microfiber pollution, but they probably contribute less than everything else you wash. Since microfiber cloths reduce harsh cleaning chemical use and are more reusable and durable than cotton cloths, we still recommend them. Purchasing one less fleece or clothing item with synthetic fibers can offset the couple of microfiber cloths you need for cleaning your entire home! To reduce the potential for shedding, you can buy some microfiber trapping devices like the Cora ball and the Guppyfriend bag and use those when you are washing your microfiber cloths.
Trajtman, Adriana N., Kanchana Manickam, and Michelle J. Alfa. "Microfiber cloths reduce the transfer of Clostridium difficile spores to environmental surfaces compared with cotton cloths." American Journal of Infection Control 43.7 (2015): 686-689.
Rutala, William A., Maria F. Gergen, and David J. Weber. "Microbiologic evaluation of microfiber mops for surface disinfection." American journal of infection control 35.9 (2007): 569-573.
Svanes, Øistein, et al. "Cleaning at home and at work in relation to lung function decline and airway obstruction." American journal of respiratory and critical care medicine197.9 (2018): 1157-1163.
Mishra, Sunanda, Chandi charan Rath, and Alok Prasad Das. "Marine microfiber pollution: a review on present status and future challenges." Marine pollution bulletin 140 (2019): 188-197.
Whether you're on a walk, going to the grocery store, or picking up a prescription, wearing a mark is now a standard part of life. While masks may seem like a hassle to wear, they're an important tool in helping slow the spread of the virus and decrease the number of infections (1). Many countries and local governments now require citizens to wear a mask while outside, and the CDC recommends wearing a mask even if it's not required by law. But how do you wear a mask properly and how do you keep a reusable face mask clean? A mask that isn't properly cleaned may pose a health risk to yourself and others. We have some simple tips that will make wearing and washing your mask a little more straightforward!
Why You Should Wear a Mask
Wearing a mask is important when you're in situations where socially distancing isn't possible (2). If you're healthy, a face mask can help protect you from breathing in germs. If you're sick, a face mask can help prevent others from getting sick as well (4). More research is needed on this subject in non-medical settings, but the available evidence suggests they can be a good precautionary practice. , One preprint study found that wearing a mask can be "very slightly protective against primary infection from casual community contact, and modestly protective against household infections when both infected and uninfected members wear facemasks" (3).
If your state or county requires a face mask, please comply with local ordinances. Many retailers and employers are also requiring masks for when employees return to work or when you enter an establishment. If you're going on a walk or an errand, use your best judgement of when you should wear a mask. It's always a good idea to have one when you leave the house just in case you find yourself in a situation where you're around more people than you had planned,
How to Wear a Mask
The most important part of wearing a mask is making sure it fits correctly! All masks should fit snugly around the sides of your face while covering your nose and mouth, but they shouldn't be restrictive or make it hard to breathe. All masks should be secured with ties or with loops that go around your ears (1). If you're using a cloth face mask, you should be able to launder it without changing its size or shape (1).
Here are the best practices for keeping your mask clean and keeping yourself safe:
Although it's tempting to rewear a disposable mask, they were designed to only be used once. If you sanitize or wash a disposable mask, you're most likely damaging it so it won't be as effective.
Cloth masks can be reworn, but they have to be washed with laundry soap or detergent after every use. Yes, this includes after your 5 minute walk to the post office or any situation in which you were around others! Make sure to wash your mask in warm water and dry on high heat- warm water and high heat laundry settings have been shown to deactivate the coronavirus. Detergent by itself can also deactivate and wash away the virus.
If you're using a filter insert with your mask, make sure to replace it every time you use your mask. Like disposable masks, filter inserts were meant to be single-use.
Wash your hands after touching your mask. This will stop you from potentially getting sick or spreading the virus around. Don't forget to wash with soap and warm water for at least 30 seconds! The more time you take to wash your hands, the more effective it will be.
If you aren't able to wash your mask, you can leave your mask to air out for at least a week. You'll have to wear a different mask in the meantime, but leaving your mask alone for a week will dramatically decrease the amount of coronavirus germs on it (although there are other germs that may persist longer!) Therefore, we recommend washing your mask with detergent and water, even if it's by hand.
COVID-19 has jumped from an obscure, local outbreak to a global pandemic in a matter of months. Its novel status and fast transmission rate have left many feeling anxious and worried about what the future holds. We break down everything you know about COVID-19 so far and the best ways to protect yourself.
What is COVID-19?
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a novel coronavirus that was first reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019. There are many different coronaviruses, including the common cold, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) (2). The virus has since spread worldwide and, as of June 17, 2020, has infected over 8,00,000 people. Estimates put the mortality rate between 1-3%, which is much higher than the mortality rate for the flu.
Since this is a new virus, we don't have a complete picture of all of the signs and symptoms of this disease. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include a dry cough, fever, and fatigue; symptoms start appearing on an average of 5-6 days after infection (range is 1-14 days) (1). For most people COVID-19 is a mild illness and they can recover at home without any special treatment. About 1 in 5 COVID-19 cases become serious and require hospitalization (2). Older people and people with underlying health conditions are especially at risk of developing a serious case of COVID-19.
COVID-19 is thought to spread quickly from people who are in close contact with each other (within 6 feet) (3). The WHO states "the disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth. People can also catch COVID-19 if they breathe in droplets from a person with COVID-19 who coughs out or exhales droplets" (1). COVID-19 has also been shown to survive on surfaces. One study found that COVID-19 was able to survive on stainless steel, cardboard, and copper for at least 72 hours (5).
How to Stay Safe
If you're in the high-risk category, you should stay home as much as possible and avoid crowds. Everyone else should practice good hygiene techniques, implement social distancing, and wear a face mask when leaving the home.
Washing your hands frequently throughout the day is one of the best ways to stay protected against COVID-19. Normal soap is just as effective in protecting against COVID-19 as antibacterial soap. Make sure you're scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds every time you wash them and to follow this helpful graph from the WHO:
Use hand sanitizer if you're out and don't have access to a sink. Make sure the hand sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol; a higher alcohol content is better at killing germs. The CDC states: "when using hand sanitizer, apply the product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount) and rub the product all over the surfaces of your hands until your hands are dry" (6). But remember that hand sanitizer won't work well if your hands are visibly dirty or greasy.
Along with person-to-person contact, many counties are also experiencing community spread. Community spread means some people who have gotten COVID-19 aren't sure where or how they were exposed to the virus. During the early stages of the outbreak, it was really important to limit the spread of transmission. By limiting the spread of COVID-19, many places were able to "flatten the curve"... AKA avoid overwhelming healthcare systems to ensure that the sickest patients are able to receive the care they need.
Today, many cities and states are easing restrictions and slowly coming out of shelter in place orders. Although the lockdown is easing up, please make sure to still follow all rules and regulations put in place by your local government or public health official. Check your local government's website for updates about the easing of your stage of shelter in place.
Even if you're not under a shelter in place order, you must practice social distancing. Since this virus is spread through close contact (within 6 feet), putting distance between you and others in your community can stop transmission. You can try social distancing by avoiding supermarkets during peak hours or watching a movie at home instead of going to the theater. Always wear a mask when you're in public.
Are Children More At Risk?
Most of the COVID-19 cases have been seen in adults and it doesn't seem that children are at higher risk of catching the virus. (4) Most children that tested positive for COVID-19 have only had mild symptoms, but there have also been some severe cases and fatalities. Any child over the age of 2 should wear a face mask out in public (4).
What To Do If You're Sick
If you're feeling mildly sick and you're worried you may have COVID-19, stay home and contact your healthcare provider to ask about next steps. Many testing sites are now available to the public. You may be asked to go to a local testing center before seeing your primary care physician. If you're experiencing serious symptoms like shortness of breath, you might want to head to your local ER. Make sure to always wear a face mask in public if you suspect you're sick- this will protect others around you and stop the spread of your illness.
While the outbreak of a new virus is scary, knowledge is power. It's important to stay informed and follow all recommendations from your local healthcare officials. Together we can limit the spread of COVID-19 and help protect the health of our community.
We don't know about you, but the outbreak of the new coronavirus this year has us doing a lot of cleaning. And it seems like we're going to be doing this for quite a while. Having cleaning on the brain makes us wonder: What's the best "natural" or "green" way to clean that still gets rid of the coronavirus causing the pandemic? What's the difference between cleaning and disinfecting? What products are safe to use but also effective at preventing transmission and infection? Are there non-toxic disinfectants? We answer all of your novel coronavirus cleaning and disinfecting related questions below.
Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) Basics
While it's always good to routinely clean and disinfect, it's especially important during this pandemic. COVID-19 is highly transmissible and can spread quickly through a community. The best and easiest way to keep yourself protected is to up your hand washing game (20 seconds and lots of scrubbing), practice social distancing, and staying home as much as possible. The importance of these three things can't be overemphasized, so we're saying it one more time!
Cleaning household surfaces is also really important, especially if a family member is sick, you're receiving packages or groceries that others touch, or you leave the house for work or errands. The virus SARS-CoV-2 is transmitted in droplets when an infected person sneezes, coughs, or even shouts or breathes. These droplets may fall onto surfaces, and if you touch them, you could then touch your face and then become infected. The new coronavirus has been shown to remain on surfaces for an extended length of time. In general, the smoother the surface the longer the virus will remain active. Additionally, viruses tend to live longer with lower temperatures and when it's dry. There have been two recent studies and they have found that the novel coronavirus could survive on plastic and stainless steel for up to 7 days, wood and cloth for 2 days, cardboard for 24 hours, and paper and tissues for 3 hours (1, 2). That's why as people are leaving their houses more and more after sheltering in place, it's important to increase the amount of times you clean and disinfect household surfaces in order to decrease transmission in every way possible.
Cleaning vs. Disinfecting
It's really important to know the difference between cleaning and disinfecting. Cleaning gets rid of germs and dirt from surfaces or objects. Cleaning doesn't necessarily kill germs; it reduces their numbers and the risk of infection by just washing germs down the drain. Cleaning can involve washing your hands, using a laundry machine, or using an all purpose cleaner on a surface or object. Soap is a necessary part of cleaning because it helps to carry away the germs. Many people think antimicrobial soap is better for cleaning but that's just not true. There is no evidence that it helps prevent infections over plain old soap and water. In fact, with the new coronavirus, soap and water is very effective at breaking down a fatty layer that surrounds the virus. When you're cleaning, the goal is to remove the germs, not kill them. So when you scrub a surface or your hands with soap, the friction helps lift away any germs and dirt.
Disinfecting, on the other hand, actually kills germs on surfaces or objects by using chemicals. Disinfecting doesn't physically remove germs, but kills them in place. Disinfecting chemicals work by attacking certain parts of the germs and breaking them down. While killing germs sounds appealing, you can't only disinfect. In fact, the CDC recommends cleaning a surface before disinfecting; this combination is the best way to reduce the risk of infection. It's important to note that some disinfecting chemicals can have harmful health effects. Bleach (sodium hypochlorite) and quaternary ammonia (quats) irritate the skin and airways and through prolonged use can cause long term damage like asthma (3, 4). Additionally, new research is showing that quats are linked to reproductive harm, including infertility and birth defects (5, 6). You can check if a cleaning product has a quat in it by looking for ingredients usually say benzalkonium chloride or *fill in the blank* ammonium chloride (like Alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride).
If you only have disinfectants like bleach or quats (or can only find those in stores now), then the safer way to use these disinfectants is to make sure to ventilate well and wear gloves when cleaning. Then after the disinfectant has sat for the requisite contact time (info should be on the label) you can go back over the areas with plain water and a washcloth. This will help remove some of the residual chemicals and fragrances. If you have kids, don't let them handle the disinfectants and try to have them in a separate room when disinfecting and make sure to safely store them out of reach. Also, please NEVER mix disinfectants with other cleaning products as some combinations can be really dangerous.
Fortunately, there are relatively safer disinfecting chemicals that don't have the same harmful health side effects! But remember that even products with safer active ingredients should be used with care and that it's really important to have good ventilation when using them. The EPA has evaluated disinfectant active ingredients and determined that they are unlikely to be carcinogenic or cause hormone disruption. Safe disinfectant ingredients that are effective against COVID-19 include:
Alcohol, ethanol, isopropyl
L- Lactic acid
A lot of cleaning products are sold out right now, but as more of them come back in stock, you can look for products with these active ingredients that are on the EPA List of Disinfectants for Use Against COVID-19. We went over the list and pulled together some products that you might find on store shelves (when they are in stock!) or with popular online retailers that use these safer active ingredients. Please make sure to let them sit for the proper amount of contact time listed on the label or on the EPA list.
Arm & Hammer Essentials™ Disinfecting Wipes (5 mins)
Lysol Bathroom Cleaner (5 mins)
CleanCide Wipes (5 mins)
Comet Disinfecting Bathroom Cleaner (10 mins)
Bona STL Disinfecting Cleaner (10 mins)
Proxi Home General Disinfectant Cleaner Spray (10 mins)
Clorox Pet Solutions Advanced Formula Disinfecting Stain & Odor Remover (5 mins)
PURELL Professional Surface Disinfectant Wipes (5 mins)
PURELL Multi-Surface Disinfectant and Professional Surface Disinfectant, registered under Urthpro (1 min)
Lysol Neutra Air® 2 in 1 (30 sec)
Windex Disinfectant Cleaner (5 mins)
Sodium chloride (contact time 10 minutes)- Force of Nature Activator Capsule
Thymol (contact time 10 minutes)- CleanWell Daily Cleaner Disinfectant Spray and Towelettes
We know that even DIY ingredients are hard to find at the moment, but it's worth checking your medicine cabinet to see if you have any rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide laying around. You can use either of these ingredients to make a DIY disinfectant in a spray bottle! Most trigger spray tops will screw right onto a bottle. Alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol are effective on hard surfaces with a contact time of at least 30 seconds. This should be safe to use on most surfaces and objects around the home and can be really useful for disinfecting electronics like your cellphone or keyboard. 3% Hydrogen peroxide is effective against other viruses that are harder to kill than coronaviruses, so you can spray and let sit for a 3-5 minutes. In fact there's no need to wipe off. Just spray and let it dry. Hydrogen peroxide can change the color of fabrics and painted surfaces though, so be careful while using it on these materials.
Complete Guide to Cleaning Your Home During COVID-19
Washing your hands is still the #1 thing to do! Wash your hands with soap and water before preparing food, eating, or snacking. Wash your hands after using the bathroom. Wash your hands when you're coming back from anywhere outside the house. Wash your hands after touching any object from out of your house, like packages.
Clean surfaces and objects that can get wet with an all purpose cleaner. Here is a roundup of safe and effective all purpose cleaners and you can even DIY an all purpose cleaner with vinegar and water or liquid soap and water. We like to regularly clean floors, counters, tables, cabinet surfaces and handles, doors and door handles, windows, window sills, toilets, vanities, tubs and showers, and appliances. Using a wet cloth and wet mopping are a great way to get rid of germs and dust, as opposed to a feather duster that just spreads them around. If you want a comprehensive cleaning checklist, check out our guide.
Routinely disinfect high touch objects and surfaces. Frequently touched objects in the house include things like door handles or knobs, locks, light switches, tables, cabinet and appliance handles, toilet flushers, faucets, cell phones, laptops and keyboards/mouse, and remote controls.
Wash bedding, towels, and laundry regularly on the warmest possible setting that won't ruin the fabrics and dry in the dryer.
When you leave the home to get groceries or other essentials, try to not bring any unnecessary objects, especially things that are hard to wash like a leather wallet or leather purse. If you need to bring a bag to bring some things in, bring a washable tote bag. When you return home, wash your hands and clean and/or disinfect everything that you brought with you and may have touched (this includes your phone!). You should also wash your reusable face mask after every use. You can also wash your clothes and any bags you may have taken with you.
Groceries and deliveries are mostly likely a low risk source for transmission. But you can clean or disinfect everything coming into the house if you would like. You can now ask for contact-free delivery with most packages, food, and grocery delivery services. Wipe down boxes or bags with a disinfectant, or let them sit in a space where no one will touch them for 3 days if the goods are not perishable. For objects that are in plastic or that can get wet, you can save your disinfectant and wash them with soap and water. Viruses can survive in the freezer and in the refrigerator, so it is still important to wash or disinfect items that are going in the fridge since you might touch them later.
When Someone in the Home is Sick
The CDC has good guidance on what to do when caring for someone who is sick. Since COVID-19 is easily transmissible, it's important to clean when someone is suspected of being sick or is actually sick. You should try to create a separate quarantine area (including a bathroom) within your home that only the sick person will use. If no one else will enter this area, it does not need to be cleaned unless necessary. But we know a separate area is not always possible, so here are some important areas to clean when someone is sick:
Wash dishes, cups, and utensils that the sick person uses separately with hot water and soap.
Wash bedding, towels, and clothing regularly with the warmest setting possible. Wear disposable gloves when putting in the laundry or wash your hands immediately after.
Clean and disinfect the bathroom after the sick person uses it before it is used by another person.
Clean and disinfect all surfaces and objects that the sick person may have touched, such as counters or appliance handles.
Use a lined trash can that is reserved for things that the sick person has used or touched, like tissues.
Open windows to let fresh air in.
1) van Doremalen, Neeltje, et al. "Aerosol and surface stability of SARS-CoV-2 as compared with SARS-CoV- 1." New England Journal of Medicine 382.16 (2020): 1564-1567.
2) Chin, Alex WH, et al. "Stability of SARS-CoV-2 in different environmental conditions." The Lancet Microbe 1.1 (2020): e10.
3) Gonzalez, M., et al. "Asthma among workers in healthcare settings: role of disinfection with quaternary ammonium compounds." Clinical & Experimental Allergy 44.3 (2014): 393-406.
4) Matulonga, Bobette, et al. "Women using bleach for home cleaning are at increased risk of non-allergic asthma." Respiratory medicine 117 (2016): 264-271.
5) Melin, Vanessa E., et al. "Quaternary ammonium disinfectants cause subfertility in mice by targeting both male and female reproductive processes." Reproductive Toxicology 59 (2016): 159-166.
6) Hrubec, Terry C., et al. "Ambient and dosed exposure to quaternary ammonium disinfectants causes neural tube defects in rodents." Birth defects research 109.14 (2017): 1166-1178.