12 Places to Clean in Your Home to Prevent the Spread of Illness

Pay attention to high-touch areas of your home – especially those you don't normally disinfect.

U.S. News & World Report

How to Disinfect Your Home

Young woman is cleaning the kitchen in home.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in your home.(Getty Images)

The COVID-19 virus probably has you spending just about all of your time at home these days, so it’s important to expand your preventive measures beyond hand-washing to actively disinfect surfaces throughout your home – including those that are touched often but frequently overlooked in cleaning.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the COVID-19 virus can remain viable on a hard surface for hours or days, so it’s important to pay attention to the high-touch parts of a home, and especially those you normally don’t disinfect.

Fortunately, you don’t need industrial cleaning products to disinfect your home. Many of the cleaners that are probably already in your cabinet and help cut down on the spread of bacteria and viruses are also effective in killing the coronavirus.

“What’s most important for consumers to realize is what they can do ... isn’t too far different from their regular cleaning practices,” says Brian Sansoni, senior vice president of communications, outreach and membership at the American Cleaning Institute, an organization that represents the makers of cleaning products, based in the District of Columbia.

Here are 12 places in your home to clean to prevent the spread of illness, including the COVID-19 virus:

Light Switches

Handles

Hard-Backed Chairs

Desks

Tables

Countertops

Toilets

Faucets

Sinks

Remote Controls

Toiletries and Makeup

Your toothpaste, face wash and even makeup containers are items you probably touch once or twice a day but never get cleaned. Viruses aside, Williams points out that people often touch the toothpaste tube to brush their teeth after having gone to the bathroom without washing their hands first.

As you disinfect, it’s important to use the right products and practices to kill bacteria and viruses on surfaces, but also to reduce the chances that you're spreading germs around the house.

Here are five tips to clean your home effectively to reduce the spread of the coronavirus:

  • Wash your hands.
  • Wear gloves while cleaning.
  • Disinfect consistently.
  • Read the cleaner and disinfectant label.
  • Read up on alternatives if you run out of cleaning products.

Wash your hands. The CDC stresses that it’s imperative to wash your hands frequently to prevent the spread of the coronavirus or other viruses and bacteria. “When I walk into the house, the first place I go is to the bathroom, and I do a really thorough washing of hands with a disinfectant hand soap,” Williams says.

Wear gloves while cleaning. To avoid picking up a virus while cleaning, the CDC advises that you should wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in your home, and throw them away after use. If you only have reusable gloves, be sure you’ve dedicated them for cleaning purposes only. You should still wash your hands before and after cleaning even when you wear gloves.

Disinfect consistently. While you’re concerned about exposure to a virus, disinfecting frequently is key. But don’t douse your entire home in bleach. “You don’t have to over-clean (and) you don’t have to panic-clean, but just touch up a few spots more than you might regularly clean, because there’s more foot traffic at home,” Sansoni says.

Read the cleaner and disinfectant label. Not all sprays listed as cleaners will kill viruses and bacteria, so be sure to read the label before using. “Any EPA-approved disinfectant will kill almost any virus or bacteria because they’re fragile outside the body,” Williams says. Also be sure to follow directions on the label; some disinfectants need to sit on a surface for a few minutes before you wipe them away to effectively kill viruses.

Read up on alternatives if you run out of cleaning products. Finding household cleaning products in the store is difficult right now, so if you run out, take stock of other possible cleaning products you can use. For surfaces that will not be damaged by bleach, you can dilute bleach with water and use it as a disinfectant solution. “You’d wind up having to deal with the smell, but it’s effective,” Williams says. Be sure to read the label for proper dilution, and avoid mixing bleach with chemicals that could be a dangerous combination.

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