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.
[Read: How to Declutter Your Home]
Here are 12 places in your home to clean to prevent the spread of illness, including the COVID-19 virus:
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.
[Read: What's That Smell in My House?]
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.
Revamp your laundry room.
An organized laundry room can make your daily chores easier. And one that also looks good can help your home appeal to future buyers. In June, the National Association of Home Builders released a report of millennial homebuying preferences, which showed that a laundry room was the most popular "must-have" listed by this group, which currently makes up the largest share of homebuyers in the market. Want to improve the look of your laundry room? Read on for 10 organization and design ideas.Go from a laundry area to a laundry room.
Go from a laundry area to a laundry room.
If your washing machine and dryer occupy a lonely corner in your unfinished basement, you need to do some work before you can call the space a laundry room. Home improvement cost-comparison site Fixr reports that the national average cost to remodel a laundry room is between $6,000 and $7,000, but the bottom line can increase significantly depending on the work needed. Installing water hookups and drains, proper venting, drywall, new floors, counters and cabinets will add up. On the other hand, if the room is already established, the project can be done at a lower cost.Install cabinets and shelves.
Install cabinets and shelves.
Declutter the overall look of your laundry room by installing cabinets and shelves to hold laundry detergent, dryer sheets and any other items you’d like to keep in the space. Envisioning the custom cabinetry you saw on Pinterest? Keep in mind that there’s no difference in cost for cabinets in your laundry room and cabinets in your kitchen, outside of less square footage. You may opt to splurge on custom cabinets that fit your washer and dryer perfectly, stick with shelves and racks you install yourself or go somewhere in between with stock cabinetry options. “There’s pretty high-quality construction with stock (cabinets),” says Dan DiClerico, home expert and smart home strategist for HomeAdvisor. A simple shelf you install yourself can be as low as $15, according to HomeAdvisor, or you can spend anywhere from $150 to more than $1,000 for a more elaborate setup.Build a system to separate your clothes.
Build a system to separate your clothes.
Make separating your colors, whites, darks and delicates easy with separate laundry baskets for each type of clothing. Then, as you go about swapping loads, you don’t have to repeatedly sort through a big pile of mixed clothes. For organization, install a rack or set up a drawer set so you can store the laundry baskets or bins vertically. The Container Store’s Elfa system, best known for closet organization, also offers mesh laundry sorter options with varied basket sizes based on how big your load sizes may be, starting at about $140. Unused bookshelves or an old dresser could also be converted to a laundry basket organizer.Create a folding station.
Create a folding station.
Give yourself a space to fold your clean clothes in the laundry room. Options include splurging on a professional countertop installation, opting for minimal effort by setting up a folding table or taking on a DIY project for affordable customization. You could build a table that fits the exact measurements of the available space in your laundry room – a fairly simple woodworking project – or get a little fancier with a hinged tabletop that hangs from the wall and can be folded up when not in use.Make space for drying and hanging racks.
Make space for drying and hanging racks.
For your nicer clothes, hanging them immediately after drying or even skipping the dry cycle altogether is key to keeping them in good condition. Make this easier by creating space in your laundry room to hang items so they can dry. A portable closet may do the trick, or you could install a hanging rod or PVC pipe. Home Depot offers a variety of drying racks, both free-standing and wall-mounted, that range from $17 to $120. For a more stylish option, Pottery Barn offers a wall-mounted drying rack with a galvanized metal frame for $99.Store your ironing board.
Store your ironing board.
When you’re not actively working the wrinkles out of your clothes, you need a place to put your ironing board. For more efficient storage, go with an ironing board hanger, many of which include a spot for your iron and can be screwed into the wall or simply hung over the back of a door. Ironing board hangers range in price on Amazon from $8 to a little over $20 – but make sure you select a hanger that will fit your board and iron. You could also go for a more vintage look and create an ironing board cabinet that's common in midcentury modern homes – when you open the cabinet door, you can fold down the ironing board and begin working on clothes.Opt for reusable containers.
Opt for reusable containers.
To avoid styling your laundry room like the detergent aisle at your grocery store, transfer your powder detergent, dryer sheets and other items to reusable glass or plastic containers. Large, clear jars with lids will provide an organized look while also making it easy to see what’s inside. You may even choose to replace a liquid detergent container with a large jar with a spout (but keep the cap from the original bottle for correct measurement). Plenty of stores, ranging from The Container Store to Walmart, offer a variety of glass and plastic containers that could meet your needs.Designate a spot for mismatched socks.
Designate a spot for mismatched socks.
Whether it’s a small bin near your laundry baskets or a string with clothespins on the back of the wall, a designated place for single socks and other items missing their match will help keep your laundry room more organized. This is a simple addition that can cost anywhere from nothing to $10. You can opt to keep it simple with a basket or string, or decorate a piece of wood with hooks or pins to hang on the wall for a more personal touch. Just don’t forget to occasionally go through the mismatched socks and other pieces of clothing – you may have full sets sitting in there waiting to be used.Stick to an organizing schedule.
Stick to an organizing schedule.
Just because you have a room designated for laundry and all the supplies that go with it doesn’t mean you should let the room become a catch-all for all your extra items. Once you’ve established an organizational system in your laundry room, it’s important to keep up with it. Maintaining a well-organized room requires consistent work, says Tracy McCubbin, founder of organizing company dClutterfly and author of “Making Space, Clutter Free.” Dedicate time every week or two to manage the piles of clothes that build up, as well as cleaning products or other items that don’t get put back properly. Make this task part of your regular cleaning schedule. As McCubbin stresses: “Once a week, you need to spend a little time decluttering.”Find a place for extra cleaning products.
Find a place for extra cleaning products.
Consider utilizing unused space in your laundry room for other cleaning products. Racks can hang from the wall or behind a door, or additional shelves can be placed over your washer and dryer, sink or folding station. You can even transform the narrow spot next to your washing machine by getting a narrow rolling cart. These carts are easily tucked away and come in a variety of styles. Wayfair lists multiple options, starting around $16 and going over $45.Here are 10 laundry room design and organization ideas:
Here are 10 laundry room design and organization ideas:
- Go from laundry area to laundry room.
- Install cabinets and shelves.
- Build a system to separate your clothes.
- Create a folding station.
- Make space for drying and hanging racks.
- Store your ironing board.
- Opt for reusable containers.
- Designate a spot for mismatched socks.
- Stick to an organizing schedule.
- Find a place for extra cleaning products.
She has appeared in media interviews across the U.S. including National Public Radio, WTOP (Washington, D.C.) and KOH (Reno, Nevada) and various print publications, as well as having served on panels discussing real estate development, city planning policy and homebuilding.
Previously, she served as a researcher of commercial real estate transactions and information, and is currently a member of the National Association of Real Estate Editors. Thorsby studied Political Science at the University of Michigan, where she also served as a news reporter and editor for the student newspaper The Michigan Daily. Follow her on Twitter or write to her at email@example.com.