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Insurance Article

COVID-19: How to Sanitise Your Home Effectively

June 11 2020

Home is where the heart is….but also where the germs are at?

Spray disinfectant solution on table 
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How long does COVID-19 virus live on surfaces? Can coronavirus be transferred via grocery items? Should I wash my vegetables in a soap solution? How often do I disinfect surfaces? Should I sun the grocery items I’ve bought? COVID-19 has changed how we perceive things. For example, a quirky, eye-catching door handle or knocker is now just another often touched surface that must be disinfected on the regular. Mundane chores have now acquired a sense of urgency that belies their innocuous nature.

But we aren’t here to help you ace your household chores with a Stepford wife precision for Instagram-worthy results. We’re here with pointers that we hope will help effectively answer (one of) the most pertinent questions – How do I disinfect/sanitise my home to stay safe? Before we begin here are a few things to take note of -

Keep in mind the following difference:

Cleaning v/s Disinfecting

Cleaning means clearing contaminants from the surface.

Process of disinfecting helps in getting rid of harmful pathogens.

Essentials you’ll need:

Disinfecting wipes, disinfectant sprays, disposable or reusable gloves, detergent, 70% isopropyl alcohol solution, bleach

Frequency

Set up a task-list and prioritise high-touch surfaces such as door knobs, handles, toilets, kitchen countertop, and faucets should be cleaned and disinfected routinely. While COVID-19 transmission occurs mainly through respiratory droplets, surface transmission can also take place. Early evidence suggests that the coronavirus can live on surfaces. Hence, cleaning surfaces or things that you or your family may be touching frequently becomes imperative. A publication by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas mentions, “Coronaviruses are surrounded by a lipid membrane and have a single-stranded RNA genome. This is important because the lipid membrane is very sensitive to soap and the RNA genome is very sensitive to UV light. In general, these are very sensitive microorganisms that don’t survive a long time without a host.” Ergo, frequent disinfection and cleaning goes a long way in keeping the virus at bay.

Here’s how to go about sanitizing your home

Let’s scratch sanitise the surface

As mentioned previously, Table tops, handles, the kitchen slab, children’s toys are all areas that require frequent cleaning. According to the CDC, the above should be cleaned using regular household cleaning agents. You can also use a mixture of soap and water. Remember to wear disposable gloves when you’re on a cleaning spree. If you’re using reusable gloves for cleaning or disinfecting surfaces for the purpose of COVID-19, set them aside and ensure that you don’t use them for any other task. As per UNICEF guidelines, “It’s important not to wipe cleaning solutions off as soon as you have applied it to a surface. Many disinfectant products, such as wipes and sprays, need to stay wet on a surface for several minutes in order to be effective.”

Cleaning electronics

Keyboards, tablets remotes, mobile phones should all be cleaned frequently using alcohol-based wipes, preferably a make with a high percentage of alcohol content. Make sure to read the manufacturer’s directions and recommendations for cleaning all electronic items. You can also use these wipes to clean board games, something everyone in the family must be making frequent use of considering we’re all homebound these days.

Also read: Life after lockdown: 7 mistakes you should avoid to stay safe from COVID-19

Soft surfaces

Curtains, carpets, sofa covers, bed sheets should be cleaned from time-to-time using warm water, appropriate detergent and a disinfectant. If you have a washing machine at home, wash the items in warm water. Read instructions carefully just in case you have items that may shrink. Do not shake dirty laundry and wash your hands thoroughly after handling dirty laundry. Don’t forget to disinfect the laundry basket too from time to time.

Handling and prepping food

There are some activities that we cannot put a full stop to. A grocery run is one of them. Browsing the shelves, an innocuous activity pre-COVID comes with its own set of risks now. You have no way of knowing who and how many have handled a packet that you’re now loading into your shopping cart. Same goes for food that you may be ordering in. So if you’re returning home post a grocery run or receiving a takeout order from the delivery person, first things first – wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds. Discard the packet you have received your food in. If you’re using a cloth bag (really you should!) for your errands, put it away for wash. Empty the contents of your takeout into clean utensils. Try and limit your errands; buy enough to at least last you a week or two.

Now, before getting down to the chore of the day, don’t forget –

  • Store cleaning agents, bleach, etc. away from the reach of children and pets too.
  • If you’re using bleach or alcohol as a disinfecting agent, ensure that the solution is properly diluted.
  • Leave the bleach solution on a hard surface for at least a minute before wiping it off.
  • Ensure the room is well ventilated.
  • Wear gloves while you’re cleaning and disinfecting and store those gloves separately after completing the work, if they’re reusable.
  • Use only the recommended amount mentioned on the cleaning labels.
  • The shoes you wear when stepping outside should be stored separately.
  • While sanitising your home, also treat packages that you have received with caution. A wipe down with a disinfectant won’t hurt.
  • If you live with a person that has contracted the virus or is displaying coronavirus symptoms, stringent guidelines and protocols regarding confinement and disinfection should be followed. Consult/get in touch with relevant authorities regarding the same.

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