Like many of us, I've been reading so many different suggestions on how we should be cleaning our home, belongings and clothes to protect ourselves and our families from COVID-19. Does the virus live in our clothes, on our mail, on our groceries? How do we safely kill it?
By now you’ve probably heard that the virus can live for varying periods of time on different surfaces. A recent study found that the virus can survive up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. Researchers have also found that the virus can remain as droplets in the air for up to three hours before they fall.
Make regular handwashing a part of your regular routine. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after your return from outside, if you’ve wiped your nose or sneezed, or used the restroom. Add it to your schedule, every hour wash them again.
If you’re out and don’t have access to soap and water, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. A few weeks ago, we released our Lavender Hand Sanitizer, which contains 70% alcohol, and just this week we announced that an unscented hand sanitizer is now available! Start using hand sanitizer before you go into a store to protect others, and then regularly until you can reach a sink to use soap and water. To properly use hand sanitizer, apply to the palms of your hands and rub until your hands are completely dry (about 30 seconds).
While research is ongoing, the common understanding is that the virus cannot survive for long on your clothing, or any porous surface (for example, cardboard). Unless you’re in direct, close contact with a sick person, your clothing is unlikely to transmit the virus to you.
The important thing to do when you're disinfecting your home and car is to thoroughly clean high traffic, high-touch non-porous surfaces regularly. So remember:
- Stove knobs and buttons
- Light switches and plates
- Cabinet knobs and drawer-pulls
- Remote controls
- External doorknobs
- Steering wheel
- Car door handles (internal and external)
- All high-touch areas of your car (don’t forget seat belts!)
It’s also good to understand that what you need to do to kill COVID-19 on surfaces is to disinfect rather than to simply clean. You must use a disinfectant that will kill the virus, and not just move it around. The EPA has posted a list of EPA-confirmed disinfectants that will clean the COVID-19 virus here. If you can’t get your hands on one of these products, and you have regular household bleach at home, the CDC recommends a diluted bleach solution of ⅓ cup bleach per 1 gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per 1 quart of water to effectively kill COVID-19 off surfaces. Never mix bleach with ammonia. They have also recommended that you use so that the surfaces remain visibly wet after wiping, and to leave the solution on the surfaces for 10 seconds before wiping away.
As always, if you feel at all unwell, stay home. Reduce the trips you make out of your home as much as possible and stay safely 6 feet away from anyone outside of your immediate household. Being diligent about these new routines will keep you, your family and others safe.
The information in this post comes from the following sources:
New England Complex Systems Institute
CORONAVIRUS GUIDELINES FOR CLEANING AND DISINFECTING TO PREVENT COVID-19 TRANSMISSION
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: CLEANING AND DISINFECTING FOR HOUSEHOLDS
New York Times: Is the Virus on My Clothes? My Shoes? My Hair? My Newspaper?
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Show Me the Science – When & How to Use Hand Sanitizer in Community Settings