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March 28, 2020

How to clean your home to stop the spread of coronavirus infections

Beyond washing your hands, here is some advice how to disinfect the personal space where you live

Whether or not there is a known case of coronavirus in your home, experts say you need to be doing more than just washing your hands to prevent the spread of infection, even while self quarantining. 

The main way coronavirus spreads is through liquid droplets transmitted from an infected person to a healthy person, and it can travel up to three feet. But more research needs to be conducted to determine if the coronavirus can linger in the air and spread, as well as how long it can live on surfaces. 

That is why it's important to disinfect surfaces in your home frequently. Experts have shared steps that everyone can take inside their homes to prevent illness. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also has released a list of approved products, such as Purell, Lysol, and Clorox, to do so.

Cleaning if someone in your home has COVID-19

You can become infected with the coronavirus through objects that a sick person touches, especially "high-touch objects," such as door knobs, light switches, countertops, bathroom fixtures, food, and trash. 

Those with a known case of coronavirus that doesn't require hospitalization shouldn't leave their homes, and they should stay in one room as much as possible. Check out the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's advice on how to care for someone who is sick with coronavirus and how to clean your home in that instance.

Whenever cleaning the home, a person should be wearing disposable gloves that will be thrown out after use.

• CLEAN SURFACES: You can do preliminary cleansing of surfaces using soap and water to remove excess dirt and grime, the American Cleaning Institute says. However, cleaning without disinfecting does not kill germs, but reduces their ability to spread.

• DISINFECT HIGH-TOUCH SURFACES: Disinfecting after cleaning is one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of the coronavirus and other germs. You can use diluted bleach solutions on certain items to disinfect, following manufacturer's instructions. Household cleaners or disinfectants can also work, as well as alcohol based solutions with at least 70% alcohol, according to the CDC. Make sure to wear gloves and open windows or doors to ensure proper ventilation when using items that contain bleach.

• CLEAN SOFT SURFACESYou can wash soft surfaces with soap and water if the product allows, and then disinfect afterwards using EPA-approved products.

• CLEANING UP AFTER THOSE ILL: Trash from an infected person – like their used masks, food trash, tissues, or other waste – should be kept in a separate trash bag that can be sealed, the CDC advises. Trash cans should be lined with a plastic bag, which should be thrown out often. Wear gloves when washing food utensils or laundry touched by an infected person, according to the CDC. You should wash these items separately than sick people's.

Clean if no one in your home is sick

Someone in the home can have coronavirus even if no one is showing flu-like symptoms, so it is still important to follow proper procedures using cleaners that have been determined to kill the coronavirus. Additionally, any venture outside your home and into the public world increases the chance of infecting yourself, and bringing that infection back into the home. 

You should also wear disposable gloves when cleaning anything, so that they can be thrown out after use. 

• CLEAN YOURSELF: Wash your hands often with soap and water, or alcohol based hand sanitizer, WHO recommends. You should avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth, which can lead to infecting yourself. Since it is difficult to do this, it is best to wash or disinfect your hands as often as possible.

• DISINFECT AFTER RETURNING HOME: When you leave your house for essential activities like going to the grocery store or exercise, you should wash your hands and disinfect your phone afterwards. Also bring hand sanitizer with you. Hand sanitizers with more than 60% alcohol are most effective. Some also believe you should wash your clothes after going outside, but others think that this practice can be unnecessary when it distracts from things like hand-washing. 

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