How to Properly Disinfect Surfaces

You’ve probably heard the advice ad nauseam by now: In addition to washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, you can lower your chances of catching or spreading COVID-19 by disinfecting surfaces around your apartment. Just as handwashing that lasts less than 20 seconds is significantly less effective at preventing COVID-19 transmission, improperly disinfecting surfaces doesn’t fully lessen your potential for COVID-19 exposure. Here’s how to properly disinfect surfaces around your apartment to lessen your chances of spreading the coronavirus.

disinfect surfaces

Disinfect high-touch surfaces at least once daily

The first thing to know about disinfecting surfaces is that “high-touch” surfaces require daily disinfection. The apartment surfaces that comprise the “high-touch” category include doorknobs, faucets and faucet knobs, toilet seats and handles, kitchen and bathroom counters, tabletops, hard dining chairs, light switches, TV remotes, and game controllers. Additionally, you should disinfect personal surfaces such as cell phones, keys, and wallets.

Which substances can I use to disinfect surfaces?

Soap and water are great for washing your hands, but they don’t do the trick when it comes time to disinfect surfaces around your home. Instead, you’ll need to use disinfecting wipes, disinfecting sprays, isopropyl alcohol (also known as rubbing alcohol), or hydrogen peroxide. If you’re unsure whether a substance is a disinfectant, then look on its container for claims such as “kills 99.9% of germs.” As a last resort, you can also combine two tablespoons of household bleach with one quart of water to make a disinfecting spray.

What equipment will I need to disinfect surfaces?

When you disinfect surfaces, you should always wear disposable gloves that you discard after you finish cleaning. Alternatively, you can commit one pair of reusable latex gloves to solely cleaning purposes, and you should always store these gloves away from other objects. Even if you wear gloves, you should wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds after you disinfect surfaces in your apartment.

Can I disinfect clothes?

You should never apply disinfectants directly to clothes. Instead, you should wash clothes in a washing machine on the warmest possible setting if you think you need to disinfect them. You can disinfect hampers, hangers, and other surfaces used to store clothes if you think doing so is necessary.

What if I live with somebody showing signs of COVID-19?

Disinfecting surfaces becomes even more important if you live with somebody showing signs of COVID-19. The novel coronavirus primarily passes from person to person through airborne virus droplets that emanate from people’s noses and mouths when they breathe, speak, cough, or sneeze, but these droplets can rest on surfaces and survive there for hours to days. Thus, if you live with a symptomatic person, you should disinfect surfaces as often as possible.

Additionally, a person with COVID-19 should isolate themselves in one room of your apartment when possible. If your apartment has more than one bathroom, dedicate one for only the ill person to use while they’re symptomatic. Make sure that any silverware or other shared, non-disposable items the person uses aren’t shared among roommates. Maximize airflow in shared spaces, if possible, with an air conditioner or simply by opening windows. Above all, never touch your eyes, nose, or mouth unless you’ve thoroughly washed your hands first.

How often did you disinfect surfaces before the pandemic, and how often do you disinfect surfaces now? Why are you disinfecting surfaces as often as you do now? Share your advice in the comments.

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