CareNow® - June 02, 2020

As the country executes plans for reopening the economy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released a guide to help businesses, schools, and homeowners disinfect to protect against the coronavirus.

Here are some ways to keep common surfaces sterilized during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Some of the best ways to clean surfaces in your home are:

Traditional soap and water are the first steps to cleaning surfaces around the house. Normal soap inactivates the virus and will greatly reduce the risk of exposure.

Next, use disinfectants (if warranted). The EPA has compiled a useful list of disinfectants (including sprays, concentrates, and wipes) that have proven effective against viruses. 

They recommend you look for products with active ingredients such as: quaternary ammonia, ethanol, hydrogen peroxide, and sodium hypochlorite (bleach).

If you don’t have ready-made disinfectants, you can still use common household chemicals to properly disinfect surfaces.

For example, try mixing one-third cup of bleach with one gallon of water, or use a 70% alcohol solution. It’s important you do not mix bleach with other cleaning products because that can cause harmful fumes.

Remember, please do not stockpile disinfectants because that can lead to shortages for others.

The best way to clean your groceries

Whichever way you get your groceries, you’ll want to handle them with care when you get them home. This will reduce the chance of spreading the virus to other people or surfaces in your house.

At the very least, wash your hands after unpacking and putting away your groceries.

If you’re concerned about any potential contamination of your groceries, here are some additional steps you can take to protect yourself:

  • Wipe or wash cans and boxes of food before you store them to reduce possible virus content.
  • When you’re done unpacking, wash any tables, countertops, or other surfaces that were touched by your groceries or grocery bags.
  • Dispose of grocery bags. 
  • Wash your hands again when finished.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers advice for cleaning and disinfecting your home during the pandemic, including which cleaners work best against coronavirus.

If you’re using cloth bags (although, some grocery chains temporarily aren't allowing personal re-usable bags), be sure to wash them with laundry soap in a washing machine and dry them thoroughly before reusing them.

What about cleaning other frequently used surfaces such as your phone?

One type of surface that we may be neglecting is the touch screens and carrying cases for our phones.

Touch screens on our devices are an often overlooked source of germs that can be brought into our personal space.

To clean your phone, you will want to consult the website for the manufacturer of your phone or carrying case for any specific instructions that they might have in order to avoid damaging your device or case.

Many manufacturers, including Apple, have provided recommendations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While specific instructions may vary depending on your device, Apple is advising the following for its products:

  • Use only a soft, lint-free cloth.
  • Avoid excessive wiping.
  • Unplug all power sources, devices, and cables.
  • Keep liquids away from your device.
  • Don’t allow moisture to get into any openings.
  • Avoid aerosol sprays, bleaches, and abrasives.
  • Avoid spraying cleaners directly onto your device.
  • Apple is recommending the use of 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipes or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes to wipe down any hard, nonporous surfaces.

You should avoid using chlorine bleach since this could damage your phone.

Keeping your phone in a sealed case will also make it easier to wipe it down with disinfectant wipes.

How often should you clean your phone?

As far as the frequency, this will vary with your habits.

If you are being diligent about washing your hands, you would need to clean the screen less often, maybe once or twice a day.

If you are putting your phone down on a potentially contaminated surface, washing your hands infrequently, etc, then more frequently is recommend.

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