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Cleaning and disinfecting your home during the cold/flu and coronavirus season

With people spending more time than ever at home, practicing social-distancing and avoiding even small gatherings, protecting yourself against the

flu and COVID-19 begins at home.  This means remaining vigilant and participating in safe practices at home. Cleaning, disinfecting and following a few basic steps with your laundry can go a long way, according to the CDC.

Cleaning VS disinfecting: what’s the difference

Cleaning removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects. Cleaning works by using soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove germs from surfaces.  This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.

Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects. Disinfecting works by using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces or objects. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces

or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

So which option is the best and which should you be doing at home?  The simple answer is BOTH. If a space is particularly dirty or used often, it should first be cleaned, and then disinfected.  Furthermore, you should always let the surface dry on its own rather than wiping it dry with a rag, or towel.  


What are they areas in my home that need to be cleaned often

The thought of keeping your entire house clean and disinfected can be daunting.  There are a number of high traffic areas in your home where germs thrive and should be disinfected daily.  These common areas include tables, hard-backed chairs, door knobs, light switches, remotes, handles, desks, toilets, and sinks.


Tips for cleaning and disinfecting according to the CDC

  1. Wear disposable gloves, if available, and discard after each use.  If you only have reusable gloves available, they should be used for COVID-19/flu cleaning purposes only and should be cleaned and disinfected after each use.  Wash hands after removing your gloves.
  2. Clean with household cleaners and EPA-registered disinfectants that are appropriate for the surface. Always follow label instructions. Make sure the room is well ventilated.
  3. Clean surfaces with detergent or soap and water prior to disinfecting.
  4. For disinfection, use diluted household bleach solutions, alcoholic solutions with at least 70% alcohol and common EPA-registered household disinfectants. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and ventilation. Make sure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. To prepare a bleach solution mix 5 tablespoons or 1/3 cup of bleach per gallon of water or 4 tablespoons bleach per quart of water.
  5. For carpets, or rugs remove any visible stains and clean with cleaners appropriate for these surfaces.  If able, lander items in the warmest water possible, and dry items completely. You may also use EPA-approved products that work well with porous surfaces.
  6. Wear gloves when handling dirty laundry, if possible.  If gloves are not available wash hands afterwards.
  7. Avoid shaking laundry to avoid dispersing any virus through the air.  Wash laundry on the warmest water option, and dry completely on a high heat setting, if possible. Clean and disinfect your clothing hamper often.  


Most of this information was obtained from the experts at the CDC.  Please refer to their website if you have any additional questions.

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