Cleaning and Disinfecting
Although the virus that causes COVID-19 is related to the common cold, its status as a “novel virus” means that it is a new virus, and the more scientists study it, the more we will know about how to control it and what exactly we need to do to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. So far, what we do know is that cleaning and disinfecting are extremely powerful tools against COVID-19.
According to the World Health Organization, the virus is transmitted through droplets that come from an infected person’s mouth, nose, or eyes (such as when they sneeze or cough), and these droplets can pass through the air or remain on surfaces. Therefore, it is important to be particularly vigilant about cleaning and disinfecting when coming into contact with surfaces that an infected person – who very well might not even know they are infected – might have touched. The NIH (National Institutes of Health) recommends cleaning and disinfecting “frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.” In the kitchen, this means door handles and knobs, the sink, appliances, countertops, and any other areas and objects that are used frequently.
ACleaning combined with disinfecting serves to both remove (cleaning) and kill (disinfecting) germs. This two-step process is the best way to make sure your kitchen is free of the virus, and it also needs to be done in this order – clean first, disinfect second – so that the disinfectant can be as effective as possible.
What Products Should I Use?
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends using water and soap or detergent for cleaning hard (non-porous) surfaces, followed by a disinfectant. The disinfectant can be diluted bleach or one of the products listed by the Environmental Protection Agency for use against the virus that causes COVID-19. Many households already have products on this list, such as Lysol and Clorox. You can find the list by clicking on the link below (note that the document is 38 pages and you either need to download the .pdf or “view all” to be able to see all of the products):
For porous surfaces such as curtains and rugs, the CDC recommends cleaning with the appropriate cleaners and laundering at the warmest setting possible. You can also consult the list linked to above for products – just make sure they are also compatible with porous surfaces.
When disinfecting, be sure to wait the proper amount of time. Some disinfectants need to remain on the surface for several minutes before they dry or before being wiped off. These times will vary from product to product, so be sure to check the label. Additionally, it is advised to wear disposable gloves while cleaning and disinfecting and then washing your hands for 20 seconds after removing the gloves.
Finally, if your dishwasher has a sanitizing cycle, be sure to use that setting. The Wall Street Journal reports that when a machine is certified by NSF International, the sanitizing cycle can lead to a 99.999% reduction of bacteria.