COVID-19: Cleaning and Disinfecting at Home

Keeping a clean home is one way to prevent the spread of COVID-19. In this post, we will go over best practices for keeping your home clean and virus-free.

Cleaning vs Disinfecting

First things first. Cleaning is not the same as disinfecting. Cleaning is the removal of dirt and other particles from a surface. Disinfecting is the killing of bacteria and viruses. Cleaning products may not be effective at killing bacteria and viruses and disinfectants may not be effective at removing dirt and other particles.

EPA-Approved Disinfectants

To make sure that the disinfectant you're using is effective against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, refer to the EPA-approved list of disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2. When browsing through the list, click on the "Other Search Options" button to search by product name, company, active ingredient, and contact time. When using a product on this list, make sure you follow the specified recommended contact time, which can range from 30 seconds to 10 minutes.

What is contact time? Disinfectants do not kill bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens instantaneously. There is a minimum contact time required for the disinfectant to do its job. The disinfectant must be left on the surface for the contact time duration before it can be removed.

Alternatives to List N products include 10% bleach solution, or 70% alcohol solution using ethanol or isopropyl alcohol. 10% bleach solutions must be made fresh daily; they lose their efficacy after 24 hours of being made. Contact time for these homemade disinfectant solutions is at least 1 minute (5 minutes is recommended).

Cleaning and Disinfecting Practices

Cleaning your entire home on a daily basis is not needed, however, surfaces frequently touched should be disinfected at least daily. These surfaces include:

  • doorknobs

  • faucets

  • light switches

  • computer keyboards and mice

  • drawer/cabinet pulls/handles

  • refrigerator/oven handles

  • toilet seats/handles

  • table surfaces

  • kitchen/bathroom counters

Grouping items to clean by location or by type can help you stay focused and organized. For example, you can clean one entire room one section at a time; starting from top to bottom, left to right. You could also clean all of the doorknobs first, then move on to light switches, etc.

When cleaning or disinfecting, make sure you wear chemical resistant gloves. During the pandemic, it might be difficult to find dispo