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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 disposable gloves; reusable gloves for kitchen/bathroom cleaning are alternatives that can be easily found in stores. Make sure to follow all instructions on the cleaner's/disinfectant's label, including the appropriate contact time for disinfection. When finished cleaning, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water.

Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Home When Someone in Your Household Has COVID-19

If someone in your household has tested positive for COVID-19, isolate them as much as possible from the rest of household. Cleaning and disinfecting the areas occupied by the COVID-19 positive person should be minimized to only when necessary; the following tips are to prevent transmission of the disease while cleaning:

  • wear gloves when handling items in the sick person's area and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and after after exiting the area

  • if possible, have the sick person clean their area

  • if someone else has to clean and disinfect, only clean and disinfect the areas around the sick person and limit contact with the sick person while doing so

  • if bathrooms are shared between the sick person and others in the household, disinfect the bathroom after each use or wait at least 15 minutes before entering the bathroom after it is used

  • when handling dirty clothes, do not shake them

We understand that there are many unknowns and uncertainties related to COVID-19 and we want to help address these concerns. If you have any questions about how to deal with an issue related to COVID-19, at work or at home, you can contact us at


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