The novel Coronavirus has taken the world by surprise. It seems that, in 2020, we have forgotten that pandemics can still exist, that they have a lethality and recovery rate, and that they can do significant damage to our loved ones and our society as we know it.
While it is true that this type of pathogen seems to be more contagious compared to other, similar viruses, there are still several ways in which you can prevent it from getting in your home and in contact with yourself and your loved ones.
Start with thoroughly washing your hands
Even as of today, just a few countries across the world have imposed restrictions according to which people aren’t allowed to go out of the house unless for groceries, their daily walk or run, or important things such as an appointment to their physician, you should still be careful when going out.
You don’t have to disinfect each and every thing in your home, and you shouldn’t even wear a mask when you’re out and about if you can’t find any available for sale. But there are some things that you can do every time you come back from a shopping trip so as to remove any pathogen and be sure that your interactions with your loved ones are safe.
Ideally, you should cover your entry doorknobs with some cloth and spray a sodium hypochlorite solution (Clorox is fine) on them whenever you intend to go out. If you don’t have any gloves, don’t worry about anything.
While you are out, avoid touching your face with your bare hands because you can’t know whether the surfaces that you have touched have been contaminated.
Because this virus is capable of lasting on surfaces for a longer period of time compared to others, you should try to place several cardboard boxes next to the door so that you take your shoes off when returning home and store them in them. Use several for more people living in the same house and just one for one individual.
Don’t wear the same shoes you have worn outside indoors. Disinfecting the outsole of a pair of shoes is complicated, but if you keep them in a designated place and not touch them for several days, they’re basically going to be virus-free.
Needless to say, when you take one of your shoes off, step inside of the house, not outside, so that you don’t contaminate your socks. Close the door and lock it and then spray an alcohol solution (at least 70%) on your keys so as to disinfect them. Wipe them as best as possible.
Immediately go to a sink and wash your hands for 20 seconds, without touching any doorknobs. Ideally, you should leave your bathroom or kitchen door open before leaving so that you don’t have to touch the doorknobs.
What spaces you should clean first
Your entry area is the one that’s going to get as much exposure as possible, so we recommend using a sodium hypochlorite solution to clean your floors and kill any viruses present on them. There is a risk of you carrying the pathogen on your socks, so if you really want to be on the safe side of things, you can even change your socks once you get home and throw the presumably contaminated ones into the washer.
Your doorknobs and light switches should be disinfected using a hypochlorite solution as often as possible. This will ensure that they haven’t been contaminated if you didn’t pay enough attention and touched them before washing your hands.
If it’s dark in your home, turn on the lights and leave them on until you get back home so that you do not touch the switches before washing your hands for 20 seconds. Turn off the lights only after sanitizing your hands.
Clean the spaces where you spend most of your time as often as possible. Once a day would be ideal, but using chloride in the bedroom and the rest of the house can be difficult to take as the solution tends to have an unpleasant smell and is also quite toxic.
Instead, you can use concentrated alcohol (at least 70%). Please do not use antibacterial wipes as many of them contain chlorhexidine, and none of the substances with the exception of sodium hypochlorite, chloride, and strong alcohol have been found to be effective against this pathogen.
How long do the novel Coronavirus and others survive on surfaces?
SARS-CoV-2 is viable in aerosols for up to 2.7 hours, and it can survive on surfaces for days. It can survive on cardboard for as many as 24 hours, and most of the tests that have been performed have shown that it survives on plastic and metal surfaces for as long as 3 days.
On average, it can survive on cardboard for less than 9 hours, on steel for around 14 hours, and on plastic for approximately 16 hours. On copper, it survives for just 3.4 hours.
If you intend to order food online, it’s likely that you will get it in a cardboard box. There are two ways of going about things, in this case. You can take the box and store it in a place where you don’t touch it for three days, but that applies only if you don’t have anything that can spoil quickly in there.
You can also get the products out of the box and soak them in very hot water (at least 52 degrees C) and then wash them with soap. To be even safer, you could even spray them with the chloride or hypochlorite solution and leave them be for half an hour. Then clean them with running water. Wash your hands thoroughly after this operation or use disposable gloves.
Once again, if you really don’t need anything out of that box, you can simply put it somewhere unreachable and keep it there for 3 days. The reason we mentioned ‘unreachable’ is that if you have pets, they will most likely be curious and want to know what’s the deal with the box, so they’ll touch it. Wash your hands after handling the package and then sanitize your handles.
How to clean leather and fabric
Unfortunately, leather and fabric aren’t two materials that can be sanitized properly in a pandemic or epidemic caused by a virus. The only way of preventing you from getting contaminated would be to avoid touching the sofa or whatever piece of furniture with leather or fabric upholstery for as many as three days.
You can vacuum your sofa and upholstery, but the fact is that it’s not going to remove the pathogen. Of course, if you don’t want to damage your sofa, do not use chloride or sodium hypochlorite on it — it will be like bleaching your sofa, armchairs, or upholstered stairs. To avoid all of this hassle, make sure you sanitize yourself and your entry area each time you come back home.
How to clean the rest of your furniture
Wiping your furniture clean with a solution of alcohol (at least 70%) is the right way of going about things if you want to protect it against any pathogens. However, we’d argue that sanitizing yourself each time you get into the house and cleaning the entry area is the most important thing here.
If you ensure this, you can rest assured that the rest of your house is not contaminated. Therefore, you can use your regular pet-safe cleaners for the rest of the house.
How often should you clean your floors?
As often as possible. Clean the area next to your door entry several times a day or however many times you get out of the house. Chloride and sodium hypochlorite (0.5 to 1% solution) are particularly good for the purpose. Just make sure that you use the right dilution because they can be toxic both for humans and for pets if the solution is too concentrated.
Clean the rest of your floors as per usual, so every couple of days. This will make it possible for you and your family to avoid developing other types of infections, mostly caused by bacteria.
The point here is that some bacteria are harmless, but there are some types that can be pathogenic and that can cause serious damage to your respiratory system if you also develop a cold, get the flu, or the novel Coronavirus. That’s why keeping your living space as clean as possible is paramount.
Where do germs tend to hide?
Your smartphone is a great place where germs can grow and reproduce, so be sure to sanitize it whenever you get home, too. If you don’t want to use a sanitizing solution or 70% alcohol, you can invest in a UV sanitizer (which, by the way, can be used for several other things, not just your smartphone). Your cell is particularly dangerous because it comes in direct contact with your face.
Even when there is no danger of you contracting a novel virus, you should still sanitize your phone every day. Some studies have found that bacteria such as Staphylococcus can grow on your smartphone, so do keep that in mind.
The same goes for your TV remote, so rub it with some alcohol every day. Your laptop and keyboard are two other potential places where lots of germs can grow, and not necessarily the novel Coronavirus. Wipe them with some alcohol, too, if you can. Pretty much the entirety of your office space can be filled with germs if it isn’t cleaned regularly.
You might have seen reports of people beginning to avoid paying with cash. They’re doing the right thing – cash can be vectors of a plethora of microorganisms, including SARS-CoV-2.
So, germs can be everywhere and anywhere. But you shouldn’t fear them. There are many effective methods of preventing infection with the novel Coronavirus, too, and those that we have highlighted in this article are definitely helpful. Rely on them to stay safe, you and your family.