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With the rising tide of COVID-19 infections, store shelves continue to be wiped clean of common household disinfectant products. The virus has been shown to live for up to three days on some items, so experts recommend cleaning and disinfecting your home regularly. To maximize effectiveness and decrease the chances of contracting COVID-19, follow these tips for cleaning and disinfecting.

Clean and Disinfect
Although the two may sound synonymous, they are very different.

Cleaning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, refers to removing germs, dirt and other impurities from surfaces. It does not kill germs, but reduces their numbers and thus the risk of spreading infection.

Do this by wiping surfaces with soapy water or a cleaning spray and towel or paper towel.

Disinfecting refers to using chemicals to kill pathogens (germs) on surfaces in order to reduce the risk of spreading infection.

Do this by applying a disinfectant appropriate for the surface you are cleaning, either in a spray or wipe form. Click here for a list of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered disinfectants. 

Examples of EPA-registered disinfectants approved to kill COVID-19 include:

  • Bleach
  • Hydrogen Peroxide (3%)
  • Isopropyl Alcohol (with 70% or greater alcohol)

Target the Most-Used Areas
Take measures to clean and disinfect these high-touch areas daily:

  • Doorknobs
  • Countertops and tables
  • Solid dining chairs or barstools
  • Bathroom counters
  • Sink fixtures
  • Toilets, including the seat and handle
  • Light switches

Homemade Disinfectant
If store-bought disinfectants are unavailable, a simple bleach solution is effective. Spray or wipe onto the surface and let sit for 10 minutes to disinfect, wiping away with a wet cloth.

To make a bleach solution, mix:
    5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) bleach per gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water (in a spray bottle)

Areas You Might Be Missing

  • Electronics: Clean and disinfect cellphones (here’s how to do so safely), tablets, computer equipment, tv remotes and game controllers.
  • Soft Surfaces: For soft or porous surfaces such as carpet, rugs and drapes, use an appropriate surface cleaner and disinfectant, taking care to follow any manufacturer instructions to prevent damage.
  • Laundry: For linens, clothes and other washable items, machine washing with detergent is sufficient to kill the virus. If you are handling clothes worn by a sick person or someone who may have been in contact with a sick person, you should wear gloves and wash your hands immediately after handling soiled laundry. Linens and clothes should be washed on the warmest setting the material can tolerate, and dried completely.