Now that businesses and office buildings are reopening despite the current pandemic, many of their employees are wondering how to clean coronavirus off of their desks and office countertops. You also may be wondering if there’s a better way to clean your home, now that we know a little more about COVID-19. The answer isn’t an easy one because every home and office is different.
So, using information from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention and the most recent studies, here’s how you can approach cleaning for coronavirus.
The Difference Between Cleaning and Disinfecting
The first thing to understand is that there is a difference between cleaning and disinfection.
This is how the CDC explains the difference between cleaning and disinfecting. These guidelines are focused on household settings and are meant for the general public.
- Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt and impurities from surfaces. It does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
- Disinfecting refers to using chemicals, for example, EPA-registered disinfectants, to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.
So, if you’re rinsing or wiping dirt off your countertops, that’s considered cleaning. But if you’re using a disinfectant spray and then wiping things down, it is the better way to go.
How to Clean for Coronavirus at Home
Now the question is “What should I use to disinfect?”
Bleach is commonly used as a disinfectant. You can buy it with a concentration ranging from 5.25% to 8.25% of the active ingredient sodium hypochlorite (NaClO). But studies show that a concentration as small as 0.1% of sodium hypochlorite is effective at inactivating coronavirus in 1 minute. That is why the World Health Organization recommends a dilution of 1:50 of standard bleach in the coronavirus setting.
Ethanol can also be effective in disinfecting small surfaces. The WHO recommends products with a concentration of 70% ethanol. You can also use a solution with 0.5% hydrogen peroxide, as it revealed a similar efficacy against coronavirus.
You can find sprays in the store containing these disinfectants, just read the label carefully. You can also try buying disinfecting wipes. These wipes can eliminate the coronavirus on hard surfaces in your home — countertops, bathroom fixtures, doorknobs, light switches, and tile and some wood floors — but not on fabric and other soft materials. The CDC provides a guide to cleaning household items (like phones), too.
Some are even EPA-approved to clean hard surfaces. But if you do use an EPA-registered household disinfectant, follow the instructions on the label to ensure safe and effective use of the product. The EPA even provides an infographic on how to use these disinfectant products.
If you don’t have wipes (or they’re all sold out) a paper towel with a spray disinfectant will do the job.
What (and How) to Disinfect at Work
The CDC also shares some guidance on how and what to disinfect at your office or facility. When you’re disinfecting, they recommend wearing disposable gloves. Their researchers also say that you should clean surfaces with soap and water first, then use a disinfectant. That’s often called “deep cleaning.”
Frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned regularly.
- More frequent cleaning and disinfection may be required based on the level of use.
- Surfaces and objects in public places, such as shopping carts and point-of-sale keypads should be cleaned and disinfected before each use.
High-touch surfaces include:
- Tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks.
Cleaning and disinfecting, combined with masks and regular hand-washing should make offices and other facilities safe.
As our offices start welcoming more in-person patient visits, you can expect to walk into a facility that is safe. You can see some of the precautionary measures we are taking to keep you safe when you visit our offices.
The steps we’re taking to contain the coronavirus are similar to the tactics you can use to stop the spread of other illnesses, like influenza. Our guide “ How to Get Rid of The Flu” provides additional virus-stopping tips.