Here's what a year of COVID-19 has taught us about cleaning everyday items
Disinfecting has become an art
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We've been living with the coronavirus for a year now, and during this time we've learned a lot about cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting.
When it comes to eradicating the coronavirus, here are the basics, according to the CDC: Clean using soap and water first, then disinfect with a product from the Environmental Protection Agency’s approved list, and wear gloves while doing so.
From clothes and bedding, to food, phones, and surfaces, let’s take a look back over the last year, and see what we’ve learned to clean, and clean better.
How to clean surfaces
The CDC says that the coronavirus can live on surfaces from a few hours to a few days. And, while transmission across surfaces is unlikely, it’s still wise to clean your home’s surfaces often and thoroughly—after all, SARS-CoV-2 isn’t the only germ out there waiting to climb onto you.
How to clean clothes
To get rid of coronavirus germs, it’s simply necessary to launder clothing according to manufacturer’s instructions, says the CDC, but also recommends using the warmest water setting that you can, while not ruining your clothes in the process.
What’s more, it’s OK to wash your face masks and clothes with your partner’s even if he’s sick and you’re not. Just wash fabric items that may be contaminated immediately, instead of letting them sit around until laundry day.
How to clean produce, food, and groceries
According to the CDC, “There is currently no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food.”
With this said, you can certainly pick up other bacterial foodborne illnesses, like Salmonella and Listeria, so why take a chance by eating unwashed, uncooked fruits and vegetables?
Rinsing, rubbing, and/or scrubbing produce with plain running water before you cut or peel the items is sufficient to keep you healthy. Never, ever, use bleach, dishwashing detergent, or commercial cleaning products to wash items you plan to eat. This is a good way to make yourself quite sick.
Likewise, both the CDC and the FDA agree that there is little to no risk of transmitting the coronavirus via food packaging, i.e. you can keep indulging in boxes of Annie’s shells and white cheddar and not worry about getting sick from whoever stocked the shelves at your local grocery store.
The only real food-related transmission risk is if you’ve got someone who’s sick in your home. In this case, says the CDC, wear gloves and use hot, soapy water or a dishwasher to clean any dishes or utensils used by that person. Better yet, use disposable ones.
How to clean your phone
Cell phones are notoriously filthy, but it’s hard to know how to clean them. Reviewed’s senior scientist Julia MacDougall recommends cleaning your phone at least once a week with a solution that is two parts 70% isopropyl alcohol and one part distilled water.
You can also use a UV phone sanitizer like the popular PhoneSoap, which killed most of the bacteria on her phone when she tested it in our lab. However, there’s just not enough data out yet to show whether UV light can effectively inactivate the coronavirus.
How to clean a laptop
Like your phone, your laptop has sensitive parts you need to take care with when cleaning. In other words, don’t clean it with bleach, ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, or Windex. And don’t try to heat it up in the oven.
Instead, cover it with a silicone keyboard protector that makes it easier to wipe it down, or use a Clorox or Lysol wipe, or 70% isopropyl alcohol with caution.
How to disinfect your car
If you’re out in the world with the coronavirus—or, possibly transporting a patient to a doctor’s appointment or hospital—you’re bringing the virus into your car. Which means you need to clean your car.
The CDC has a whole page of advice for cleaning your car. Keep your windows and doors open to fully vent the car and also protect yourself from chemical fumes from the disinfectants you are using. Wash all high-touch non-porous surfaces, like seatbelt buckles and grab handles, with soap and water first, and then use an antimicrobial disinfectant or diluted household bleach solutions like Clorox Clean-up Disinfectant Cleaner with Bleach.
How to keep the air cleaner
There are many reasons to use an air purifier to clean the air in your home, and up until recently the main one has been allergies. But with the advent of the coronavirus this past year, more and more people looked to air purifiers to keep them safe and healthy.
At this point in time, it requires extensive research to prove that an air purifier can cleanse the air of SARS-CoV-2, and we’re just not there yet. Instead, according to the CDC, the most effective way to use an air purifier to combat the coronavirus is in conjunction with other methods, like social distancing and mask wearing.
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