It’s true. You’re trapped. In the house, the apartment, the condo, and all other manners of dwelling during the time of COVID. And while you’re responsible, you know, limiting your contact, practicing social distancing– it’s also more important than ever to remember that keeping your living spaces clean goes a long way to keeping you and your family healthy!
While those grocery runs and take-out pickups are essential, they can bring unwanted microbial guests into your home.
While COVID-19 is believed to be spread mainly by inhaling droplets released when an infected person coughs or sneezes, these droplets can also land on surfaces. This means that even though you’ve worn a mask and maybe even gloves while on your essential errands– you’ve touched surfaces– and the next thing you know, the virus has gotten a free ride to wherever and whatever you touch next– including surfaces in your home.
“…SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, microbes are also released in aerosols from sneezing and coughing or from mucous secretions. Whether we are careful or not, we are constantly picking up microorganisms from the external environment.”
– University of Las Vegas Microbiologist, Brian Hedlund
We’ve assembled some microbiology inspired tips on adjusting your house cleaning routine to keep your home free from nasty, invisible invaders…
- Pay special attention to cleaning high-touch surfaces.
What’s a high-touch surface? Think tables and counters, doorknobs and handles, phones, remotes, keyboards, steering wheels, and light switches.
- Use soap and get some social distance sun.
Soap dissolves the lipid membranes that surround coronaviruses. This is important because the lipid membrane is susceptible to soap, and the RNA genome is vulnerable to UV light. In general, these are very sensitive microorganisms that don’t survive a long time without a host.
- Since you’re staying at home more, clean more!
If you’re home alone or with a limited number of people, then the risks are obviously reduced. However, SARS-CoV-2 infections are often asymptomatic and/or have long incubation periods, and this virus is very infectious. So, extra caution is warranted even in ideal situations. Be sure to clean surfaces and wash your hands regularly, even if you’re just hanging around the house!
- Handle deliveries with care.
While this may not be a significant route of infection, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to treat packages with some caution, because outside packaging could undoubtedly have come into contact with microorganisms. When possible, open packages on the porch and discard packaging in outdoor garbage bins then wash your hands. If it needs to be brought inside, wash your hands after opening a package and treat the packaging itself with care by wiping it down and the surfaces it comes in contact with. Since SARS-CoV-2 doesn’t survive very long away from a host, the internal contents are probably generally safe, but again hand washing is always a good idea.
- Clean up after your guests.
Usually, when guests leave, we clean up after them by putting away food, sweeping, you know– the normal stuff. These days, if you’ve had a social distancing visit from family or friends, you’ll need to clean after they leave as if they have invaded your space with microorganisms! Sanitize all surfaces they may have touched and immediately wash dishes they’ve used with hot water and soap. And do try to limit the number of people you invite into your space; after all, the less contact you have with others, the lower your chances of infection!
We’re all in this together, so let’s all work together to terminate this virus by listening to the experts and adjusting our behaviors to flatten the curve! Check out our resource page about how you can move around safely and more tips and info on how to execute everyday tasks while navigating our new normal.