Many surfaces inside your home are frequently touched by household members throughout the day. These are called ‘High Touch Surfaces.” You can limit the transmission of dirt, bacteria, and viruses by following a daily routine. COVID-19, which is caused by a virus, requires cleaning and disinfecting practices to make your home a healthier place. High touch surfaces in your home can vary depending on the items in your home and the daily routines of household members. Download the fact sheet.
Recommended Cleaning Agents to Kill Coronavirus in your Home
Your kitchen cabinet may be stocked with adequate cleaning supplies to kill Coronaviruses, but you need to be careful as not all chemicals will work.
Each disinfecting chemical product has its own specific instructions. An important rule is that you should not immediately wipe a cleaning solution off as soon as you have sprayed it on a surface. It needs to sit for a specified period of time to kill viruses first. You do not need to spend a lot of money on supplies – you can buy bleach and make a simple bleach solution at home.
GENERAL DISINFECTING GUIDELINES
- It is important to use detergent or soap and water on unclean surfaces before you disinfect them. There is a difference between cleaning and disinfecting. Disinfecting is what kills the viruses.
- The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that you do daily disinfecting for frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs, light switches, keyboards, phones, toilets, sinks etc. Coronavirus can last up to 16 hours on surfaces so daily disinfecting is important
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a list of household disinfectants that should be effective against Coronaviruses. A full list is at epa.gov.
- These products will be labeled that they kill bacteria and viruses (for example Lysol and Clorox products).
- The ONLY household product capable of killing Coronavirus is a diluted household bleach solution.
- Check to be sure the Bleach is not past its expiration date.
- NEVER mix bleach with ammonia or any other household cleaner. This can release dangerous fumes.
- To prepare a bleach solution: Add 4 teaspoons Bleach per Quart of water. Let the solution sit on surfaces at least 1 minute and then give the surface a wipe. Use the solution within 24 hours (after that it loses its disinfecting effectiveness).
- If you have Asthma or other breathing problems- be careful not breathing in this solution as it can give off fumes.
- Alcohol in any form, including rubbing alcohol, can be used to kill Coronavirus. You should dilute alcohol with water, but you need to keep an alcohol concentration of around 70% alcohol to kill coronavirus. 100 % alcohol is actually less effective and it dries off from surfaces too fast.
- Hard liquor, like Vodka is NOT effective. Vodka is 80 proof which means it is only 40% alcohol, that is not high enough to effectively kill Coronaviruses
- Hand sanitizers (check the label) should have an alcohol concentration of at least 60% alcohol to kill Coronaviruses. Not all hand sanitizers will kill viruses.
NATURAL HOUSEHOLD CHEMICALS
- Vinegar (any kind), Baking Soda, Tea Tree Oil or any other Oils are NOT effective in killing Coronaviruses. Do NOT use these to disinfect your home
These tips can help you clean and disinfect your home to protect yourself and your loved ones. Paying attention to those products that are effective in killing Coronaviruses will protect your home. Cleaning and disinfecting every day on surfaces at home will kill these viruses.
Article by Sharon Gray
Updated May 1, 2020
Stay Healthy and Safe in Your Home Using CDC Guidelines
We are all doing our best to stay safe and healthy during COVID-19. We recommend using these guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help keep you, your family, and home healthy and safe.
Know the difference between cleaning and disinfecting!
“Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. Cleaning does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
Disinfecting refers to using chemicals 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.”
View the complete CDC article.
It’s important to read labels!
“Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.”
Note from Healthy Homes Partnership: People and household members with asthma may react to strong fragrances in cleaning products. Use caution and consult your health care provider if you have concerns.
Read the full CDC article.
CDC Cleaning and Disinfecting Tip: Surfaces
“Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. Gloves should be discarded after each cleaning.
-If reusable gloves are used, those gloves should be dedicated for cleaning and disinfection of surfaces for COVID-19 and should not be used for other purposes.
-If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.”
Read the complete article.
Wondering what disinfectant to use?
“For disinfection, diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.
-Diluted household bleach solutions can be used if appropriate for the surface.
-Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation.
-Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date.
-Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.
-Wear gloves and goggles when using cleaning and disinfectants.
Always label any solution in a childproof container. Store in a locked cabinet where it cannot be accessed by children.”
Read the full article.
“Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.”
Check out the CDC’s dilution recipe below:
Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:
5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water or
4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
Always label any solution in a childproof container. Store in a locked cabinet where it cannot be accessed by children.
Find the complete CDC article.
CDC Cleaning and Disinfecting Tip: Laundry
“Wear disposable gloves when handling dirty laundry from an ill person and then discard after each use.”
-If possible, do not shake dirty laundry. This will minimize the possibility of dispersing virus through the air.
-Clean and disinfect clothes hampers according to guidance above for surfaces.
-If possible, consider placing a bag liner that is either disposable (can be thrown away) or can be laundered.
Find the complete article from CDC.
A healthy home supports the health and safety of the people who live there. UConn Extension has an educational series of workshops and information on how to make your home a healthy place to be. Your health is impacted by the health of your home. Learn about indoor air quality, asthma and allergies, lead poisoning prevention, carbon monoxide, residential drinking water, mold and moisture, household products, safe and green cleaning, pest control and home safety. For more information visit us at https://healthyhomes.uconn.edu/.
Content curated by Sara Tomis and Mary Ellen Welch
Infection Prevention Action Steps
Our UConn 4-H team developed the following fact sheet for 4-H youth during public health emergencies. The action steps can be used by any family, group, or organization.
During any public health emergency, it is important that we all take a little extra time to increase sanitary practices at 4–H gatherings. Not only will this help pre- vent the spread of illness but is a wonderful opportunity to educate youth and adults about proper healthy hygiene and social responsibility for ourselves and the community around us. Our goal is to provide resources to assist you in reducing the risk of inadvertently spreading disease at your 4–H meetings and events.
National Hand Washing Week
As part of Marc Cournoyer’s involvement with the Healthy Homes Partnership, he created a poster contest to recognize national hand washing awareness week which runs from Dec. 2-8. Some of the kids from the Windham Heights 4-H club created posters to educate the public on the importance of hand washing. Marc is a UConn Extension 4-H educator.
A Healthy Home is in Good Repair
Our Healthy Homes program offers the following tips on keeping your home in good repair. You can download the document or print it for easy reference.
A Healthy Home is Well Ventilated
Our Healthy Homes program offers the following tips on keeping your home well ventilated. You can download the document or print it for easy reference.
A Healthy Home is Safe
Our Healthy Homes program offers the following tips on keeping your home safe. You can download the document or print it for easy reference.
A Healthy Home is Free of Pests
Our Healthy Homes program offers the following tips on keeping your home free of pests. You can download the document or print it for easy reference.
A Healthy Home is Dry
Our Healthy Homes program offers the following tips on keeping your home dry. You can download the document or print it for easy reference.