Wash Your Hands!
Pop Quiz: What is the first thing you should do before preparing or eating food, after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose, using the restroom, touching your face, touching an animal, or returning from outside your home? Wash your hands! The CDC says to use soap and water for at least 20 seconds (the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice), scrubbing between your fingers and under your nails. You can also use alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60%), but nothing beats the bubbles. Don’t forget to use lotion afterward so your skin won’t become dry and cracked.
Disinfect, Don't Just Clean
Even if your home looks tidy, there may be hidden dangers that can affect your health. During this time, it is important to sanitize commonly used surfaces to reduce the likelihood of getting sick. Before you begin, check the label on your cleaning products to make sure they will eliminate viruses, fungi, and bacteria. An inexpensive option is three teaspoons of bleach mixed with a gallon of water (which needs to air dry for at least three to five minutes). The EPA’s website provides more information, including recommended brands, how long a product needs to remain on an object, and whether or not a product can be diluted.
Sanitize Your Living Areas
Setting aside time to disinfect the different areas of your home will help keep you safe and give you better peace of mind. Start by wiping down light fixtures, doorknobs, appliances, cell phones (with an alcohol-based product), keys, and other items your family regularly comes in contact with. You may already clean kitchen countertops and food preparation areas, but don’t forget your fridge and cabinet handles, faucet, and sink. In the living room and bedrooms, be sure to sanitize your television remotes and game controllers as well as mattresses, sofas, and pillows (with a product that won’t harm fabric). While the bathroom goes without saying, it may be time to deep clean any soap scum or other residue that may be hiding in hard-to-reach areas.
Keep Your Children Safe
While children and babies are seemingly not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 as severely as adults, it is vital to take special considerations to keep them healthy. Disinfect cribs, changing tables, and toys (including laundering cloth playthings) regularly. Be extra careful when preparing bottles, using hot water to mix formula (cooling it in the fridge) and sterilizing containers after every use. For older kids, this is a great time to reinforce good habits like washing their hands frequently, not touching their faces or putting their fingers in their mouths, and coughing and sneezing into their elbows.
Sanitize Things Coming Into Your Home
Now that your home is disinfected, it is important to not introduce viruses and germs from the outside world into your living spaces. Don’t just dig into your food after taking a trip to the grocery store. When bringing in your bags, designate a “dirty” station and a “sanitized” station to put items after cleaning. First, wash your hands! Then, wipe down any cardboard or plastic with a cleaning cloth and approved product. Remove packaged and sealed items, like a cereal bag, directly placing them in the sanitized zone and throwing away the box. Clean fruits and vegetables under warm water with a brush. Finally, throw away any plastic bags, disinfect the dirty station, and wash your hands again! Follow similar steps when bringing home takeout containers, dropping food onto a clean plate, microwaving it for a minute or so, and throwing anything unnecessary away.
The best way to enjoy a clean home is to spend time with your friends and family, even if they are not all under one roof. Thanks to modern technology, we are able to easily connect with people from across the country and world. This week, plan a virtual dinner, happy hour, or game night with the people you love. Some of the best online board games are free to play, including Codenames, Scattergories, and Colonist (a version of Settlers of Catan). You can also go old-school and surprise someone with a handwritten note or card in the mail (be sure to add a P.S., asking if they’ve been washing their hands).
During this challenging time, we can keep ourselves safe by following the CDC’s recommendations and a few common-sense tips. When things simmer down, we’ll all have better habits, helping us live healthier, be happier, and have much cleaner hands.