How to disinfect every high-touch surface where Coronavirus could be living

The extremely fast spread of the novel Coronavirus has everyone thinking about germs much more than usual. With spring starting on March 19, and the fact that you are most likely stuck in your home, this is the perfect time to clean your house.

The Coronavirus spreads from person-to-person via respiratory droplets that are emitted when coughing or sneezing. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “transmission of novel coronavirus to persons from surfaces contaminated with the virus has not been documented.”

That being said, the CDC reports that the Coronavirus can remain on surfaces made from a variety of materials for hours to days, depending on the surface.

“Cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in households and community settings,” the CDC reports.

Let’s start with the basics, and then get into every high-touch surface you need disinfect in order to keep Coronavirus germs at bay.

What is the difference between cleaning and disinfecting?

While many use the terms “cleaning” and”disinfecting” interchangeably, there are actually differences between the two, according to the CDC.

  • 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.

What are high-touch surfaces?

High-touch surfaces are those that you touch frequently throughout the day. Here are some examples:

  • Tables
  • Doorknobs (both sides of door and locks as well)
  • Light switches
  • Handles
  • Desks
  • Toilets (especially flushers)
  • Faucets
  • Sinks
  • Countertops
  • Cell phone and house phone
  • Laptop and computer mouse/keyboard
  • Remote controls (television, garage, etc.)
  • Car (radio dials, doorknobs, steering wheel, mirrors, gearshift, etc.)
  • Toiletries (toothbrush, bottles, makeup brushes, etc.)

How long can Coronavirus live on these high-touch surfaces?

Here is how long the novel Coronavirus can live on various different surfaces in your home:

  • Plastered wall: 36 hours
  • Formica (the laminate material on countertops): 36 hours
  • Plastic: 72 hours
  • Stainless steel: 72 hours
  • Glass: 96 hours

This means that the virus can live on your kitchen surfaces for three days, your countertops for over a day, and your cell phone for up to four days.

How to clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces

Cleaning of high-touch surfaces can be done with household cleaners and EPA-registered disinfectants that are appropriate for each surface. You should first clean a surface with soap and then use disinfecting products after that for the best chance of removing all germs.  If you don’t have any EPA-registered disinfectant available, you can use diluted household bleach solutions or alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol.

The CDC recommends following instructions for wearing wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during the use of each product.

Special instructions for cleaning and disinfecting in a household with a suspected or confirmed patient of the novel Coronavirus

While cleaning in a household as a preventative measure is recommended, cleaning in a household with a confirmed or suspected case of the novel Coronavirus is absolutely necessary.

If possible, the ill person should have their own dedicated bathroom and bedroom, and actually, cleaning should be limited to an as-needed basis, in order to limit unnecessary contact with the ill person.

Tips for cleaning and disinfecting: 

  • Wear disposable gloves and throw them out immediately after you are finished cleaning the infected person’s area.
  • If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
  • When handling laundry from an infected person, wear gloves and dispose of them immediately after touching the dirty laundry. Do not shake the dirty laundry for any reason. Make sure to clean and disinfect close hampers.