By now, most of us are accustomed to the standard preventative measures that are required to best avoid the contraction and spread of COVID-19. One of those general measures is disinfecting. There is endless information on disinfecting our hands through washing with soap and water, disinfecting groceries post-shopping, disinfecting packages that are delivered to our homes, and disinfecting common surfaces like countertops and doorknobs. But there are certain areas and items within our homes that many of us forget to sanitize. Below are five places and objects that should be disinfected regularly to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.
I know that many of my friends and family members are vigilant about disinfecting the packages and pieces of mail that come into their homes, and I think that is smart. The CDC says, “It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.” There is still so much we do not know about the virus, and while the risk of contraction via mail may not be extraordinarily high, it is still possible for the virions (viral particles) to be passed in that way. Plus, wiping down the mailbox regularly is one way to look out for our essential mail carriers who continue to go to work for us each day.
A recent study out of China discovered that among health care workers, half had SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, detected on their shoes. While risk is reduced if you or someone in your household are not health care workers, it is still possible for the bottom of your shoes to track the virus into your house – and the doormat may be the first place you deposit traces of the virus. To be safe, you can spray doormats with disinfectant, replace them periodically, and launder them if possible.
Speaking of laundry, it is also possible for you to track the virus into your home via your clothing, so it is wise to disinfect your laundry hamper from time to time. Spreading COVID-19 through clothing is more likely if you or another person in your household work in the health care industry. In general, those of us who are practicing social distancing and staying six feet from others do not maintain a high risk of getting virions trapped on our clothing. But it is still wise to disinfect your hamper as a stranger’s sneeze can transfer the virus to your clothes.
The Coronavirus is spread primarily from person-to-person. According to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), speech droplets from COVID-19-infected asymptomatic individuals are “increasingly considered to be a likely mode of disease transmission.” The virions can be transported from objects to hands, to other objects, so we must continue to disinfect commonly handled items. Many of us are getting accustomed to wiping down our cellphones but fewer people are remembering to disinfect their keyboards and laptops.
5. Pet Areas
The National Sanitation Foundation asserts that pet dishes were the fourth germiest area in homes that were analyzed. We can take our shoes off before walking through our homes (a step I always recommend), wash our hands upon entry, and disinfect our mail. But if our furry friends are tracking the virus around our homes, those steps may not be enough. Pet dishes and surrounding areas should be washed daily, either in a sanitizing dishwasher or hand scrubbed thoroughly with soap and water, then rinsed.
To disinfect areas and items, use EPA-registered disinfectants that have been approved for use against SARS-CoV-2 such as isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol, ethanol, and hydrogen peroxide. Keep in mind that these disinfectants are not approved for humans or animals and the best way to disinfect your hands is by washing them thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Be sure to avoid mixing chemical products as you disinfect your home as that can have detrimental effects and store them away from children and pets.