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How to thoroughly clean and disinfect your home

As we aim to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus both in Texas and across the country, we must each remain committed to safe behavioral practices in our everyday lives.

This includes regular and thorough cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched objects and surfaces. Coronaviruses on surfaces and objects naturally die within hours to days, though studies reveal that COVID-19 can linger on some surfaces for up to seven days. While warmer temperatures and exposure to sunlight may reduce the time the virus survives on surfaces and objects, summertime does not seem to be slowing the spread of the virus.

Routine cleaning and disinfecting — yes, these are two distinctly separate steps — are important ways you can reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19 for you and your family. When it comes to cleaning and disinfecting your home, here’s your step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Determine your high-touch surfaces.

Take note of surfaces frequently touched by multiple people, such as:

  • Door handles
  • Desks 
  • Keyboards and computer mice
  • Phones
  • Light switches
  • Tables
  • Countertops
  • Toilets
  • Faucets and sinks
  • Remote controls

Step 2: Clean.

Cleaning and disinfecting are both critical steps. Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt and impurities from surfaces. Although cleaning does not kill germs, normal routine cleaning with soap and water will decrease how much of the virus is on surfaces and objects. Cleaning is a necessary step before you disinfect dirty surfaces. 

Related: How to care for someone in your household with COVID-19

Step 3: Disinfect.

Disinfection using EPA-approved disinfectants against COVID-19 can also help to reduce the risk. Disinfection refers to using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. Killing germs on a surface after cleaning can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

When cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in your home, keep these recommendations in mind to make sure you’re doing so safely and effectively:

  • Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, and discard the gloves after each cleaning. Additional personal protective equipment (PPE) may be needed based on the setting and product.
  • Wash your hands immediately after gloves are removed.
  • For disinfection, stick to common EPA-registered household disinfectants. Use this list of products EPA-approved for use against the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • For your safety, follow all manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products. Be sure to use and store disinfectants in a manner according to the label. 
  • For more cleaning and disinfection how-to tips, follow the CDC’s recommendations.

Step 4: Repeat!

These high-touch surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected at least daily. More frequent cleaning and disinfection may be needed based on your family’s level of use.

In addition to regular cleaning and disinfecting, remember to follow all the recommended safety precautions to protect yourself and stop the spread in your community. These safe behavioral practices include:

  • Practicing social distancing (staying 6 feet away from others when you must go into a shared space)
  • Wearing face covering at work or when in contact with others outside of the house
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Staying home when sick
  • Following proper prevention hygiene, such as washing your hands frequently and using alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available

To find more COVID-19 safety resources, visit BSWHealth.com. Be sure to follow along with the CDC for the most current updates and recommendations.

About the author

Rachel Watson, MPH, CIC, LSSGB
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Rachel Watson is the system manager of infection prevention and control for Baylor Scott & White Health.

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How to thoroughly clean and disinfect your home