Lockdown restrictions are being lifted across the US. American citizens are going back to work and life outside the confines of the home is resuming. With the number of COVID-19 related deaths still on the rise, and levels of outdoor interaction increasing, it’s more important than ever to remain vigilant against the coronavirus.
With that in mind, there are a number of things you can do to keep COVID-19 out of your home.
Can COVID-19 Live on Surfaces?
We know that the main way coronavirus is spread is through respiratory transmission. This means that large droplets are expelled from the mouths and noses of infected people, with or without symptoms, when they cough, sneeze, talk, and even breathe. These infectious droplets can then be inhaled by healthy people in close proximity. This is why maintaining a six-foot distance from others remains a requirement in re-opening states.
However, the virus can spread in other ways. The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) emphasizes that while it’s more difficult to catch coronavirus just by touching surfaces, it is possible to contract the virus by touching your nose, eyes, or mouth after touching an infected surface.
Depending on the material, COVID-19 can survive on surfaces from anywhere between a couple of hours to multiple days. While research still has a long way to go, studies have shown that the virus can last on metal and wood for up to five days. Both of these materials are very common in any home.
Frequently washing your hands remains the easiest way to avoid surface transmission, but it’s easy to become less militant about hand-washing in the safety and comfort of your own space. Regularly disinfecting high-touch surfaces will help to keep COVID-19 out of your home.
What are High-touch Surfaces?
- Cabinet handles
- Fridge doors
- Kitchen worktops
- Remote controls
How to Disinfect your Home
A quick and easy way to clean high-touch surfaces is with disinfectant wipes and/or spray. Wiping down frequently-touched surfaces at least once a day will help keep COVID-19 at bay.
When using products to disinfect your home, it’s important to always follow the directions on the label for safe and effective use. Most products require the surface to be pre-washed with soapy water, especially if the surface is visibly dirty.
One of the most important things to consider is the contact time. This is the amount of time that the surface should remain visibly wet. Some products need as long as 20 minutes in order to be fully effective. So, be sure to let the product air dry for as long as possible before wiping it away.
Products for use Against COVID-19
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a list of products that meet its criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The list also includes the contact time for each product.
As this is a new virus, it has not yet been tested to see exactly which disinfectants it is killed by. However, all of the products have demonstrated effectiveness against harder-to-kill viruses or similar strands of human coronavirus.
EPA-approved products include Clorox and Lysol which can be found in both wipe and spray form. The EPA also recommends dilutable Maquar products which can be used to clean hard floors.
Viruses can be found on floors as a result of being carried in on shoes. The CDC recommends mopping floors with 1 cup of bleach mixed with 5 gallons of water. It’s also a good idea to remove shoes after entering the home.
Microban 24 is a new product that is not on the EPA list. However, the company behind the product, Proctor and Gamble, claims that the product is effective against killing the coronavirus. The multipurpose disinfectant is said to keep surfaces in the home protected for 24 hours.
Other Ways to Stay Safe at Home
The more precautions you take outside of your home, the less likely you are to bring COVID-19 inside your home. This includes adhering to the CDC’s social distancing guidelines and mask-wearing recommendation.
Wearing a mask is mandatory in some reopening states. It helps to slow down the rate of transmission by limiting the spread of infectious droplets, therefore protecting others from yourself. This is especially important now we know that the virus can be spread by asymptomatic people. If every US citizen was to make the conscientious decision to wear a mask, community-based transmission would decrease.
In order to keep COVID-19 out of the home, it’s important to take extra care when dealing with a used mask. Always remove it by unhooking at the ear, and refrain from touching the outside of the mask as it may have virus particles on the surface. Regularly machine-wash the mask and always wash your hands after each use.