Keeping your home virus-free

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, and the quarantine continues, everyone is focused on keeping their homes safe from the virus. We’re disinfecting. We’re sanitizing. But aren’t these the same thing?


Sanitizing vs Disinfecting

The quick answer to this question is – kind of.


According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) sanitizing is disinfecting to a lesser degree, lowering the number of germs on a surface to a safe level. Disinfecting refers to destroying nearly 100 percent of germs or bacteria.


“Soap and water remove 97 percent of germs, sanitizing removes 99.9 percent of germs, while disinfection kills more than 99.999 percent of germs,” said Madeleine Park, manager with MaidPro in Fort Wayne.


To effectively fight infection, best practice indicates cleaning vigorously to remove dirt, followed by thoroughly disinfecting the area.


“Wash surfaces with soap and water to prevent dirt and oil from protecting germs,” said Park. “The soak the surface with a disinfectant for 10 minutes before wiping down.”


Commonly-touched surfaces that need cleaned and disinfected include door handles (doors of the home, as well as handles on refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher, etc.), light switches, remote controls/gaming controllers, and sink faucets and bathrooms. Countertops, tables and desks should be cleaning/disinfecting targets as well. Be sure to check product labels and use the cleaner most appropriate for the surface.


DIY Options

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), coronavirus is among the easiest to kill because it has a coating that allows it to merge with other cells and infect them. If that protective coating can be disturbed, the virus can’t attach and infect other cells. Because the cleaning recommendations involve using common household products and a large number of people are taking these precautionary measures, shortages in stores are likely to be an issue. In that case, there are ways to make your own cleaning products at home.


  • Diluted bleach: Mix 1/3 cup of bleach in one gallon of water, or 4 teaspoons bleach in one quart of water. When properly diluted, unexpired household bleach is effective against coronavirus. Use in a well-ventilated area, and only on surfaces that will not be damaged by bleach.
  • Alcohol: Create a sanitizing spray by combining 1 1/4 cups water, 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1/4 cup alcohol in a glass spray bottle. Add essential oil for a more pleasant fragrance.
  • Hydrogen peroxide: The CDC says household hydrogen peroxide (3% concentration) can kill rhinovirus that causes the common cold within 6-8 minutes of contact. Coronavirus is easier to destroy than rhinovirus, so peroxide may provide another way to combat infection.


Park recommends using color-coded rags to prevent cross-contamination between rooms, as well as additional precautionary measures to avoid spreading germs throughout your home.


“Wear gloves and change them frequently,” she said. “Wash rags and clothing immediately after cleaning to prevent lingering germs on floors, clothing or hampers.”


Practicing safe and thorough cleaning procedures inside the home and remaining vigilant about limiting outside exposure are important for keeping our homes virus-free.


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