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March 13, 2020
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Viruses can live on objects and surfaces from a few hours to a few days. Good hand hygiene is key and the most important habit to avoid illness, including coronavirus (COVID-19), but it’s also helpful to disinfect household surfaces and other commonly touched objects.
Juan Dumois, M.D., a pediatric infectious diseases physician at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital shares some best practices for sanitizing your home.
Cleaning is when an object that has dirt, grime or goop is washed or wiped off. This is an important step in successful sanitizing, which is treating a surface with a chemical intent to kill most germs (viruses and bacteria).
The concern is when a family member gets sick and could potentially infect items around the house, like light switches, door knobs, faucets and countertops. It depends on where the objects are located and who is touching them.
If the objects are in your home and nobody is sick, just clean as you normally do because the only organisms on them are your normal bacteria, which are harmless.
Otherwise, disinfect the object after the sick person has touched them.
Most household cleansers will kill viruses. Buy what you can afford and what is most convenient, whether it’s a disinfectant, alcohol, bleach or chlorine – it doesn’t matter.
If you’re able to get a hold of bleach, you can make your own diluted bleach cleaner; 1 part bleach and 10 parts water. This is bleach and may discolor some surfaces.
The longer the product sits on the surface or object, the better sanitation it will provide. It advisable to rinse hands after cleaning to remove the detergents that might be irritating/drying to skin as developing dermatitis is much more common after repeated exposure to chemicals.
Also be aware of using a product that could damage what you’re cleaning. For example, cell phone manufacturers have sanitizing recommendations.
If you do proper hand hygiene, it doesn’t matter whether a surface is contaminated.
Continue teaching and monitoring good handwashing among all members of your family, especially before they eat, drink or touch their faces.
Have hand sanitizer readily available at all times, and do not forget to use it frequently and correctly. Soap and water should be used for 20 seconds and 15 seconds for hand sanitizer.