A Primer on Properly Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Home

1. Clean

Use protective gloves (such as reusable rubber dishwashing gloves or disposable single-use latex gloves [single-use gloves are recommended by CDC if there is a COVID-19 infected person in the home]) and old clothing (aprons, worn-out button- down shirts, mate-less socks to cover your shoes) while cleaning and disinfecting your home. Prepare cleaning solution by mixing soap, detergent, or disinfectant with warm water in a large bucket or bowl. Always follow the instructions on the cleaning product labels.1 Clean off any visible dirt, food, or debris with the soapy water and a clean towel. Let the surfaces air-dry.1-4

2. Disinfect

Nonporous (“hard”) surfaces may include (windows, doors, cabinets), plastics (vinyl flooring, laminate countertops, toilet seats), metals (appliance surfaces, sinks), porcelain and enamel (tubs, sinks), marble (counters, floors), and varnished wood (though varnishes can vary in quality and should be tested first). Disinfect surfaces with a bleach solution, which can be prepared using five tablespoons bleach (at least 1000ppm sodium hypochlorite) per gallon of water, or four teaspoons bleach per quart of water. Store-bought bleach can be used as long as it’s not expired. Prior to use, open windows or doors to ensure the space is well-ventilated. United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)- approved disinfectant sprays or homemade sprays can also be used on nonporous surfaces as an alternative to bleach. To make your own disinfectant spray, mix 1/3 cup cold, sterile water (sterile distilled or boiled) with 3/4 cup of ethyl (at least 60%) or isopropyl (at least 70%) alcohol in a bowl and then pour into a spray bottle.1-4 Leave the bleach or alcohol solution on the surface for at least one minute before wiping off.4

Electronics such as phones, laptops, tablets, desktop computers and keyboards, and gaming and TV controllers should be disinfected after each use with wipes or sprays that contain at least 70% of alcohol unless otherwise instructed by their manufacturers.1-4

Porous (“soft”) surfaces, such as carpet, drapes, curtains, and rugs, should be cleaned the using soap
and water or with soaps/detergents appropriate for
use on these surfaces. Launder these items (if possible) according to manufacturer instructions, using the warmest appropriate water setting, and dry completely. You can also disinfect these items with an EPA-registered household disinfectant. The CDC website provides a list of disinfectants approved for use against COVID-19. For bedding and clothing, handle dirty laundry carefully with gloves, if possible. While clothes are being washed and dried, disinfect hampers with 70% alcohol solution sprays or wipes.1-4 Porous surfaces are at an advantage—the lifespan of a

virus is significantly shortened on most porous materials compared to nonporous surfaces. Porous materials tend to “dry out”the glycoproteins membranes on the outside of the virus.6

Common pathogens and their lifespan on surfaces
Staphylococcus aureusNonporous: 4 days to months on commonly touched objects
Porous: (bedding and clothing) 1–90 days8-10
SalmonellaNonporous and porous: up to 4 days10
Escherichia coli O157:H7 (E. Coli)Nonporous: up to 28 days on stainless steel Porous: up to 7 days11
Listeria monocytogenesNonporous and porous: Can survive years on a variety of surfaces; resistant to cold temperatures12
Candida (yeast)Nonporous: 3 to 14 days on stainless steel Porous: 14 days on cotton13
Cladosporium, penicillium, and aspergillus (indoor mold):Nonporous: windows and pipes until spores are removed
Porous: paper, wood, and cardboard products, carpet, fabric, and upholstery until spores are removed14
Influenza (flu) A and B subtypesNonporous: up to 48 hours on commonly touched objects.
Porous: eight to 12 hours.15,16
Rhinovirus (common cold)Nonporous: 24 to 48 hours on most surfaces.17
Norovirus (stomach bug)Nonporous: several days to weeks on most surfaces.18
229E (alpha coronavirus) OC43 (beta coronavirus) NL63 (alpha coronavirus) COVID-19Nonporous: up to 5 days; porous: (paper and cardboard) up to 24 hours
Nonporous: 3 days; porous: (paper and cardboard) up to 24 hours Nonporous: 3 days; porous: (paper and cardboard) up to 24 hours
Nonporous: 2–3 days on plastic and stainless steel; porous: (paper and cardboard) up to 24 hours1


1. County of Los Angeles Public Health. Coronavirus Preventing the spread of respiratory illness in the home. 24 Mar 2020. http://publichealth.lacounty. gov/media/coronavirus/CleaningInfographic.pdf. Accessed 5 Apr 2020.

2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Cleaning and disinfection for households. https://www.cdc. gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cleaning-disinfection. html. Accessed 5 Apr 2020.

3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site. Influenza (Flu). How to clean and disinfect schools to help slow the spread of flu. flu/school/cleaning.htm. Accessed 5 Apr 2020.

4. Charles River Laboratories Inc. Resources. Microbial hotspots and diversity on common household surfaces. 2016. files/resources/MicrobialHotspotsandDiversityonCommonHouseholdSurfac- es.pdf. Accessed 5 Apr 2020.

5. The American Chemical Society site. Reactions: this is chemistry. Can soap really kill the coronavirus? Video. 19 Mar 2020. content/acs/en/pressroom/reactions/videos/2020/can-soap-really-kill-the- coronavirus.html. Accessed 5 Apr 2020.

6. Plemper RK. Cell entry of enveloped viruses. Curr Opin Virol. 2011;1(2):92–100.

7. Consumer Reports Site. How often to wash your sheets, towels, and clothes. 09 Sept 2014. often-to-wash-your-sheets-towels-and-clothes/index.htm.
Accessed 5 Apr 2020.

8. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA). Cleaning and Disinfection. Updated 27 Feb 2019. Accessed 5 Apr 2020.

9. Neely AN, Maley MP. Survival of Enterococci and Staphylococci on hospital fabrics and plastic. J Clin Microbiol. 2000;38(2):724–726.

10. KusumaningrumHD,RiboldiG,HazelegerWC,andBeumerRR.Survivalof foodborne pathogens on stainless steel surfaces and cross-contamination to foods. Int J Food Microbiol. 2003;85(3):227–36.

11. Wilks SA, Michels H, and Keevil CW. The survival of Escherichia coli O157 on a range of metal surfaces. Int J Food Microbiol. 2005;105(3):445–54.

12. WilksSA,MichelsHT,KeevilCW.SurvivalofListeriamonocytogeneson metal surfaces: implications for cross-contamination. Int J Food Microbiol. 2006;111(2):93–8.

13. AquantitativestudyofthesurvivaloftwospeciesofCandidaonporous and non-porous environmental surfaces and hands. J Appl Microbiol. 2002;(32):32

14. CentersforDiseaseControlandPreventionsite.Mold.Basicfactsaboutmold and dampness. Updated 16 Dec 2019. htm. Accessed 5 Apr 2020.

15. BeanB,MooreBM,SternerB,etal.SurvivalofInfluenzaviruseson environmental surfaces. J Infectious Disease. 1982;(146):47–51,

16. GreatorexJS,DigardP,CurranMD,etal.SurvivalofInfluenzaA(H1N1)on

Tips on Disinfecting your Groceries

1. Touching shopping carts and baskets pose the greatest risk for contracting viruses at the grocery store. Disinfect basket and cart handles with provided wipes before use, and consider wearing disposable gloves while you shop. Toss them in the garbage can when you leave the store, and then clean your hands with disinfectant gel or wipes before and after you put your groceries in the car.

2. Close contract with other shoppers and clerks who might be sick can also put one at risk for viral infection. Maintain recommended social distancing, when possible, and be respectful of other people’s space.

3. When checking out, opt to pay with a card and offer to bag your own groceries.
4, It remains unclear whether viruses like COVID-19 can be transmitted through food; however, a shopper might have coughed or sneezed on

produce or packages that you’ve purchased, so always wash your hands before and after you handle your groceries.

  • Once home, wash fresh produce with a bit of soap and warm water for 20 seconds, similar to washing your hands, before putting away or consuming. Fruit rinses and vinegar will not kill viruses as effectively. For extra security, scrub and/or peel the skin of produce before consuming or cooking.
  • Wash the outside of canned goods with warm, soapy water before putting away. The same goes for food in plastic or glass containers. For nonperishables in cardboard or paper packaging or that otherwise aren’t suited for washing in warm soapy water, find an “out-of-the-way” place to store them for three days. Consider storing all items that do not need to be immediately frozen or refrigerated in an“out-of-the-way”place for three days.
  • Don’t forget to wash your hands once everything is where it needs to be, and always wash your hands before and after handling packaged foods and fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats. Follow the same protocol for delivered groceries.

SOURCE: Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Medicine site. Food safety, nutrition, and wellness during COVID-19. 1 Apr
2020 19/?utm_campaign=General&utm_content=1585152968&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&fbclid=IwAR1P_ VZxWAqRmNuyhud-QfV9MN1zuxn41FETdIAue1unemfSOTSzWMPPpQg.Accessed20Apr2020. NHR

What’s the difference between cleaning and disinfecting? Here’s what the CDC says:

Cleaning removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects. Cleaning works by using soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.

Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects. Disinfecting works by using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces or objects. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

SOURCE: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site. How to clean and disinfect schools to help slow the spread of flu. 31 Jul 2018. Accessed 6 May 2020.

House Cleaning Schedule1-5,7

your hands, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, using the restroom, handling raw meat or fish, caring for a sick household member, or touching an animal or another person.

• DAILY: Disinfect surfaces and objects in your home that are touched often (e.g., kitchen and bathroom surfaces, toilets, door handles). Wash the dishes. Do laundry. Don’t forget to clean that smartphone!

• EVERY 2 to 3 DAYS: Change
dishtowels. Disinfect kitchen sponges by soaking them in a bleach solution…or better yet, toss them out and replace with new ones.

• EVERY 3 to 4 DAYS: Change bath towels.

• WEEKLY: Thoroughly clean and disinfect your entire house. Mop floors. Vacuum carpets. Clean inside of microwave. Replace razor blades. Don’t forget to wipe down remotes and shower curtain liners and brush/vacuum furniture.

• EVERY OTHER WEEK: Change sheets/bedding (change more often if you have very active sweat glands or if pets sleep in your bed). Remove old/expired food from refrigerator.

• MONTHLY: Replace air filters. Clean the inside of your dishwasher. Vacuum out the lint collector chute in dryer. Remove old/expired food from freezer and pantry.

• EVERY 3 TO 4 MONTHS: Replace shower curtain liners and toothbrushes. Wash pillows and duvets. Sanitize the inside of the washing machine. Clean inside surfaces of the refrigerator. Dust ceiling fan blades and window treatments.

• EVERY 6 MONTHS: Vacuum
mattresses and air duct grates. Clean the inside of the oven. Descale coffee maker. Clean inside of car. Clean deck furniture.

• YEARLY: Steam clean carpets. Wash windows. Clean gutters.

How to Effectively Wash Your Hands

Lather a few pumps of soap with warm water into your hands, rubbing them together and covering them

completely. Make sure to include the backs of your hands, in between fingers, and under the nails while lathering. Scrub all lathered sections for at least 20

seconds (count 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 Mississippi, etc.), then rinse your hands with warm water and pat dry with a

clean towel. Repeat often throughout the day.
SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention site. When and how to wash your hands. https:/ www. Accessed 5 Apr 2020. NHR

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