Regular cleaning is an important part of keeping your home healthy.
This includes preventing and mitigating bacteria, viruses, and other pests like moths, silverfish, and bedbugs that can do harm if left unchecked.
And regular cleaning is even more crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic. SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can live on some surfaces in your home for days.
Luckily, it’s easy to get rid of the virus material from these surfaces with some basic disinfectants and cleaning procedures.
Read on to learn about some common trouble spots around the house and solutions for keeping your living spaces safe and healthy.
How to clean a kitchen
Everyone gravitates to the kitchen.
Part restaurant, part entertainment center, and part family room, it’s ground zero for the most troublesome spots in the home. Practically every surface is a magnet for bacteria, viruses, germs, insects, and other pests.
Your kitchen can also be one of the most likely places you can transfer a virus, like SARS-CoV-2, into your household. A 2020 study found that this coronavirus can live for hours or days on many common kitchen surfaces:
copper: 8 hours
cardboard: 24 hours
stainless steel: 48 hours
plastic: 3 days
Here are some general tips for disinfecting your kitchen surfaces to prevent COVID-19:
Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before you touch anything, especially if you’ve been outside or at work.
Sanitize your hands with a 60 percent (or higher) alcohol sanitizer if soap and water aren’t immediately available.
Regularly wipe down all kitchen surfaces, including counters, tabletops, and any other surface you frequently touch, like stove or microwave buttons. Use an EPA-approved disinfectant if available.
Wash all dishes and silverware before and after you use them.
Sponges and dish towels
A sponge can carry mold and thousands of germs and foodborne pathogens if it’s not cleaned or stored properly.
Things you can do to kill germs on a sponge include:
placing the sponge in the dishwasher with a high temperature and the drying cycle on
wetting it and putting it in the microwave for 1–2 minutes
squeezing it out well after every use and keeping it in a place that allows it to air dry
Cloth dish towels can also harbor unhealthy microorganisms, even if they’re only used for drying clean dishes. Wash them often with your machine temperature dial set to hot.
Never cut fruits or vegetables on the same cutting board you use to slice raw meat. Clean it with hot water and soap first.
Keeping veggies and raw meat separated will avoid cross-contamination and the possible spread of salmonella, E. coli, and other harmful bacteria.
It’s a good idea to have two cutting boards: one for raw meat and one for fruits, vegetables, and everything else.
Keep all surfaces cleaned and sanitized after you cook.
This extra step will help eliminate food bacteria such as Campylobacter, a common cause of diarrhea. This will also discourage insects from feasting on the leftovers left on the counter.
Household pests like cockroaches can carry a number of pathogens and can also trigger asthma and allergies in some people.
You can sanitize your countertops with bleach after wiping them down with soap and water. One teaspoon of chlorine bleach per quart of water will do the trick. This extra step will help kill any lingering pathogens.
Using bleach with chlorine will also help remove any virus material related to COVID-19. Ammonia will also work. Just don’t use bleach and ammonia together, as they can combine to produce harmful chemicals.
Keep a lid on possible insect infestations by washing dishes and utensils immediately after eating, storing food in tightly sealed containers, and keeping trash in a container with a lid on it.