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How to Disinfect the Most-Touched Areas of Your Home

It's not the same thing as cleaning. 


If you know you need to step up your home cleaning game during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, but aren’t sure where to start, Becky Rapinchuk, owner of the Clean Mama blog and product line has some advice for you.

“Take shoes off at the door and wash hands immediately upon entering the home, after shoes are off,” she says. “Wipe surfaces like kitchen counters and bathrooms daily and disinfect most-touched surfaces like door knobs, handles, remotes, and phones with rubbing alcohol or a disinfecting wipe daily.”

The Difference Between Cleaning and Disinfecting

Jennie Varney, brand manager for Molly Maid, says using soap or detergent and water to remove dirt and impurities from surfaces or objects doesn’t kill germs. It does lower their numbers and the risk of spreading infection, but to actually kill germs on surfaces or objects you need to disinfect with chemicals after cleaning. The CDC has echoed this sentiment.

How To Effectively Disinfect

Rapinchuk uses rubbing alcohol and a disinfecting wipe to disinfect most-used areas of the home, while Varney relies on EPA-approved “products that claim to kill 99.9 percent of viruses and bacteria,” such as Clorox wipes. (They are out of stock most places right now, but retailers are working hard to replenish their supplies.)

“It’s good to start by focusing on areas you and your family touch most,” says Michele Carroccio, brand manager for Window Genie. “Some are obvious such as door handles, faucets, fridge/oven door, countertops and toilets. Then there are surfaces not everyone thinks about as ‘high traffic’ such as windows, window knobs, and sills. As the weather fluctuates this time of year, we’ll be opening and closing our windows almost daily. It’s important to include those surfaces when cleaning.”

In the Kitchen

  • In addition to fridge, freezer, oven and dishwasher handles, pay attention to cabinet knobs, and the inside of your fridge, like the handles of vegetable drawers.
  • The microwave and toaster can be overlooked, so pay special attention to their buttons and knobs. Don’t forget to wipe down pan handles and covers.
  • When it comes to the sink, scour not only the faucet handles but the water sprayer as well. And if you use chef’s knives regularly, take them out of the knife block and wipe them down when you are disinfecting the rest of the kitchen.

In the Bathroom

  • Change hand towels daily, Rapinchuk suggests. If you’ve got the space, you may consider giving each member of the family their own hand towel to use.
  • Target sink handles, your soap dish, and the medicine cabinet.
  • Pay attention to toothbrush handles, hairbrush handles,  and makeup cases and brushes.

In the Bedroom

  • Consider washing your pillowcases more frequently.
  • Pay attention to your night-stand table and any drawer handles you touch frequently.
  • Wipe down anything you bring into the bedroom at night or use in bed including water bottles or cups, hand or body lotion, eye glasses, your books or reading devices, the TV remote, and your phone.

Your Electronics

  • Don’t be worried about liquid getting into your mobile devices, keyboards or TV remotes. Rubbing alcohol or cleaner on a squeezed-out disinfectant wipe will evaporate before seeping into cracks or openings. Just be sure to check that there are no warnings about using rubbing alcohol on delicate electronic surfaces.
  • If possible, use a microfiber cloth (which doesn’t scratch). A paper towel used gently is a good second choice.

Centers for Disease Control-approved disinfectants include all items in the Clorox and Lysol lines, such as Clorox toilet cleaner with bleach ($2.99, Office Depot), Clorox disinfecting spray (currently out of stock on Amazon, but keep checking back!), Lysol disinfectant max cover mist (also out of stock right now), Lysol toilet bowl cleaner ($4.79, Office Depot), and Lysol multi-surface cleaner and disinfectant spray ($2.32, Walmart)

“We don’t recommend DIY disinfectants for everyday cleaning as it’s difficult to ensure its effectiveness against viruses and bacteria for the variety of surfaces in the home,” says Carroccio. “But an effective glass cleaner that can be used for windows, shower doors, mirrors and glass tables is a one to one ratio of rubbing alcohol and water with a microfiber towel. This will sanitize the surface and yield a streak-free finish.”

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