The new coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic can survive on hard surfaces, like plastic and stainless steel, for up to 72 hours, on cardboard for up to 24 hours and on copper for up to four hours, according to a new study by federal scientists. And these are just two of the experiments that revealed a lot of interesting findings about the virus’ viability on a variety of surfaces, as well as in the air.
So now the question on everyone’s mind is: How can I keep surfaces safe? We went to our experts and compiled the latest advice to provide you the answers you need.
What cleaning products are best to use against COVID-19?
The American Chemistry Council’s Center for Biocide Chemistries released a list of household cleaning products preapproved by the Environmental Protection Agency to use against COVID-19. You likely already have some of these products at home. A few items on this list include alcohol-based wipes and bleach. Plain old soap and water are effective as well.
What are best practices for disinfecting frequently used items and surfaces?
It’s important to note that cleaning is the act of removing germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. Cleaning doesn’t kill germs, but it reduces their numbers and the risk of spreading infection. Disinfecting is using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. You should always clean a dirty surface with detergent or soap and water before you disinfect
When you disinfect, first put on disposable or reusable gloves. If you choose reusable gloves, they should only be used for disinfecting surfaces for COVID-19. Wash your hands with soap and water after you take off your gloves.
Items that are frequently touched, such as doorknobs, light switches, phones, toilets and sinks, should be disinfected daily.
- Hard surfaces (for example, counters, desks and tables): Use diluted household bleach, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and the items approved by the EPA in the list linked above. Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use and ventilation, and check that the product has not expired.
- Soft surfaces (for example, carpets, curtains, furniture and rugs): Follow the directions from the manufacturer and only use products that are approved for the kind of surface you are disinfecting. A couch, for example, may not be able to withstand the same cleaners that a carpet can. If the surface is washable, be sure to run it through the laundry after disinfecting. Use the highest possible water temperature when you can.
- Clothing: Follow the laundry directions from the manufacturer. Use the highest possible water temperature when you can. Try not to shake dirty laundry to avoid spreading the virus in the air.
Learn more about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s disinfection recommendations here.