The best way to keep germs and bacteria away from surfaces is to clean them regularly. A general household cleaner can help, but you may need disinfectants or stronger bleach solutions for filthy surfaces.
Germs hang out on high-touch areas everyone uses, like kitchen handles and coffee tables. To lower your risk, clean these spots often and use an EPA-registered disinfectant.
Many disinfectant wipes are EPA registered antimicrobial pesticides designed to kill germs (bacteria, viruses, mold) by disrupting their cell wall, just like hand soap does. However, not all disinfectants are approved to kill all kinds of germs so it is important to read the label and follow instructions. Wipes will generally stay wet for a short amount of time so it is important to let them sit on the surface of the item you are cleaning for the recommended duration of time.
Wash Your Hands Often
Keeping your hands germ-free is always essential, especially in the kitchen and after using the bathroom. Thorough handwashing with liquid soap can help prevent gastrointestinal infections and respiratory diseases like colds, flu, and coronavirus. Cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces, such as faucet handles and phones, can also keep risky germs from spreading to others.
In addition to washing your hands regularly with regular soap and water, use EPA-registered disinfectant wipes for hard, nonporous food-contact surfaces in the kitchen and around your home. These wipes are bactericidal, tuberculocidal, and virucidal to kill germs that cause these infections.
Read the label carefully to ensure you're buying EPA-registered disinfectant wipes. Some disinfectant wipes are marketed as "sanitizing" or "antibacterial" but are alcohol-based and do not kill virus germs. Look for an EPA registration number on the product's label and follow the instructions. The EPA's website provides a list of disinfectants that have been approved. This will make saving money on products that don't work easier.
Clean Your Sink Daily
Wiping and rinsing are not enough to kill the germs that can spread around your kitchen while cooking or eating.
Before sanitizing, you must empty your sink and move dishes away from the basin. Squirt a few drops of dish soap on a sponge and wash the sink. Be sure to scrub all surfaces, especially between fingers, on the backs of hands, and under nails. And rinse well, aiming for 20 seconds.
Once the sink is clean, make a more extensive mixture of baking soda and vinegar and pour it down your drain. The reaction will break up gunk and sanitize the drain while the hot water flushes it out before it can build up again. Then, sanitize your sink handle and faucet with an antibacterial cleaner. Finally, dry the sink with a microfiber towel.
Sanitize Your Kitchen Sponges
The sink where food gets washed, the counters where preparing meals happen, and the sponge that soaks up the water and juices are home to some of the germiest areas in your kitchen. The CDC recommends using disinfectants to clean and sanitize these surfaces.
The main difference between cleaning and sanitizing is that cleaning removes visible dirt and debris from surfaces, while sanitizing kills bacteria and viruses that are not visible to the naked eye. Use an EPA-registered disinfectant on all hard, nonporous surfaces to quickly kill Covid-19 (and other viruses) and E. coli, salmonella, and other bacteria in 30 seconds.
Soft surfaces, such as throw pillows and plush toys, must also be sanitized regularly. They can be cleaned with the same products that disinfect hard surfaces but must be allowed to dry completely between uses. Also, quick sanitizing with a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution can kill SARS-CoV-2 and other germs on nonporous surfaces. Make sure to launder all linen and towels with detergents recommended by the CDC.
Clean Your Electronics
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all households clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces often, especially when a sick family member. This includes wiped-down doorknobs, counters and TV remotes, keyboards, computers, and phones. These items should be disinfected daily with EPA-registered wipes that contain an active ingredient approved by the CDC for killing viruses and bacteria.
Keep a supply of germicidal wipes on hand to kill germs in high-touch areas like office desks, light switches, and restroom fixtures. When using disinfectants, pay attention to the instructions on the label and ensure that the surface is kept wet for the required length of contact time.
Look for EPA-registered disinfectant wipes that meet List N requirements, which indicate that the product has been tested against COVID-19 and other difficult-to-kill pathogens. To qualify for List N, a disinfectant must have passed rigorous testing, including a test that exposes the product to enveloped pathogens that are better able to hide from disinfectants and survive longer than other types of viruses.
Clean Your Doorknobs
Surfaces like doorknobs are germ-covered hot spots that often get touched by multiple people, making them breeding grounds for illness-causing bacteria and viruses. Cleaning them regularly with disinfectant wipes is essential to keeping your family safe, especially after someone in the household gets sick.
Many disinfectants, including those you can buy at a store, have long contact times, meaning they must stay wet on a surface for 10 minutes or more to kill virus germs effectively. This may be fine at home, but this is a big problem for professional cleaning services.