Thanks to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), it's become common knowledge that properly washing your hands, keeping said hands away from your face, and staying home can reduce the risk of contracting the coronavirus. With much of the country spending more time tucked inside though, you have to put more thought into keeping your confined space safe and sanitary. To find out what Millennials' biggest coronavirus cleaning questions are, I posted a question sticker to my Instagram Story and ran each germ-y curiosity by sanitation experts.
How do I disinfect my cozy couch?
According to George Mazreku of G's Carpet Cleaning NYC, you need to change the way you think about your living room set up and start treating it as carefully as you would your bedding. If you're wearing clothes that have been out of the house, Mazreku says don't sit on the couch. Only allow yourself to get cozy if you are in clean clothes that haven't touched the outside world. That means no shoes or coats or bags on the couch, either.
To clean your cozy nest, first check to see if your couch has a slipcover — if so, Mazreku says to wash it regularly. "People don't vacuum couches enough; you should vacuum daily," he adds, saying that you can use attachments to vacuum pillows and other upholstered furniture pieces that can't be thrown in the wash. To clean a couch that doesn't have a removable cover, "mix 70% alcohol with some water to dilute it, and lightly spray the sofa with it." If your couch is leather, you'll want to follow this up with a coconut oil or vitamin E conditioning to keep it from drying out.
Should I worry about the air quality in my apartment building?
Though researchers haven't found coronavirus in air samples of contaminated rooms, Mazreku points out that we're spending more time at home now, so air quality is crucial to your health. If your air vents haven't been cleaned, you could be exposed to more harmful bacteria, mold, and dust than before, so it's important to make sure you clean your air vents and keep your lungs healthy as possible. "If you can afford to invest in a high end air purifiers [like Dyson], now is a great time to do so," Mazreku adds.
How do I sanitize my work station and computer?
"People aren't aware of how much they touch their mouths and their faces while they are sitting at their desk," Mazreku tells Bustle, emphasizing how crucial it is to clean your desk daily, just to be safe. "Wipe everything down with a bleach-free disinfectant wipe, or alcohol and water, every morning before you start working," he suggests. "Wipe your devices, the whole surface of the desk, the light switch, the charger, and don't forget your chair —you wouldn't believe how dirty office chairs get." To clean your chair, use only alcohol and water if it's not upholstered, but if it's cloth or leather, make sure to vacuum it, too.
To clean your devices, Mary Gagliardi, aka “Dr. Laundry,” Clorox’s in-house scientist and cleaning expert, recommends "cleaning with a Clorox Disinfecting Wipe and letting the surfaces remain wet for four minutes in order to properly disinfect." She tells Bustle that you should avoid getting moisture in any device opening, and that you shouldn't submerge your product in any disinfecting agent unless it's permitted by the manufacturer. Apple also suggests using a microfiber cloth, spritzed with 70% alcohol and water to disinfect your iPhone, AirPods, Macbook, keyboard, and chargers.
Should I clean my bed and sheets more?
If your mattress is not protected with a waterproof, bug-proof shield, it should be steam cleaned once a year. "Using a mattress protector helps to limit the bacteria and viral germs that can grow in there," Mazreku tells Bustle, adding that you should vacuum your headboard, under your mattress, and around the bed regularly. For extra sanitation during these times, in addition to regularly laundering your bed linens, you can spray your bedding with the alcohol and water mixture and add some essential oils to keep the scent sweet.
How do I disinfect my food after grocery shopping?
"Because we're all taking extra precautions right now, I'd suggest wiping down your table with a disinfectant both before and after you eat," Mazreku suggests. Washing your dishes with soap and hot water carefully, wiping non-porous food packaging from the grocery store down with a disinfectant wipe and scrubbing your produce a bit longer than usual will help you keep the risk down during mealtime.
Gagliardi suggests also using a Clorox Disinfectant Wipe on boxes or packaging that food is delivered in. If you can avoid bringing boxes or delivery packaging into your home, opting to bring it directly out to the recycling bin, that's ideal.
Should I be washing my hair more?
Dr. Saad Omer, director of the Yale Institute for Global Health, told Today that though human hair hasn't yet been tested as a surface host for coronavirus, because it is porous, it's not likely that the virus would live long on it. That said, he does note that if someone with the virus were to cough on your hair, and then your hair were to fall in your face, you could theoretically catch the virus that way. So especially if you wear your hair down, or are spending time in a public setting, it's important to keep it clean with regular shampooing.
Can I reuse gloves?
If you want to use fabric or rubber gloves to grocery shop or pump gas, make sure you clean and disinfect them after each use. You can wash rubber gloves in the sink with soap and warm water, and then sanitize them with an alcohol-based cleaner. If you have fabric gloves, clean them according to label guidelines in the washing machine. But whatever you do, don't waste latex gloves that could be donated to hospitals.
What am I forgetting to clean during this coronavirus pandemic?
Your purse that you bring with you in public, that sits in the grocery cart or touches the checkout counter? "Yeah, that needs to be cleaned with alcohol," Mazreku tells Bustle. Your shoes, your coat, your reusable grocery bags, your keys, your wallet, your credit cards, they all need to be cleaned down with alcohol or disinfectant wipes. If you wear shoes out of the house, you should keep them by the door and get in the habit of leaving the things you wear outside away from the space that you spend time in. If you're getting deliveries, disinfect the door bell, the door knob, the keypad, and anything else your delivery person might touch, once a day.
According to Gagliardi, "should someone in your home have come into contact with an individual with COVID-19 or they themselves are infected, think of anything you handle frequently — recycling or trash bins, coffee maker, remote control, hairdryer, toys, pet toys, leashes, door bells, etc." Then, disinfect these items following the manufacturer’s instructions.
Derek Foster of Daigle Cleaning Services tells Bustle that the number one most important thing to remember while disinfecting your home is to use your cleaning products properly. "A lot of people think you can just spray a disinfectant on a surface and wipe it away immediately and achieve a desirable level of sanitation. But most products need to be left at least five minutes on a surface to properly do the job." Most Clorox products will note that they need to be left on surfaces until dry, or up to 10 minutes.
"Read the back of your EPA-approved cleaning products and follow the directions — or else it won't work," says Foster. If you're just using a DIY alcohol based cleaner at home, Foster notes that you can mist it, and leave it, as it will kill germs and evaporate without needing to be wiped down. "Good cleaning is using products the right way," Foster says, explaining that anyone can do a sufficient job cleaning their home as long as they follow directions.
George Mazreku, G's Carpet Cleaning NYC, Carpet, Wood, Leather & Upholstery Cleaning expert.
Derek Foster, founder of Daigle Cleaning Services, industrial and commercial cleaning expert.
Mary Gagliardi, “Dr. Laundry,” Clorox’s in-house scientist and cleaning expert.