Cleaning and Disinfecting During COVID-19

Cleaning and Disinfecting During COVID-19 | Dr. Ali Ghahary

Along with taking all of the necessary precautions that we know we need to take, such as physical distancing (including keeping at least 2 metres of distance between ourselves and others, working remote where possible, and limiting our social bubbles) as well as washing our hands regularly, there are other things that we can do in order to protect against the spread and development of COVID-19, such as regular cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces and other high-traffic areas.

What Things Need to Be Cleaned?

Whether you’re at home or in the office, use of commonly used cleaners and disinfectants (as approved by Health Canada) can help to significantly limit the spread of COVID-19. Examples of frequently touched surfaces include things such as:

• Counter tops
• Tables
• Handles
• Toilets
• Doorknobs
• Light switches
• Photocopiers
• Printers
• Telephones
• Fax Machines
• Remote Controls
• Computer keyboards

What Cleaning Agents Can Be Used?

As you are probably well aware, many of the common household cleaning agents that we’re used to finding in stores are experiencing shortages. Therefore, if you cannot find any in store, you can also mix your own cleaning solution by combining room temperature water (never hot water) with bleach. Part of the disinfecting process also includes drying. If you’re going to be using bleach, then it is recommended that you clean the surface with a clean, wet cloth afterward. However, high-touch areas, such as toilets and sinks, should be left for several minutes before being wiped down to ensure the area is properly disinfected and no bacteria is left lingering.

If you are going to be using bleach, you should also take certain safety precautions. For example, solutions that are more concentrated can cause irritation to the eyes and throats, which is why it’s recommended that you dilute bleach with water. However, you should never mix it with other products such as vinegar, ammonia, acids (such as lemon juice) or rubbing alcohol, as this can create gases that are toxic. You should also keep windows open and wear gloves when you are using bleach, as well as carefully clean the equipment (such as buckets and sponges) you make and use the bleach with. If you happen to have kids or pets, bleach and other cleaning agents should always be tightly sealed and stored in spots that are hard-to-reach, as they can be incredibly harmful (and even fatal) to children and animals.

If you or someone in your household has been accidentally exposed to a cleaning product (this includes inhalation, ingestion, eye or skin exposure), then you should contact your local Poison Control Centre by calling 1-800-567-8911.

Do I Need to Disinfect Grocery Items?

While you can wipe down grocery items such as cans and cardboard boxes with a disinfecting wipe, you should never put disinfectant directly onto your food. Instead, rinse foods (such as fruits and vegetables) under water before consuming them. It is important to note that there have been no reported cases of anyone becoming ill with COVID-19 as a result of the foods they eat. As for the kitchen utensils you use, such as bowls, mugs, forks/spoons/knives, pots and pans, these also do not need to be disinfected with any harsh cleaners and can instead be washed using warm soap and water.

Clothing

If you live on your own and in your own home, you can safely do your laundry. However, if you live with someone who is sick or have a shared laundry space (for example, if you live in an apartment building where there are other residents), you should take extra precautions, such as wearing gloves and a mask when in laundry rooms, placing your laundry in a basket lined with plastic (i.e. a garbage bag), avoid shaking dirty laundry, and make sure you wash your laundry with soap and water (at least 60 to 90 degrees Celsius.)