Now that restrictions are easing and we can again enjoy the company of our family and friends, we’ve pulled together some tips on how to clean your home after having guests over. As a bonus you’ll not only be preventing the transmission of COVID-19, but coming up to winter, implementing these measures can protect you from the common cold and flu as well!
Here are our top tips to cleaning your home once your guests have left – step one being to put on you rubber gloves and keep your hands away from your face.
1. What and where to clean
Naturally, thoroughly sanitising all high traffic areas is a must – while door handles, light switches and frames are no-brainers, areas like front gate latches and gates, the walls near your toilet, hand towels and holders and the frame of chairs are less obvious. Clean any condiment jars or bottles or other entertaining related items if they are used by guests before you put them away.
It also helps to understand how long the virus lives on different surfaces:
- Some studies have shown similar viruses, such as SARS, can live on surfaces such as plastic or glass for up to nine days.
- Preliminary studies on COVID-19 have shown it may persist on surfaces such as cardboard for up to 24 hours.
- It is not yet clear how long it survives on fabric or clothing.
- COVID-19 may stay on other surfaces anywhere from a few hours up to several days (which may again vary under different conditions; such as surface-type, temperature or humidity.
- Research suggests the virus loves the cold – even freezing temps – but hates warmth.)
Pro tip: make your own life easier by trying to stick to entertaining in the one room and having one bathroom for guests while they are over.
2. Understand the difference between cleaning and disinfecting
While cleaning surfaces may reduce germs (but won’t kill them) disinfecting is what kills the virus. You can clean first with a detergent and water, but to disinfect, you’ll need to use a bleach-based or an alcohol-based solution with at least 70% alcohol. Also, keep in mind that while some disinfecting solutions can kill viruses quickly, it is best practice to leave the solution on the surface you are cleaning for 5-10 minutes.
Pro tip: The Australian Department of Health says you should use a disinfectant that claims ‘antiviral activity’, meaning it can kill a virus (such as chlorine-based disinfectants).
3. Antibacterial is not anti-viral
While antibacterial products are great for keeping e-coli and other bacterial nasties off your chopping boards, kitchen surfaces and bathroom areas, they are not capable of eliminating viruses, including COVID-19. While some antibacterial products can do both, you need a product that specifically claims to kill both. And yes, you can use cleaning wipes that meet the criteria for killing viruses – but apply the same amount of effort as you would a spray and cloth treatment.
Pro tip: disinfectant products containing at least 62–71% ethanol, 0.5% accelerated hydrogen peroxide or 0.1% sodium hypochlorite can remove a virus within one minute – but stay safe by ensuring they stay on the surface for five to ten minutes and always follow the instructions.
4. Do not mix and match to DIY your own ‘antiviral’ cleaning products
It is tempting to go for maximum force by combining cleaning chemicals and detergents or natural products such as vinegar or your home-made hand sanitiser. However, if you are not a chemist, avoid potentially deadly fumes (or damage to your surfaces or skin) by mixing up your own brews. Use each, clean off each, but don’t introduce them to each other!
Pro tip: While vinegar may have antiviral properties, it is not as effective as purpose made cleaning products, so be aware it may not kill any COVID-19 virus present on a surface.
While we’ve made great strides to reduce the spread of COVID-19 around the country, it’s important to keep up the extra precaution to continue to stay safe and virus-free. Cleaning up thoroughly after having guests over is a relatively easy way to do your part and, as a bonus, end up with a satisfyingly clean home.