5 Tips On How To Keep Your Home Safe From COVID

This is the fourth blog in a series on Stay Safe During The Pandemic.

Here are 5 tips on how to keep your home safe against Coronavirus, COVID-19 from the Canadian government, and other experts.

How To Keep Your Home Safe From COVID

In some of the previous tips presented in the previous blogs on this topic, the government recommends that you disinfect your surfaces  after you have put food from outside the house on them and that you disinfect your surfaces and utensils before and after preparing food.

What is a disinfectant?

It is a process to remove most of the bacteria and viruses from surfaces. Sterilization is the complete removal of these microorganisms, while disinfection is the removal of most of the bacteria and viruses.

What is a sanitizer?

Sanitizing is a process to reduce the number of bacteria and viruses, but it is less strong than disinfection.

How to make a home disinfectant

Here is the recipe from the Canadian government on how to make a home disinfectant. Mix 5 mL of household bleach, 5%, in 250 mL water.

How to make your own sanitizer.

Mix 5 mL of household bleach, 5%, in 750 mL water.

With these solutions, you take a clean cloth or a paper towel, dip it in the solution and you have your disinfectant or sanitizing wipe to clean surfaces and keep your home safe.

Of course, you can use disinfectant or sanitizing wipes from the store as well. But if you run out, or you want a less expensive solution, the above recipes are approved by the government for disinfection and sanitizing. These products will keep your home safe from coronavirus, COVID-19.

TIP: If you use plastic measuring spoons and cups for cleaning chemicals, do not use them for food. Even after washing, the plastic can absorb the cleaning chemicals and then pass those chemicals to your food. Have dedicated plastic utensils for measuring cleaning products or use glass and clean it well after.

Do we need to use bleach to adequately clean surfaces against COVID-19? Or not?

Bleach: the pros and cons

There is a debate on this subject. Bleach is a very strong alkaline and it can be harsh on the environment and for the people working with it over time. At the moment, bleach is being used all around the world, in larger quantities than usual, to clean surfaces because of coronavirus. Do we really need to use all this bleach in order to keep our homes and surfaces safe from COVID?

Bleach can damage your clothes, irritate your skin, and breathing the fumes is not good for the lungs. It is an irritant and a corrosive. Bleach can damage certain types of materials, so you want to check first that it is safe for the surface where you intend to use it.

If you do clean with bleach, there are several recommendations in this article from healthline published in 2019 . Make sure that the area where you are cleaning is well ventilated so that you are not breathing in the fumes. Do not mix bleach with any other chemical, as harmful or poisonous gases can be created.

This article from The Washington Post, 2019, has tips on the use of bleach from a professor and doctor of osteopathic medicine. As bleach is a disinfectant and not a cleaner, it will lose the ability to disinfect on dirty surfaces. First, you need to clean any surface that you are going to disinfect, to get rid of the dirt.

Always dilute the bleach as it is too strong, even at 5%, to be used undiluted.

Wear gloves when you work with bleach so that your skin is protected. If you are going to use bleach to clean a surface with a brush, wear eye protection as well as gloves.

Never mix bleach with another cleaning product or natural cleaner like vinegar. When mixed with certain products, bleach will produce a poisonous gas that can damage your lungs or kill you.

According to an article published June 29, 2020 on bleach toxicity, Bleach Toxicity by Thomas Benzoni and Jason D. Hatcher, bleach is very good at killing coronavirus within 1 minute with a 0.1% concentration of hypochlorite bleach.

However, safety around the use of bleach is very important. It will irritate any human tissue it comes into contact with and is not intended to be taken internally. You do not drink or inject bleach, even a dilute solution. Annually, there are trips to the hospital by people who have incorrectly handled bleach. Safe and correct handling is very important.

On the other side of the coin, there are experts that say that soap and water are adequate to kill coronavirus, so do we need to use so much bleach?

Soap and water pros and cons

An article in The National Geographic Magazine  says that using soap and water is more than adequate to inactivate coronavirus, COVID-19. The article quotes a leading virologist at Cambridge University, Jane Greatorex, who says that using bleach is like using a sledgehammer to kill a fly. The article presents the evidence on why soap and water are effective against coronavirus.

Also, NBC News reported on March 17, 2020, reported that soap and water are good enough to get rid of coronavirus on surfaces. The article quotes an organic chemist who clarifies that many soaps we use are actually detergents which means they will not only clean but disinfect as well. The article also talks about other household cleaners that are effective against coronavirus, COVID-19.

Consumer Reports magazine lists products that are effective at de-activating coronavirus: soap & water, bleach, isopropyl alcohol 70% or more, hydrogen peroxide 3%.

Plus a medical professor from the University of Alberta says that soap and water are enough to deactivate the virus and have been proven to be effective. To understand how soap and water work on coronavirus, COVID-19, see my blog where I describe the process.

There are other household products that are effective against coronavirus

Hydrogen peroxide, 3%, and Isopropyl alcohol/rubbing alcohol, 70%, are both effective at disinfecting surfaces, instead of bleach. See the article on cleaning your home from the Center for Disease Control in the US.

Use these products as they come out of the bottle. They do not need to be diluted. Please note that hydrogen peroxide can discolour fabrics and isopropyl alcohol can damage some plastics.

Do vinegar and other natural products kill COVID?

Vinegar is a weak acid and it is good for certain types of cleaning, but it is not strong enough to get rid of coronavirus. Therefore, do not rely on vinegar for that purpose. David Suzuki and a medical professor from the University of Alberta, Dr. David Evans,  say do not rely on vinegar or tea tree oil to clean coronavirus off of surfaces.

As well, vodka and other drinking alcohols do not have enough alcohol in them to be effective according to the consumer reports article. Products from the liquor cabinet are not effective either. Keep them for your drinking enjoyment.

Summary

In summary, there is not a consensus on the best way to eradicate coronavirus from surfaces. Both the Canadian government and the CDC, recommend using soap and water to clean your surfaces then using a disinfectant as a second step. Other experts recommend soap and water only as being adequate for the home. All of the above products have good evidence that they will eliminate or reduce the number of coronavirus on a surface to keep your home safe.

The decision is yours on what you decide to do. Your personal circumstances make a difference as well. Are there ill people in your family, people with asthma, COVID, or people that work in high-risk situations? What are the ages of the people in your household? All of these play a part in your decision.

Products approved for removing viruses from surfaces

Both the US and the Canadian governments have lists of products that have been proven or that are recognized as effective against coronavirus, COVID-19.

Here is the link to the US list from the Environmental Protection Agency, and here is the link to the Canadian government list.

It is recommended that any products you do use for cleaning in the home and to clean viruses from surfaces have been approved for that use. The approval also means that the governments or agencies have verified that the product will be effective for what it claims to be able to do.

Tip Summary On How To Keep Your Home Safe From COVID

  1. The recipes for making a home disinfectant and home sanitizing solution.
  2. If you use plastic for cleaning chemicals, do not use it for food.
  3. Experts say that soap and water are enough for cleaning in the home.
  4. Vinegar and tea tree oil are not strong enough to eliminate coronavirus.
  5. Isopropyl alcohol and hydrogen peroxide are strong enough to eliminate coronavirus.
  6. Home liqueurs like rum, gin, and vodka are not strong enough to eliminate coronavirus.

For more information on the subject of keeping your food and home safe from CIVID, check out my previous three blog posts:

  1. Best Practices Against COVID In The Home 5 Tips To Keep Your Food Safe
  2. 9 Tips On How To Stay Safe While Shopping During COVID
  3. Safe Home Delivery Tips And Should You Wash Your Groceries?

Check out my video on the topic in this blog.

Check out posts on other topics here: Blog Table of Contents.

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Comments are welcome. I would love to know what you think.

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