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.

Join my monthly newsletter to get new posts in your mailbox and access to the recipe cards and tip sheets.

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

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Safe Home Delivery Tips And Should You Wash Your Groceries?

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

How long will coronavirus, COVID-19 last on surfaces?

Do we need to wash our groceries?

What do you need to do to stay safe with home deliveries and take-out food?

tangerines
Box of tangerines.

Do you wonder about these questions or even have debates about them with family and friends? This article will look at recommendations from the Canadian government and experts on these questions.

Tips From The Canadian Government For Take-out Food And Deliveries

Pay online or use contactless methods

Try to pay online when you make your order. If that is not an option, then try to pay using a contactless method by tapping your card, or using your phone to pay.

If you are going to pay by cash then both you and the delivery person should be wearing a mask, as you will have to get closer than 2 metres to hand-over the cash.

Keep a 2 metre distance

You and the delivery person should maintain a 2 metre, 6 foot distance. Most delivery people now will drop the delivery at your door, ring your doorbell and then distance themselves from the door before you open it.

If the delivery person must get close to you for a signature, as an example, or for another reason, then you should both wear masks.

Wash your hands after handling food or deliveries

Once you bring the food or delivery in the house, immediately wash your hands.

Put your food away

If the delivery was food, it should be put away as soon as possible. See the previous blog post, dated July 29, 2020 on Best Practices Against Covid In The Home To Keep Your Food Safe, for more information on the steps to follow when bringing groceries home from shopping and what to do once you are home.

Wash your hands

After putting your food away, wash your hands again.

Do not eat from takeout container

This tip is from the Mayo Clinic, Can COVID-19 (coronavirus) spread through food, water, surfaces and pets? The article states that it is best to bring your take-out food home, wash your hands, then transfer the food to a clean plate for eating. Then you should wash your hands again before your eat. If you put the take-out containers on a counter, you should wash the counter and then wash your hands again.

With these tips you will ensure that having items delivered to your home and eating take-out food is still safe.

How long will COVID-19 last on surfaces?

Research was done reported in the National Institute of Health in March 2020, New Coronavirus Stable on Surfaces For Hours, and it was also reported in the New England Journal of Medicine in April 2020, Aerosol and Surface Stability of SARS-CoV-2 as compared with SARS-CoV-1.

This research showed that generally the virus could survive on copper for up to 4 hours, cardboard for up to 24 hours and plastic and stainless steel for up to 3 days. A second study was done and published in the Lancet, Stability of SARS-CoV-2 in different environmental conditions.

Heat Inactivates Coronavirus, COVID-19

The above study found that the virus is heat sensitive and is rendered inactive after 5 mintues at 70 C. As well, on different surfaces, the virus was no longer active after 3 hours on tissue paper, after 2 days on wood and cloth, after 4 days on glass, and after 7 days on stainless steel and plastic.

What Is The Risk Of Getting The Virus From A Surface

The chances of getting coronavirus, COVID-19, from a surface are determined to be very slim. The surface has to be contaminated by someone who is contagious, then someone else has to touch the surface while the virus is still active and then touch their mouth, nose or eyes.

If people are washing their hands whenever they touch a potentially contaminated surface and when they come home, then even if they did get the virus on their hands, they should not be able to get sick, because the handwashing would take care of that.

Should You Wash Your Groceries?

There have not been any reports of people getting the virus from their groceries and for the reasons just mentioned above, governments and experts, do not feel it is necessary for people to wash their groceries.

For example, see this article, from the CBC, Why it may be harder to catch COVID-19 from surfaces than we first thought.

The FDA and CDC, in the US, also have the same recommendation. The risk of getting coronavirus from a surface is very low. See this article for a summary, Food Safety and COVID-19: A Guide For Handling Groceries And Takeout.

The Consensus is?

The consensus from experts and the Canadian and US governments alike is that you do not need to wash your groceries. Follow all the other tips in this article and the two previous ones; Best Practices Against Covid In The Home To Keep Your Food Safe  and 9 Tips On How To Stay Safe While Shopping During Covid, and you will be keeping yourself and your food safe from coronavirus, COVID-19.

What If You Want To Wash Your Groceries

If you want to wash your groceries because you feel safer or less anxious, you can do that. The Canadian and US governments feel it is not necessary to go to that amount of work, but you can do it if you want.

With the exception of fruits, vegetables, produce and any food that is in a porous type of packaging. Any kind of disinfectant, soap or cleaning chemical could be absorbed by the food and render it unsafe to eat. Do not wash these types of foods with soap.

In my blog of I covered the tips on how to wash your vegetables, fruits and produce. Check that this post, Best Practices Against Covid In The Home To Keep Your Food Safe, for more information.

Next week the fourth blog in this series, Stay Safe During The Pandemic, will look at how to make your own disinfectant and santizing solutions, how to clean with soap and water, and general cleaning tips for your kitchen and home.

Check out my video on this topic:

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

Join my monthly newsletter to get new posts in your mailbox and access to the recipe cards and tip sheets.

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

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Best Practices Against Covid In The Home 5 Tips To Keep Your Food Safe

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

Revised July 29, 2020  Originally published July 24, 2020 Deborah Esplin

These tips and best practices come from the Canadian Government on how to keep your food safe from COVID.

  1. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water or use hand sanitizer if you do not have access to soap and water.

Why is the hand wash method effective?

The hand wash method, described in tip 1 is effective but why? Soaps are formulated to chemically bond with oils, proteins, and sugars and pull them from a surface. That surface can be a dirty dish or your hands. COVID is a virus and viruses do not have protective membranes. COVID has an oily coating. So when you wash your hands with soap, the soap bonds with the oily coating around the virus, pulling it away and leaving the virus without protection. The virus is inactivated. That is why it is so important to use soap. Just using water will not clean your hands.

Why warm water? Because soaps are made to work better in warm water. They are more effective.

Why 20 seconds because that is the minimum time you need to get in all the cracks and crevices of your hands.

These are the reasons why it is important to wash hands according to the method so that you will remove dirt, bacteria and Coronavirus.

How to wash fruits, vegetables, and produce

  1. Wash your fruits & vegetables under running water.

Fruits, vegetables, and produce are porous and can absorb soaps. You do not want to wash them with a disinfectant, sanitizer, or soap unless it is a product that is specifically formulated for fruits, vegetables and produce. The foods can absorb the soap and it may not be good for your health. The government recommends putting them under running water to wash away anything.

COVID is not a food-borne illness. You will not get food poisoning from it. A good rinse should be adequate.

Cook your food

  1. Cook your food to recommended safe internal temperatures.

In my blog and video on Outdoor Cooking Eating Do’s & Don’ts, I talked about the minimum internal temperatures to cook various meats and the minimum temperatures to hold cold food. The heat from cooking will deactivate the virus. Click HERE for the blog and HERE for the video. They both review the temperatures from various governments; the USA, Canada, Australia, and the UK.

Keep different foods separate

  1. Keep the raw and cooked foods separate and use separate tools or wash tools with soap and water.

Raw foods can carry all kinds of contamination, bacteria, viruses, bugs, mold, twigs, and more. It is important to keep them separate. You do not want to accidentally contaminate your cooked burgers with E. coli by putting them back on the plate that held the raw burgers. If there were E. coli in the raw meat, you will now have it in your cooked meat.

Clean your surfaces

  1. Disinfect surfaces that come into contact with food

The government recommends that you disinfect your food prep surfaces. In two weeks, I will cover how to make your disinfectant using the recipe from the government and I will also cover other ways to clean and disinfect.

With these tips, you can be confident, that your food and surfaces will be safe from Coronavirus and just general bad bugs that can give you food poisoning.

Tip Summary

  1. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water or use hand sanitizer if you do not have access to soap and water.
  2. Wash your fruits & vegetables under running water.
  3. Cook your food to recommended safe internal temperatures.
  4. Keep the raw and cooked foods separate and use separate tools or wash tools with soap and water.
  5. Disinfect surfaces that come into contact with food.

Check out my video on this topic:

Here is a link to the next blog post in this series: Best Practices Against Covid In The Home To Keep Your Food Safe

Other blog posts in this series:

9 Tips On How To Stay Safe While Shopping During COVID

Safe Home Delivery Tips And Should You Wash Your Groceries?

5 Tips On How To Keep Your Home Safe From COVID

 

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

Join my monthly newsletter to get new posts in your mailbox and access to the recipe cards and tip sheets.

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


 

9 Tips On How To Stay Safe While Shopping During Covid

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

Revised August 2, 2020  Originally published July 28, 2020 Deborah Esplin

Do you wonder how to shop safely during the pandemic? During this time with coronavirus, COVID-19? What should you do to be safe when you get home? We will look at the 9 tips from the government of Canada that answer these questions.

Safe shopping tips during covid
Safe shopping with a mask.

Safe Shopping During Coronavirus, COVID-19

Sanitize your hands at the store entrance

Whether it is required in your area or not, this is a good idea. That way we stop adding to the contamination that people bring into the store and leave in the store. If stores do not have a supply on hand, then bring your own.

Bring your own reusable grocery bags if permitted. Otherwise, use the store bags

If you have reusable grocery bags that can be thrown in the washer that is the best. Then you can use them once and wash them and you know they will be clean. If the stores don’t permit you to bring your own bags, then follow the remaining tips below to be safe.

Maintain a physical distance of 2 metres between people

The stores seem well organized in my area in terms of putting lines on pavement outside the door and at the check out stations. But they are not necessarily that well organized in helping people keep their distance in the aisles. If the aisles have not been marked for one-way traffic, then the best is to follow the flow of people and go in the same direction as everyone else. You may need to slow down your shopping trip so that you wait until aisles are clear and you can safely proceed and keep the distance.

Wear a non-medical mask or face covering in public

Whether it is required in your area or not, wearing a face mask in indoor, public spaces is a good idea.

There have been several studies carried out on people that test positive for the virus but do not feel ill and do not have symptoms. In China, this study was carried out and reported in the journal of Nature Medicine in July 2020. The study found that spread of the virus by asymptomatic people is a significant source of transmission in the population. However, the World Health Organization, in June 2020, says there is not enough research to have a definitive answer on this question. Research is ongoing and there are several studies that do point to the virus being spread by people who do not know they are sick. This article, in the Advisory Board , has a good summary of the research.
For these reasons, by wearing a face mask, we protect other people from our own breath. If we all wear face masks, we protect each other.

Don’t touch items you will not buy

As much as possible, do not touch an item unless you are going to buy it. This way we reduce the contamination between put on the items in the store and we reduce the potential contamination that we can pickup while shopping.

Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth

When you are outside the home and/or wearing a mask, do not touch your face or any part of it. If you hands have become contaminated, you could contaminate yourself. If your mask has become contaminated, you could contaminate your hands and then yourself.
We touch our faces, according to this study, an average of 23 times per hour. Most of the time we are not aware of this. It is a good idea to become aware of when you are touching your face and making a conscious effort to not touch it.

Sanitize your hands when you leave the store

If hand sanitizer is offered by the store when you leave, use it. That way you will not keep any potential contamination on your hands while you continue your errands.

Wash your hands when you get home

This should not surprise anyone. Governments and health experts around the world have been saying this for several months. Whenever you come in your home from having been outside you should wash them with warm water and soap. In my blog last week, Best Practises Against COVID-19 For Your Food (link), I talked about why soap and water are effective. Check that out for more information.
When you come home, if your hands have become contaminated, you don not want to spread that contamination around your house. By washing your hands as soon as you enter, you will prevent that from happening and keep your home safe.

Put away your groceries

Once you have returned home and washed your hands, you put away your groceries.

Wash your hands after putting away the groceries 

Once all the groceries are put away, you wash your hands again. In case there was some contamination on the groceries, you will get it off your hands.

My Safe Shopping Routine

I have a small bag, which I call my COVID kit, and there I have clean masks, baggies for dirty masks, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.
I sanitize my hand and shopping cart when I enter a store. I wear a mask and stay away from people. I will remind people to keep their distance if they get too close. When I leave the store, I sanitize my hands again so that I will not contaminate my car. In case there is no sanitizer at the exit I have my own in my kit.

When I get home, I wash my hands, and put the bags of groceries on the floor. I pull out my food items and put them on the counter for sorting, then I put them away. Then I wash my hands again. I will then wash or disinfect my kitchen counters, put the grocery bags in the wash. With a disinfectant wipe or cloth and disinfectant liquid, I will go clean all the high touch surfaces of my home.
Then I wash my hands again.

With these tips you can feel confident that you are doing enough to be safe when you go out shopping and when you return home.

When Should You Wash Your Hands 

According to the Center for Disease Control, in the US, these are all the times when you should wash your hands.
Before, during and after preparing food

Before eating food

Before and after caring for someone who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea

Before and after treating a cut or wound

After using the toilet

After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet

After glowing your nose, coughing or sneezing

After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste

After handling pet food or pet treats

After touching garbage

After having been in a public place

After touching a surface or item touched by many people

Before your touch your eyes, nose or mouth

The American government recommendations closely follow those of Canada.

If you work in a food plant, you would also wash your hands at every task change, when you enter food production areas, and often, everytime you change rooms, after smoking, after breaks, after touching your face, after coughing or sneezing, and after picking up items from the floor.

Check out my video on this topic:

Here is a link to another blog post in the series: Best Practices Against COVID In The Home To Keep Your Food Safe.

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

Join my monthly newsletter to get new posts in your mailbox and access to the recipe cards and tip sheets.

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

The Weekly Motto – Change brings opportunity. Embrace it.