When I had envisioned myself becoming a “responsible adult that cleans regularly,” the visual I had in mind was of the Monica Geller variety, who washed dishes in a wedding dress, made DIY magical cleaning solutions, and enjoyed vacuuming her vacuums. I had achieved that to some degree, until the current events were upon us and I, instead, morphed into a combination of Miss Pillsbury from Glee (with me wiping down every single grape I’m about to eat) and Meredith Gray (with my hand washing turning into scrubbing in for surgery).
We’ve all been hearing how important it is to keep our hands sanitized and disinfected through proper washing, and the things we touch and use daily should follow suit. According to the CDC, transmission of the novel coronavirus (or COVID-19) occurs via respiratory droplets, and based on current evidence, it can persist for hours to days on surfaces and objects made from a variety of materials. “Cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in households and community settings.”
Some of the items and spots on this list might come simply as common sense, but some are things you might not think about that definitely deserve your attention. As we all know, these aren’t typical times, and having a keen sense of best cleaning practices could honestly be the superpower that gets you through these tough days. Pop on some headphones, pop open a window, and wipe away!
1. Cell Phones
Most (if not all) of us prance around all day with our phones literally clutched to our sides, as if they’re a vital organ essential for our survival. We have entire virtual lives on these devices, so of course we’re going to carry them around wherever we travel—whether it be a grocery run, a walk with our dog, to the bathroom (don’t lie), or a dramatic shift from our bed to our sofa.
That said, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that our phones are one of the germ-iest things we touch all day—so much so, that a study conducted by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine discovered that fecal matter can be found on every one out of six smartphones, according to CNN Health. In other words, we’re all pretty nasty. Keep those phones disinfected at least once a day with these cleaning tips.
2. Laptops & Computers
When we’re working from home (or online shopping, streaming, video chatting, or doing honestly anything), these devices are where every single finger is engaged and constantly tapping away, inserting bacteria into the crevices of our keyboard and mouse. While it’s not as dangerous to get infected from germs on your laptop or computer—granted you’re the only one using them and not taking them outside your home—you should still practice good hygiene in keeping them sanitized.
A recent paper by the Journal of Hospital Infection revealed that human coronaviruses such as SARS, MERS, and HCoV can still persist on surfaces such as metal, glass or plastic for up to nine days, and discussed the methods to efficiently inactivate them Not sure how to clean your computer safely? This handy video by Business Insider is here to help.
3. Remote Controls (TV, fan, video games, etc.)
Netflix and chill? No. Netflix and disinfect. Until recently, I hadn’t realized how much time I spend clasping onto my TV remote, since more hours are taken up by me shuffling through options on what to watch than actually watching something.
Think of all the stuff your poor remotes (whether they be to control your television, video games, or anything else) have to deal with. You often snack on food, then you touch your remote. You need to pause a movie to blow your nose, then you touch your remote. You scroll through Instagram on your phone, but then realize you’ve missed a key line in the show you were watching simultaneously, and need to rewind… you touch your remote. I think I’ve made my point clear, so now you can follow this useful guide on how to disinfect your remote controls, by HuffPost.
4. Commonly-Touched Fixtures (Doorknobs, Light Switches, Faucets, Flush)
Imagine this daily occurrence: You come home, you open and close the main door, you need to run to the bathroom, you open and close the bathroom door, you turn on the light, you do what you’ve got to do, you flush, you need to wash your hands, and you turn on the faucet. You’ve basically blessed germs and bacteria onto every single object you’ve just touched in every single maneuver before you got to washing your hands—and that is why each of these things need to be properly sanitized on a regular basis.
You can use disinfecting wipes, or use a liquid solution on some paper towel to wipe down these objects thoroughly. According to Good Housekeeping, these are the types of products you should and should not use to sanitize and disinfect your home.
5. Commonly-Used Surfaces
Our kitchen countertops, bathroom countertops, dining tables, and coffee tables are some of the most commonly touched surfaces in our homes, and should be sanitized as often as possible (yes, I’m talking multiple times a day here). The CDC themselves said, “current evidence suggests that novel coronavirus may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials,” and that it’s important to make sure you clean and disinfect using EPA-registered disinfectants with labels indicating they are safe for use. Also make sure you take precautions when sanitizing, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have proper ventilation.
6. Food Deliveries
Now, I know we’re getting into the nitty gritty here at this point, but I think you can agree with me when I say that these days, there’s really no such thing as cleaning and disinfecting “too much.” Many of us have been ordering food from our favorite local restaurants, which is a great way to support our local businesses and the economy. While cooked foods are unlikely to be of concern when handled properly, and we should trust that deliverers are doing the best they can to interact safely with others, they can still be exposed to germs given the amount and range of people they interact with (and who those people interact with), which can get to be a pretty big web.
To just take that extra step for your safety, be sure to dispose of plastic and paper bags as soon as your food arrives (or if it comes in hard packaging, wipe it down), wash your hands, and sanitize take-out containers with antibacterial wipes or spray.
7. Handbags & Wallets
Any time we go out, these little fellas go out with us, whether it be on a walk, grocery run, to the pharmacy, or the doctor. We are constantly touching our handbags and wallets to whip out our hand sanitizer, to grab a hair tie, to pay for things, and so much more. Public Health Specialist Carol Winner told HuffPost that fabrics and articles of clothing can hold the respiratory droplets that cause the coronavirus to be transmitted, and while these particles can dry out over time, it doesn’t mean that that happens quickly. Thankfully, smoother fabrics like leather are easier to wipe down and disinfect.
8. Your Steering Wheel
Now, this was the one I didn’t even think about for a long time, until I realized how much of a big deal this is. Many of us don’t even think about disinfecting our cars—we usually just wait for the next oil change to maybe ask to get it quickly wiped down from the inside.
But when you think about all the places you go, and the thing you touch the longest after going to these places, it turns out that that thing is your steering wheel. Of course, it’s also important to keep your car door handles and dashboard clean and germ-free as well, but pay extra attention to the wheel by wiping it down thoroughly with disinfectant wipes as often as you can.