Stop the spread of nasty germs so you can feel better inside and out. Here’s how to disinfect and sanitize your home from top to bottom.
How to (Really) Disinfect and Sanitize your Entire Home
I’m not even going to mention the “C” word…everyone knows the challenges facing the world today. I will say, control what you can and forget about the rest.
One thing we all can control is the cleanliness of our homes. Plus, thoroughly disinfecting and sanitizing your home will help take your mind off of all the craziness outside!
So, throw open the curtains, pull up the blinds, open the windows (sunlight is a natural disinfectant), and let’s get started!
START WITH YOURSELF-GIRL, WASH YO HANDS!
The absolute best way to avoid illness is to keep yourself as virus-free as possible. One way to do this is by washing your hands thoroughly and frequently.
The World Health Organization has a ridiculously thorough guide to hand-washing here. Seriously, you could perform surgery bare-handed if you follow their guidelines!
If you want the cliff notes, here’s how to properly wash your hands:
- Wet hands with hot water
- Cover hands with soap
- Rub a dub dub for 20 seconds
- Rinse hands with hot water
- Apply lotion/moisturizer
How often should you wash your hands?
- Before and after eating (or feeding babies)
- Before, during, and after preparing food
- After using the restroom
- After touching your face
- Before and after changing diapers
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching garbage and/or garbage can lid
Hand sanitizer is great, but it is not a substitute for washing your hands with soap and hot water. So, don’t panic if you can’t get your ‘hands’ on any!
Another way to stop the spread of germs is to avoid touching your face. This is extremely difficult during allergy season, but still, a vital way to avoid getting sick.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CLEANING, SANITIZING, AND DISINFECTING?
- Cleaning removes dirt and grime
- Sanitizing reduces germs to an ‘acceptable’ level and is most effective on fabric
- Disinfecting eliminates germs and bacteria which stops viruses from spreading
THE BEST (COMMERCIAL) PRODUCTS TO DISINFECT YOUR HOME
- Bleach (Any brand as long as it contains chlorine) 4 tsp. to 1 quart of water per CDC
- Disinfecting Wipes (Clorox, Lysol, or store brand)
- Lysol Disinfectant Spray-disinfects hard surfaces and sanitizes soft surfaces
- Toilet bowl cleaners (with bleach)
- Lysol Multi-Purpose Cleaner
- Lysol Laundry Sanitizer
- Original Pine-Sol or Clorox Pine-Sol Multi-Surface Cleaner (Disinfects hard surfaces. Original Pine-Sol can be used to sanitize fabrics.
Non-chlorine bleach DOES NOT sanitize/disinfect
Tip: Did you know you can use pool chlorine in place of bleach?
Is vinegar a disinfectant? The short answer…NO. Vinegar WILL NOT kill the majority of viruses. It is not an EPA approved disinfectant. While it may kill certain bacteria, it is ineffective against viruses.
For safety’s sake, never, EVER mix household cleaners!
HOMEMADE DISINFECTANTS-WHAT TO DO IF THE STORES ARE OUT OF COMMERCIAL DISINFECTANTS
- Steam-Once you purchase the system, it’s FREE (use distilled water for best results)
- Isopropyl Alcohol- also called rubbing alcohol (Minimum 70%)
- Hydrogen Peroxide– do not dilute.
- (Really Strong) Grain Alcohols: Vodka (at LEAST 140 proof), Everclear (190 proof), or Golden grain (190 proof)
- Essential oils (tea tree, clove, thyme, lavender, eucalyptus) Note: the effectiveness of essential oils for disinfecting has not been scientifically proven
- Borax (for fabrics)
Homemade disinfecting spray recipe
- 15 ounces alcohol (either ethanol or isopropyl)
- 1/2 ounce hydrogen peroxide
- 20 drops essential oil (tea tree, lavender, thyme)
Pour into a spray bottle. Shake and use. Leave on the surface for up to 5 minutes.
Homemade disinfecting wipes recipe
- 1 cup filtered or distilled water
- 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol (minimum 70%)
- 1 Tbs. Dawn dish soap (or liquid Castile soap)
- 20 drops of essential oil (lemon, orange, lavender) OPTIONAL
Cut a roll of paper towels in half using a serrated knife. Remove the cardboard tube. Place in a container with a lid (you can use an empty Clorox wipe container). Mix liquid ingredients and slowly pour over paper towels.
Homemade hand sanitizer recipe
- 6 Tbs. Isopropyl Alcohol (minimum 70%)
- 2 teas. Aloe Vera Gel
Mix and store in covered bottle/container. Use as needed.
CLEAN FIRST THEN DISINFECT AND SANITIZE YOUR HOME
It’s important to note that disinfecting your home is not the same as cleaning your home. Before you begin disinfecting, you should clean surfaces with hot/soapy water or a multi-purpose cleaner.
Believe it or not, there’s a right way and a wrong way to clean your home. For best results, you should always clean a space working clockwise from left to right, and top to bottom.
Try not to get tunnel vision as you clean. Pay special attention to high-traffic areas as well as frequently-touched items. Did you forget something? Here are 80 things people commonly forget to clean.
THINGS YOU SHOULD DISINFECT IN YOUR HOME:
- cell phones
- tablets, laptops, keyboards, mouses
- remote controls
- game controllers
- light switches
- cabinet and drawer pulls
- toilet handles, seats, and lids
- toilet roll holder
- garbage cans and lids
- laundry hampers
- refrigerator door handles
- credit cards
- steering wheels
- car door handles
- gear shifter
- basically, anything you push, pull, click, swipe, and touch on a regular basis
HOW TO DISINFECT (THE RIGHT WAY)
Skip the sponge (it harbors bacteria) and use microfiber or flannel cloths instead. Use a different cloth for each room to avoid cross-contamination.
Spray disinfectant on the surface and allow to sit for the recommended time (usually between 3-5 minutes) for full effectiveness.
How to disinfect cell phones and other electronic devices:
- Dampen a soft cloth or cotton ball with 70% (or higher) rubbing alcohol. Squeeze out excess.
- Turn off phone and remove it from the case.
- Completely coat the device taking special care to avoid open ports.
- Let dry for up to 5 minutes.
- Wipe gently with a clean, flannel or microfiber cloth.
- Repeat the process for the phone case.
How to disinfect toys:
Most hard, plastic toys can be cleaned and disinfected in the dishwasher. Or, placed in a garment bag and washed in the washing machine.
For larger toys, clean with soap and water first, then wipe with a solution of 50/50 bleach and water. Let sit for up to 5 minutes then rinse and dry surfaces.
HOW TO SANITIZE SOFT SURFACES:
Wash bed linens in hot water (use chlorine bleach for whites and non-chlorine bleach for colors). Use the ‘sanitize’ setting if available.
Sanitize stuffed animals by washing on the hottest water setting allowed for the fabric. Hang in the sun to dry, or dry in the dryer on low using wool dryer balls to maintain their shape.
Remove washable covers from throw pillows and furniture and wash in the hottest water setting determined to be safe for the fabric.
Wash towels, washcloths, robes, dishcloths, hand towels, on the hottest setting. Use chlorine bleach if able to.
THINGS TO THROW AWAY AFTER A VIRUS
- kitchen sponge
- body poofs/loofas
- Shared disposable food bottles
- lipstick/balm used during illness
Following these tips to disinfect and sanitize your home will help you stay calm and focus on the things you can control.
Final note: The information in this post follows the CDC’s guidelines for disinfecting your home when you are sick.