How to Keep Your Home Healthy from Coronavirus

a hand turning on a bathroom sink to wash their hands

Reading time: 4 minutes

At vipHomeLink, our mission is to help improve the safety of your home, so we reached out to Dr. Suzanne Bentley, Medical Director of the Elmhurst Satellite Simulation Center at Mount Sinai, to get answers to important questions you may have about the spread of coronavirus and steps you to take to prevent spread of coronavirus at home.

What areas should I scrub in my home?

a white kitchen counter top with a cactus on top
Clean areas you frequently use, such as kitchen counters.

“At least once daily, I recommend wiping all surfaces that are frequently touched but infrequently cleaned,” says Dr. Bentley.

This imperative step includes cleaning the following areas:

  • doorknobs (“Remember the exterior doorknobs, too!”).
  • kitchen drawer pulls.
  • the kitchen faucet handles.
  • metal towel holders.
  • and baby gate latches.

“If your house is anything like ours, we have baby gates to get to our first-floor bathroom to wash our hands when we come in,” says Dr. Bentley.

To prevent spread of coronavirus at home, health authorities also recommend homeowners pay particular attention to surfaces that come into contact with food.

Notes Dr. Bentley, “This virus, like most other illnesses, is most commonly transmitted from touching infected surfaces and then putting our hands into our mouth or touching our face.”

What about nightstands?

a tissue box on top of a nightstand
Consider using a small bin for dirty tissues.

If you’re ill and using tissues, consider placing a small waste basket on your nightstand or next to your bed for used tissues. Otherwise, wipe nightstands frequently to ensure you’re disinfecting anywhere a soiled tissue may have touched.

How about changing that toothbrush?

a person holds up a toothbrush
Throw out a toothbrush after an illness.

“Never a bad idea!” says Dr. Bentley. “The American Dental Association recommends that you replace your toothbrush approximately every three to four months or sooner if the bristles are frayed. However, you should also change your toothbrush after a cold or illness.”

Can I get coronavirus from my cell phone?

a woman holds a cell phone and is reading the screen
Clean your cell phone at least once a day.

“Think about it,” says Dr. Bentley. “You touch everything, then your phone, and then put it on your face all day.”

To prevent spread of coronavirus at home, wipe down your phone at least once a day (if not more) with an alcohol wipe or Lysol/similar cleaning wipes without beach. Then wash your hands – and if it wasn’t for the recommended 20 seconds, wash your hands again.

Should I worry about my dirty laundry?

a blue laundry basket filled with clothes
Keep up with your wash.

“Most evidence suggests that a hot water wash and your routine laundry detergent of choice are sufficient to clean clothes of COVID-19,” says Dr. Bentley. However, you should change into clean clothes after returning from school or the outdoors, so as not to contaminate your home and bedding.

What about my ceiling fan? Can I use it, or is that how the virus spreads?

a bamboo ceiling fan at a beach house
Ceiling fans only spread the virus if the virus is present.

“Not sure if there is data on this one way or the other, but the virus is in the air,” says Dr. Bentley. “So a ceiling fan could move viral particles around, but if someone is COVID-19 positive, then many surfaces are likely already contaminated.”

Is washing your hands really that important? (Yes!)

“The biggest recommendation I would make is handwashing,” says Dr. Bentley.

The whole process should take between 40-60 seconds and is started by:

  • using warm water (doesn’t need to be hot).
  • turning on the faucet.
  • getting your hands wet.
  • putting soap on your hands.
  • turning the water off.

Dedicate the next 20 seconds to scrubbing and only scrubbing.

The 20-second rule to scrub your hands is necessary and longer than most people realize. Remember to really wash for the whole 20 seconds, not just make your hands soapy and run them under soapy water (“like my five year old is known to do if we aren’t watching,” adds Dr. Bentley). Don’t forget to clean the underside of your nails, under and around your watch or bracelet, and the backs of fingers, too.

a child washes his or her hands outside
Make sure you use the full 20 seconds to scrub.

Sing the happy birthday song or other fun songs you’ve seen suggested on social media that have approximately 20-second choruses. Also, help kids wash their hands as this is not the time to be trusting their independence when hand washing is so crucial. It is the most crucial thing you can do to prevent contracting or spreading the virus.

Finally, use a clean towel or tissue to turn off the sink (“You just turned it on with your ‘not clean’ hand.”) and to open the bathroom door. Dry your hands properly (not on your dirty shirt).

Wash your hands often, always after using the bathroom or before eating, and many times during the day, most importantly right after you cough or sneeze. (“Please try to do that into a tissue or your elbow!”).

Well, if hands are an issue, what about feet?

blue high heels outside of the home, held in one hand
Leave your shoes at the door.

Consider taking off your shoes immediately upon entering the house and placing them on a plastic shoe tray by the front door that you can and should clean weekly. Also, wash your hands immediately after taking off shoes.

“General common sense and hygiene will go a long, long way in decreasing viral transmission and keeping homes virus free,” says Dr. Bentley.

Additional essential information

Visit the CDC website to keep up to date with the spread and risk mitigation of COVID-19. Stay informed through official websites, like the CDC and the World Health Organization. Stay safe by listening and obeying the recommendations of health authorities, and continue to learn how to prevent spread of coronavirus at home as more information becomes available.

Return to vipHomeLink all this week for blogs about working from home, home improvement projects while at home, and additional home safety tips.

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Working from home? Check out Creating a “work away from work” space at home for remote working tips, and don’t miss 5 Super easy home improvements that don’t require an outing.

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