Tips for Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Home
Tips for Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Home
On an average day, 85% of women and 71% of men spent at least some time at home doing household activities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You eat, sleep, relax, and entertain in your home, so its cleanliness is key to your health and enjoyment.
A study published in the Journal of Environmental Health analyzed 22 average households for mold, bacteria, and dirt. The study found countless bacteria present in seemingly clean homes, including Escherichia Coli and Staphylococcus Aureus. Learning how to properly clean and disinfect your home is important to the health and safety of your household.
Cleaning vs Disinfecting
While many people use the terms “cleaning” and “disinfecting” interchangeably, there are differences between the two terms. When you clean surfaces in your home, you’re reducing the number of germs and bacteria present.
When you disinfect your home’s surfaces, you’re removing and killing the germs and bacteria. Sanitizing is another word that’s frequently used when it comes to killing germs. Some products are labeled as “sanitizers” instead of disinfectants.
When you use these products properly, they help reduce and eliminate bacteria on the surfaces in your home. However, disinfectants are generally more effective at killing mold, bacteria, and germs so it’s important to choose the proper cleaner.
Read the Label
To ensure your disinfectant does its job effectively, follow the instructions on the label. Not only do these instructions make sure that the product functions properly, but they also save your home surfaces from potential damage. Some products may advise you to dilute them with water before use.
There are many disinfectants on the market so choosing the right product may seem overwhelming. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers a list of approved home disinfectants that are known for their effectiveness and safety. When you choose a registered disinfectant, you know the product is proven to work and safe for your home.
Using Home Disinfectants
The disinfectant dilution process can be dangerous if you're not careful. When diluting your cleaning product, follow the instructions on the label and be sure to:
- Wear protective gloves and eyewear.
- Complete the process in a room with adequate ventilation.
- Only use the amount of product listed on the label.
- Label your new diluted solution clearly.
- Avoid mixing other products or chemicals together.
- Use room-temperature water, unless otherwise specified.
- Keep your cleaning products out of reach of children and pets.
If a household member has asthma or is particularly vulnerable to chemicals, only dilute disinfectants when they’re not close by.
Tips for Disinfecting Different Rooms
Different rooms, surfaces, and sections in your home may require unique attention to be sufficiently disinfected. Before addressing the areas in your home you plan to disinfect, it’s important to acquire the proper supplies.
Consider what’s the most convenient for you, your cleaning goals, and the surfaces you’re disinfecting when choosing supplies. You may need wipes, sponges, paper towels, or hand towels. You may need different supplies or disinfectants for each area of your home.
You generally use your kitchen several times every day to prepare food. Since food can carry harmful bacteria, such as salmonella, it’s crucial to keep frequently-touched surfaces clean.
Disinfecting wipes are an easy way to clean your kitchen since you can wipe down areas, then throw out the wipes. It’s important to wipe cabinet handles and drawer handles to kill bacteria and viruses. Glassware and dishes should also be cleaned thoroughly after every use.
Your living room is full of soft surfaces, such as your couch and pillows. Most hard-surface disinfectants can harm these materials so you’ll need cleaning products designed for soft surfaces instead.
Other surfaces, such as your coffee table and light switches, should also be disinfected regularly. Read the label on your disinfectant to ensure it’s safe to use on these surfaces and follow the directions carefully.
Since the bathroom is exposed to bodily fluids on a daily basis, it must be properly disinfected. Use a disinfectant on the sink, faucet handles, shower, toilet, and tub. Clean frequently-touched surfaces, such as the light switches and toilet handle.
Inspect your bathroom for water damage, which may occur if the tub or toilet isn’t sealed properly. If left untreated, water damage can lead to dangerous mold growth, which may require professional restoration services to remove harmful spores and more established mold growth that cannot be managed with routine surface treatment.
You may need a special disinfecting spray to address soft surfaces, such as your mattress and pillows. Clean and disinfect your bedroom furniture, paying close attention to drawer pulls and other frequently-touched surfaces. You likely walk around in your bedroom barefoot, so it’s also important to disinfect the floor.
HVAC, Ventilation, Filtration
Your HVAC system circulates air inside your home so it’s important that it’s clean. If your home ever experienced a fire and had smoke damage, have the ducts remediated, and cleaned thoroughly.
Change out your HVAC filters regularly and consider purchasing the highest-rated filter that’s recommended for your system. This reduces your exposure to allergens and airborne bacteria.
Tips for Disinfecting Household Items
Different types of surfaces in your home also require different treatments for adequate disinfection. It’s important to use cleaners that are safe for these surfaces but that are also effective at killing bacteria and viruses.
Soft Surfaces, Washable, and Non-Washable Fabrics
If your soft surfaces are safe for the washing machine, such as sheets and pillowcases, complete the cleaning cycle with warm water and dry the items thoroughly. Read the label on your disinfectant and if it’s safe for soft surfaces, such as carpet, consider spraying it on, letting it sit, then vacuuming. You can also use soap and water if the disinfectant isn’t recommended for those surfaces.
The buttons on electronics are touched frequently, so properly disinfecting them is crucial. Consider installing a plastic cover on your tablet, remote, or keyboard, so you can easily wipe it down with disinfectant.
Disinfectant sprays with at least 70% alcohol are generally effective at killing bacteria on electronics. However, it’s important to review the manufacturer’s label to ensure the spray won't damage your items.
When you wash your clothes, towels, or linens, use the warmest setting that’s still safe for your items. Dry your laundry thoroughly to prevent bacteria from growing. Wipe down your clothes hamper with a safe disinfectant regularly.
Using the proper disinfectants ensures you kill the bacteria, germs, and viruses that can cause illness. When you keep your home disinfected, you and your family members can enjoy a healthy, safe, and clean environment.