When performing a clean of your home, it’s important to tackle any viruses. These can survive on surfaces and can mean you end up feeling under the weather, so we’ve created an article to help you with your antiviral cleaning. In this article you will find:
Table of Contents
• Antiviral Cleaning Guide
• How Long Can a Virus Live on Surfaces?
• Cleaning Vs. Disinfecting
• Cleaning Products for Disinfecting Harmful Viruses
• Some Useful Tips Regarding DIY Cleaners
• How Often Should Antiviral Cleaning Be Done?
• How to Disinfect Different Types of Surfaces?
• Professional Antiviral Cleaning
• Other Tips to Keep Your House Clean and Keeping the Virus at Bay
• Some Ideas for People Living in Shared Spaces or Flats
How Long Can Viruses and Germs Live on Surfaces?
We know now that viruses and other germs can live on surfaces for a long time. However, the amount of time it can survive on different surfaces is different. For example, surfaces like plastic can hold up the virus for a longer time compared to paper or other things. The maximum time that the COVID-19 virus can live on a surface is nine days which is on surfaces such as plastic or stainless steel, with the shortest lifespan of the virus being on paper or cardboard.
A recent study investigated the length of time the virus can live on different surfaces. Viruses can survive on different surfaces for different lengths of time and although the number of viruses does not multiply, (they reduce over time) it is still worrying that they can live on a surface for so long. Harmful viruses can live for days on some surfaces if not treated properly, making it very important to bear these things in mind and clean and disinfect the things in the house properly.
These precautions for cleaning and disinfecting are even more important when you have an infected person in the house or when someone comes in from outside. Food and groceries are brought in and parcels and letter deliveries go through various hands before reaching our homes. We know that harmful viruses can live on various surfaces for prolonged amounts of time, making the risk of them surviving on surfaces coming to our homes quite possible. This list will also help us in planning our cleaning and antiviral spree.
To put thins into perspective, the current COVID-19 virus can survive for:
• 3 hours in the air.
• 24 hours on cardboard.
• 4 hours on copper.
• 72 hours or even more on plastic (it can go up to 9 days!).
• 48 hours on steel.
Cleaning Vs. Disinfecting
First of all, we need to understand that cleaning and disinfecting are two different things. You can clean the house many times over and still find germs and viruses on the surfaces which you are unable to see.
Simply put, cleaning involves removing dirt and dust from the surfaces, which also reduces the risk of spread of infection as the pathogens in the dust and particles would be wiped away. On the other hand, disinfection involves the use of chemicals to kill germs, which would kill the bacteria and viruses, and the risk of spread of illnesses is much lower.
Cleaning means wiping and dusting surfaces, vacuuming carpets and mopping floors. Disinfecting, however, means targeting those surfaces which have a higher chance of being infected and carrying the virus, such as door handles, switches, remote controls, toilet, desk and chairs, taps and telephones etc.
Cleaning Products for Disinfecting Harmful Viruses
Some good news is harmful viruses can be killed by any common household cleaner and even with soap and water. To help you, we have compiled for you a list of cleaners that are effective in killing the harmful viruses and germs. For proper use and for long life of your surfaces, read the label on the back of the product packaging to see manufacturer’s guide on how to use the product.
Ventilate the House
Let’s start with the easiest and efficient technique first. Ventilating and airing the house is perhaps something that everyone does or can easily do without costing anything. Now that the weather is also nice, it is easier to do so you will not feel cold. Airing the house regularly is a good habit which takes away all the bad smell and dampness from the house, as well as being good for killing the viruses and germs inside the house. When you let fresh air from outside in the house through open doors and windows, the stale air in the house gets circulated which might have been carrying illnesses and viruses, thus reducing the risk of you catching them and becoming unwell.
This is even more important if you have an ill person in the house. We all produce hundreds of droplets in the air every time we cough and sneeze. Now imagine an ill person doing that! Every time they sneeze or cough, they will be spreading virus droplets in the air, which as we have discussed above, can stay in the air for a long time. So, there is a good chance they might be caught by someone else in the house. Airing the house regularly for a few hours every day will reduce this risk.
Use of Soap and Water
Soap and water are your best defence against virus infection and is probably the most convenient antiviral too, due to easy availability. Soap and water give you the peace of mind because as you wash something with soap and water you can be sure that you have removed or killed all the germs on the surface.
It goes the same for our bodies and clothes too. When we wash ourselves and our clothes with soap and water, we remove all harmful germs on us and reduce the risk of infection. You can be confident that the germs are now at bay because of the way these two works. The soap works on the fat on the shell of the virus, making it come off the surface it has attached to and then the water rinses it off.
Any ordinary household bleach works as an efficient antiviral cleaning agent. The main ingredient in bleach is sodium hypochlorite which is known for killing viruses. The way the bleach works is quite efficient because it kills the protein and RNA on the virus body, which is the part which produces more virus particles.
So, if the protein and RNA are deactivated or destroyed, there will not be more production of the virus and the main particles that were initially present on the surface will be killed too. If you use bleach properly, it will surely reduce the risk of infection through the virus. However, before using bleach take all necessary precautions, read the instructions on the label at the back of the bottle, keep out of the reach of children and do not use a large quantity or for too long. Exposure to bleach for too long or using a larger quantity may cause discolouring in some products.
Surface wipes or antibacterial cleaning wipes are also good for treating viruses and is probably one of your best bets for treating viruses. The surface wipes work by directly removing germs from the surfaces as they get attached to the wipes. The main content in most surface wipes is the antiseptic which works for killing the viruses and bacteria both. Any antibacterial surface wipes can be used for treating the viruses or you can read the label before purchasing one. One of the best antiviral surface wipes is the Dettol Surface Cleaner which also specifically mentions; good for treating harmful viruses.
Disinfectant sprays also work quite well for treating viruses and bacteria on the surfaces. They are easy to use and are also easily available in any supermarket. A good disinfectant spray must have at least 70% alcohol, as the alcohol is the part that tackles the viruses. The ordinary commercial disinfectant sprays are not very expensive either and the best thing is most of them smell nice too. So, if you decide to use a disinfectant spray rather than bleach you would not need anything else as your house will smell nice with just the disinfectant.
Homemade Cleaning Products
If you don’t have a commercial disinfectant at home, you can even make your own with simple things that are easily available in every household. We have gathered for you some simple and amazing DIY disinfectant cleaners and antiviral cleaning agents.
Disinfectant Spray 1:
This disinfectant spray serves as a multi-purpose cleaner that can be used on any surface from marble worktops or granite to vinyl and tiles. It can also serve as an amazing glass cleaner. You will need:
• 1 and ¼ cup of water
• ¼ cup of white vinegar
• ¼ cup of alcohol
• A few drops of peppermint or Lemon Essential Oil, up to 15
Add these ingredients in a spray bottle and use it on your surfaces. The peppermint or essential oil will reduce the smell of the vinegar and the surfaces will smell nicer.
Disinfectant Spray 2:
This disinfectant is perfect for deep cleaning as one of the main ingredient is Borax which can be easily found at hardware or grocery stores. Borax is also known as Sodium Borate. Borax is not suitable for food consumption such as a food additive, however, it is safe to use as a cleaning ingredient. This DIY disinfecting spray also works as a very effective toilet cleaner. As we all know that viruses and bacteria are found more on surfaces such as toilets, this effective antiviral spray can be used there to disinfect the toilet and reduce the risk of infection. You will need:
• ¾ cup of Borax
• 1 cup white vinegar
• 10 drops of Lavender Essential Oil
• 5 Drops of Lemon Essential Oil
Take a squirting bottle and pour all ingredients into it and shake well. Squirt the disinfectant on the surface and leave it for about 10 minutes and let the ingredients work. After 10 minutes, wipe it off with a cleaning cloth. If you are using it inside the toilet cleaner, the cleaning time might be longer. Leave it for a few hours before cleaning it off using a toilet brush. Flush off to rinse the inside of the toilet.
Disinfectant Spray 3:
It is very important to keep our kitchens clean all the time but it has become even more important now than ever. Since we make and eat our food in the kitchen and also deposit all the groceries that come in from outside in the kitchen, it becomes messy and has a higher chance of carrying virus and germs on the surfaces. Therefore, it is important to keep the kitchen worktops and countertops clean and free of germs and viruses if we want to be healthy and avoid becoming unwell. This simple DIY spray works well for the kitchen worktops. It is easy to make and requires only two ingredients:
• Hydrogen Peroxide
Add both ingredients in equal proportion and add the contents into a spray bottle. Use it over kitchen worktops or even in bathroom countertops. This can also be used for any hard surfaces. After spraying, wipe off with a sponge.
Disinfectant Spray 4:
This disinfectant spray is highly effective for killing germs and bacteria on surfaces such as yoga mats, exercising equipment or other similar surfaces that attract a lot of bacteria. It is a natural antifungal and antibacterial and uses the powers of essential oils such as tea tree oil to stop spreading bacteria and germs. You will need:
• ¾ cup of water
• ½ cup of Witch Hazel
• 10 drops of Tea Tree Essential Oil
• 5 drops of Eucalyptus Essential Oil
Pour ingredients in a spray bottle and shake well to combine all contents properly. Spray on the surfaces that need to be cleaned and wipe off with a clean and dry cloth. Shake the bottle well before every use as the oil separates from the other ingredients.
Disinfectant Spray 5:
Another easy to make homemade cleaner is with surgical spirit, that is used by hospitals. This is made up to alcohol ethanol which is very effective for killing viruses, including Coronavirus. The way surgical spirit works is also very fast, it takes about 30 seconds to kill those unwanted germs from the surfaces.
Surgical spirit works in the same way as the bleach (however reaction time is much lower), the alcohol destroys the protein and RNA in the virus body. You can spray a little amount of spirit on a clean cloth and wipe it on the surface. The spirit evaporates on its own so you don’t need to wipe it off afterwards.
Homemade Disinfectant Wipes:
Although it’s good to have disinfectant wipes such as Dettol Wipes at home for convenience, they are not good for the environment. Therefore, we can make our own affordable and re-useable wipes at home with some simple ingredients. You will need:
• 1 cup of filtered water
• 1 cup of white distilled vinegar
• ½ cup of alcohol
• 15 drops Lemon Essential Oil
• 8 drops Lavender Essential Oil
• 4 drops Bergamot Essential Oil
• 1 Mason Jar
• 15-20 pieces of equally cut small washcloths
Add all ingredients in the Mason jar. You can also use any other wide-mouth container fit for this purpose. Put the lid back and shake to combine the contents. Now add the washcloth pieces in the jar until all the fabric pieces are soaked in the disinfecting liquid. Store in a dark place, such as a kitchen or bathroom cabinet. Make sure to secure the lid properly after every use so that the cloths don’t go dry.
These wipes can serve as multi-surface cleaners and can be used on glass, tiles, porcelain, stainless steel or a linoleum surface. For using the disinfecting wipes, take one piece of cloth out and wring off the excess liquid. Do not put the used cloth back in the jar without washing.
This simple floor cleaner is easy to make with only a few ingredients and will work well for any type of floor. You can use it on hardwood, laminate flooring, vinyl, linoleum and also tile flooring. You can also use it on marble and granite although more caution is required. All you need is:
• 2 cups of warm water
• ½ cup of white vinegar
• ¼ cup of rubbing alcohol
• 3 drops of dishwashing soap
• 5-10 drops of your favourite essential oil, such as Tea Tree Oil.
Add all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Once they are properly mixed, pour the contents in a plastic spray bottle. Every time before use, shake the bottle well and spray it on the floor, on the area that requires cleaning or all over. Wipe it off with a mop. Caution: do not use any oil-based soap along with this homemade cleaner.
Some Useful Tips Regarding DIY Cleaners
These natural DIY cleaning tips and recipes are great antiviral and antibacterial for disinfecting your house and are also environment friendly. These natural recipes will make your house cleaner and germ-free, and also chemical-free. They are affordable and kinder to the environment and pocket. So, with these tips and recipes, you will not only be cleaning and disinfecting the house with a lower budget but you will also be making your contribution to the environment. However, you need some precautions for some of the ingredients used in DIY cleaners.
For granite worktops or any other granite surface, be careful of what sort of disinfecting sprays are being used. Although these DIY cleaners have proven to be effective, some of the homemade cleaners can cause damage to surfaces if all necessary precautions are not taken into account. Too much use of acidity can leave an impression on the marble and granite surfaces.
Ingredients such as vinegar, bleach, ammonia and lemon juice should be avoided. When these cleaners are used, be sure they are made in the right proportions and avoid relying on just those methods. You can alternate between commercial cleaners, that are known to be safe for home cleaning and the DIY cleaners.
The simplest and highly effective homemade cleaner is soap and water. Start by removing items from surfaces such as worktops or tables, then wipe it to wipe off any dirt or crumbs left on them. After that, use a microfiber cloth to clean the surfaces by first dipping it into warm soapy water.
As we discussed above, soap and water are the safest and one of the most highly effective defences against viruses. Wring out excess water from the cloth and wipe down the countertops with it. You can dry the countertops using another clean and dry cloth.
It depends on the situation and the need. Regular disinfecting and cleaning of the house is important but it is even more important to do so now than ever. Therefore, frequently disinfecting and cleaning your house to remove germs and viruses is a good habit and can only do good rather than harm.
While disinfecting, we must bear in mind that disinfecting does not necessarily mean cleaning and vice versa. So, for example, if you have disinfected a surface with any disinfectant cleaning agent you would still need to clean the surface afterwards with a clean cloth. Because, as we discussed earlier on in the article that when we disinfect, we kill the germs but they still stay on the surface. So although they would cause no harm it is always a good idea to remove them altogether afterwards for a cleaner and healthier environment.
Now the question arises, how often should we be doing this? A general guideline is the high-touch surfaces must be disinfected and cleaned more frequently, for example, every time someone comes in from outside.
Some common high-touch surfaces are:
• Door Handles
• Back of chairs
• Light switches
• Stairs bannisters
• Toilets etc.
If anyone in your house has come down with something, from a cold to COVID-19, this should be done more often, such as every time the person touches the surface. Although, it would be considerate if the person could use gloves or keep themselves isolated, in certain circumstances is unavoidable, for example, if there is only one toilet in the house. So for this to happen, all household members would need to educate themselves on the importance of hygiene, disinfection and cleaning so everyone would have a clear knowledge and understanding of what is expected of them.
For guidance, we can take the help of government guidelines or pamphlets, and please feel free to share this article with family and friends! 🙂
How to Disinfect Different Types of Surfaces
We can use different techniques for disinfecting different types of services around the house, for example, hard surfaces, soft surfaces, electronics, fabric and clothing.
These can be doors and door handles, tables, floors etc. To keep safe, you should consider wearing disposable gloves before you start your antiviral cleaning. The gloves should be disposed of properly immediately after use. If there is any visible contamination on the surface it should be cleaned and wiped off first before disinfection. If you are using bleach for disinfection, make sure to take necessary precautions such as ventilating the room properly and using a small amount mixed in water so that it doesn’t harm the surface. You can also use any of the other disinfection sprays mentioned above or any commercial cleaner.
These can be carpets, rugs, curtains, drapes, bedding and sofas etc. As before, remove any visible contamination first and then start with cleaning and disinfecting. If possible, consider washing certain items that can be easily washed such as small rugs or curtains. You don’t need any special washing powder as you can use your standard washing detergent and put on the load in your washing machine. A good tip here is that you can add a small amount of disinfecting Dettol in the washing cycle. For carpets and sofas or other soft surfaces that can not be washed, you can hoover regularly (more often than you would normally do) and you can even use a carpet cleaning disinfectant. For leather sofas, you can use a damp cloth with a small amount of washing up liquid or handwash.
For electronics such as mobile phones, tablets, laptops, desktop computers and all parts of it, television or even switches we can use the surface wipes. They must have at least 70% of alcohol content to serve the purpose. Make sure to dry the surfaces with a clean dry cloth afterwards.
Fabric and Clothing
For fabric and clothing, consider using disposable gloves if you are handling the laundry of an ill person or if you are washing clothes for someone caring for those persons. If possible, wash the clothes straight away or put them in a separate bag or laundry bin. Do not shake off the unwashed clothes as you might loosen the viruses and release it into the air where they can stay up to 3 hours. You do not need to wash the clothes separately from other clothes as the washing detergent and water would kill the viruses.
Although most businesses have either closed down or employees are working from home, some professional cleaning services are still operating as normal. Since the cleaning involves the protection of public health, their services are still open to the people. So if you are thinking of hiring professional services to disinfect your home and be at a peace of mind that all the germs, bacteria and viruses lurking in the corners which you might have missed have been taken care of, the professional cleaners would be happy to help you out at your one call.
The professional cleaners will be taking all necessary precautions according to the government guidelines and their policies to protect not just their staff, but also the clients. You can arrange different types of antiviral cleaning services according to your needs and requirement.
For example, you can book a deep cleaning service or if your need is urgent you can choose a decontamination and sterilisation service which is also partly a deep cleaning service, but more of an urgent one. For this reason, you may get the booking for the same day right away.
Professional cleaners have more experience on what sort of service or antiviral cleaning works best as they deal with it every day. The professional cleaners also provide services to the health sector, hospitals, pharmaceuticals, military, medical and healthcare departments therefore they are better able to guide the customers on what sort of antiviral treatment would be best in a particular situation since many household customers may not have had this experience before. They will provide you with a healthier environment where you can relax and be satisfied that for the time being, your home or place of work is germ-free.
Other Tips to Keep Your House Clean and Keeping the Virus at Bay
Here are a few tips on how to keep your house clean and healthy and to reduce the risk of spreading the virus everywhere in the house and on all the surfaces.
• Leave Items at the Door: When you or a member of the house come in from outside and they have any items in their hands, make sure they leave them at the door and do not bring them in. these can be any item bought from the shops or items of personal use. For example, shopping bags, medicines, car keys and shoes etc. these items get exposure outside and may have touched other surfaces while the person carrying them was out of the house too, so these must not land on surfaces such as the coffee table or kitchen worktops. The items must be left by the door and cleaned by a disinfected before they are brought inside the house. It might not be feasible to clean all items though, such as the shoes, so these items should be picked up and go straight into where they belong and should not be touched by any other person like a child. Make sure to wash your hands immediately afterwards.
• Clothing: If you or a member of the house have gone out, they must change clothes as soon as they come home. this includes people of emergency services or any frontline key workers, their children or even if you are not a keyworker but you do get exposure and have to step outside to work. The clothes should then be washed, if you can not wash them straight away, they must at least go into the laundry bin and not lie around in the house. The bin must be disinfected from the inside too with any disinfecting spray or cleaner. You may wish to line the laundry basket with a bin bag too, containing any germs. The clothes can be washed using your ordinary washing detergent and water. If even that is not possible at times, many believe that hanging the clothes outside in sunlight helps with killing any harmful viruses. Many new washing machines now have the option of sanitising cycle. Once in a while, you can run a sanitising cycle in your washing machine to kill any remaining viruses or bacteria left in the machine, it uses hotter temperature of water than your usual washing cycle.
• Hand Sanitiser: It’s always a good idea to keep a hand sanitiser on you at all times when you step out of the house. The alcohol in the sanitiser will kill the virus on your hands. You can also keep one bottle of hand sanitiser by the door inside the house so that anyone coming in from outside can use it straight away before they touch any more surfaces. Washing hands with soap and water is a strong defence against any germs and viruses and must be done when they come inside. This practice will minimise the risk of spreading the virus in the house as most of the time it’s our hands that might carry anyviruses or illnesses because they touch the most surfaces.
• Wipe Down Other Items: It is also a good idea to consider that whenever someone comes in from outside, they must clean and wipe their belongings or the things they had taken with them such as the car keys or mobile phone. Any antibacterial wipe can be used for this purpose. The wipes must be disposed of properly immediately and should not lie around after use.
It is easier to practice good hygiene and clean your house the way you want if you have your individual space. However, if you live in a shared space such as a multi-occupancy house or a hostel or even a block of flats, your hygiene practices may get compromised due to close presence of other individuals who might not have the same ideas of cleaning or may have a different standard with regards to disinfecting or cleaning. Some of the tips for such situations are:
• Ask your building manager or warden as to what steps they have taken to ensure communal areas and high-traffic areas such as building entrance and passages or corridors to keep them as clean as possible.
• If possible, avoid using communal areas as much as you can such as the laundry room or elevators. Take special care while using them at busy times and if possible, use it when there are fewer people around. Use a paper towel or wear gloves for opening doors or elevator buttons.
• It is ok to keep using air conditioning or central heating in a shared space. There is a conflict of perspective regarding this, however, there is no clear evidence to show that virus can transmit through the heating or air conditioning. The virus usually spread through droplets coming from cough or sneezes, yet there is no harm in practising good hygiene and you can always wipe down vents with the same cleaning techniques we discussed above in this article.
Disclaimer: As coronavirus is novel and the medical and health experts are still learning about its properties, spread and treatment as we are. The information provided in this article is correct as of the time it is updated. However, as more information comes in, there might be changes on how to keep the virus as bay and how to do an antiviral cleaning based on the new information.