Since the appearance of Coronavirus (COVID-19), we’re all more aware of the importance of hygiene and preventing the spread of germs and bacteria. Hand washing and covering our mouths and noses when we cough or sneeze are key practices.
But what else can you do to protect yourself and your family from viruses and bacteria? A healthy, functioning immune system identifies and neutralises any invading pathogens, such as viruses. We are seeing that a large amount of people who catch Covid-19 are fighting it off with just a cough and a fever, and then recovering.
This is why it’s so important to look after our immune systems. By feeding ourselves healthy, vitamin-filled fresh fruits and vegetables, and cutting down or eliminating unhealthy, sugary, processed foods, you can prevent your immune system from being compromised. If your body is taking in enough of the good stuff, you could be a virus-slaying machine!
Another great thing you can do to help stop the spread of germs and bacteria, especially since we are now spending a lot more time at home, is to deep clean your household. Many people swear by doing a regular deep clean perhaps once every month or two, and now is as good a time as any. You’ll get some exercise whilst you clean and you’ll enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that those frequently touched areas of your home are safe.
Which cleaning products should we use to fight viruses & bacteria?
Good old soap and water are actually two of the most effective options for cleaning the surfaces in your home, as well as your hands.
Covid-19 is made up of proteins and fats. Detergents like soap and even washing-up liquid work by dissolving the fats of the virus, which inactivates it and stops it from binding to our cells.
The alcohol in hand sanitiser works in a similar way, as long as it is at least 60% alcohol.
How can we kill Covid-19 on surfaces?
Although the research on the current coronavirus is under way, studies on similar coronaviruses like SARS and MERS have shown that they can stay on surfaces like metal, glass or plastic for days.
The good news is they can be killed within one minute if cleaned and disinfected. This means we should first clean all hard surfaces with warm, soapy water and then disinfect them.
What disinfectants should we use?
The following disinfectants could be effective:
- Diluted household bleach solutions (hydrogen peroxide or sodium hypochlorite)
- Alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol
- Some anti-viral household disinfectants
If you are buying disinfectant, check the product information to make sure it says that it combats viruses including influenza and human coronaviruses – a good example is Dettol surface cleaner.
Should we find specialist antibacterial products?
As mentioned above, soapy water and bleach or alcohol-based cleaners will kill a virus like Covid-19. Many products marketed as antibacterial won’t work against a virus. They need to contain at least 70% alcohol to have any impact. So don’t worry about hunting down these types of cleaners.
Which items should we clean?
Focus on the frequently touched areas of your home that could enable pathogens to spread:
- Door handles
- Light switches
- Appliance handles and dials – e.g. kettle handle, fridge door, oven and microwave dials
- TV remotes
- Shared computer equipment such as a keyboard or mouse
- Toilet and tap handles
- Food prep areas
- Bathroom surfaces
- Cleaning items that can spread germs, such as sponges and cleaning cloths
What about post and groceries?
Postal workers and couriers have been briefed on minimising contact during deliveries and are taking precautions with handling packages, but to be on the safe side, you should dispose of packaging and wash your hands afterwards.
A recent laboratory study showed the virus could be detected in an infectious form for up 24hrs on cardboard, and 2-3 days on plastics, although the Food Standards Authority says it is very unlikely that people could catch Covid-19 from food, and it is not known to be transmitted by exposure to food or food packaging.
Our advice is to take care and wash your hands before preparing food, and rinse fruit and veg before eating it.
What about clothes?
To kill germs you need to use a bleach or other disinfectant-based laundry detergent. Liquid detergents don’t contain bleach, so for now you’ll need to choose a laundry powder that contains a bleaching agent.
Biological powders generally have more bleaching agents than non-biological powders.
Wash reusable cloths and tea towels at 60 degrees or more between uses, and change them frequently.
You can also put washing-up sponges on a hot cycle in the dishwasher.
Relax knowing you’ve done a deep clean
If you’ve followed all the tips above, you’ll know you’ve done everything you can to kill germs and viruses in your home – plus it will be sparkly clean! Remember to boost your immune system whenever you can with fresh, cleaned fruit and vegetables – that way you’ll be primed to fight off all viruses and bacteria.
For tips on how you can manage your energy bills during the current COVID-19 pandemic, take a look at our How to avoid high energy bills whilst social distancing article.