Scientists have now confirmed that the coronavirus can live on surfaces for up to 36 hours, depending on the material -- meaning public common areas are now more dangerous than ever.
But as many of us spend more and more time in the house, it's not just public spaces that pose a risk anymore.
If you or one of your family members is one of the many asymptomatic victims of the outbreak, it could put your entire household in danger, all in a matter of days. The risk is even higher if you have older or immunocompromised loved ones in your home.
Want to minimize the chance of coronavirus spreading in your home or, worst-case scenario, between your family members? Take these cleaning precautions:
1. Clean your most-used high-touch surfaces regularly
This includes places like your doorknobs, the kitchen table, light switches, toilets, sinks, faucet handles, and even your TV remotes and cell phones. Pay close attention to places like the living room and kitchen, where your family likely congregates often. If you're cooking daily, wipe down the stove and refrigerator handles, too.
2. Use the right cleaners
Not all cleaning agents are effective in killing the virus. The Centers for Disease Control recommends using a diluted household bleach solution or an alcohol cleaning solution with at least 70% alcohol. Hydrogen peroxide is also effective, but it needs to sit on the surface for at least a minute to kill the virus.
Here's a full list of cleaners you can use to kill the coronavirus:
- Bleach solutions (5 tablespoons of bleach per gallon of water).
- Alcohol-based cleaners with at least 70% alcohol.
- Hydrogen peroxide.
- Household disinfectants like Clorox (NYSE: CLX) and Lysol (OTCMKTS: RBGLY).
- This full list of cleaning products here.
What won't work on coronavirus? Vodka, homemade hand sanitizer, or vinegar. (That last one won't smell great either).
3. Wear gloves when cleaning
In the event a surface has been contaminated with the coronavirus, you want to make sure you're protected. Wear disposable latex gloves, and replace them each time you start a new round of cleaning. Be careful not to touch any additional surfaces, linens, or household members while cleaning, either -- the virus could be transferred to the gloves from a contaminated surface.
4. Change out your linens often
Don't use and reuse towels during this time (even hand ones), as the virus can easily live in the fibers. Your best bet is to use towels only once after a bath or shower and use paper towels when drying your hands. Another option is to dedicate a hand towel for each individual family member just to be safe.
5. Wash laundry in warm water
Cold water isn't going to do anything to kill germs, so make sure to run your laundry on warm (or hot even) for the time being. If you're collecting laundry in a linen bag, you should also throw that in with your loads as well. If you suspect someone in your house might be infected, put their laundry in a separate trash bag and only handle it while wearing gloves.
The bottom line
Even if you or a household member isn't sick or showing symptoms, exercising caution right now is critical. Take proactive steps to keep your household clean and sanitized, and that could be what keeps your loved ones safe, healthy, and virus-free in the long run.
And remember, if you're struggling financially due to the COVID-19 outbreak. You have options. Here's what to do if you can't pay your mortgage or your rent.