There's never been a better time to be diligent with your spring cleaning.

Karla Walsh
April 27, 2020
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Each week, we're learning more about COVID-19 symptoms (including that a shocking amount of people who contract the disease might actually have no noticeable symptoms), its impact on the human body and how it spreads (a new study in The New England Journal of Medicine proposes that it's often passed along by people before they know they're sick).

One thing we're pretty certain about is that the novel coronavirus is spread through respiratory droplets when someone who has the virus sneezes or coughs and releases viral pathogens into the air (which is why opening your windows may be helpful). The virus can live on surfaces such as stainless steel and plastic for up to 3 days and on cardboard for up to 24 hours, according to another New England Journal of Medicine study, but it's TBD whether it can live outside of the body in amounts large enough to infect another person.

Still, it's prudent to take spring cleaning seriously this year and disinfect your home often. Not only will it possibly prevent the spread of this virus, it will also help keep your family protected from foodborne illnesses and other bacteria. Plus, since we're all home more often, it's just nice to keep things clean.

At the same time, we know that (unlike the Jetsons) you don't have Rosie the robot maid at the ready to do all the deep cleaning for you. So we turned to the CDC for their expert guidance. While they don't have specific timing recommendations for everything in your home, they do have tips and tricks about high-touch surfaces and cooking materials.

Here's the dirty truth about how often you should likely be disinfecting your home during the pandemic:

  • Clean often (psst...there's a difference between cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting), then disinfect high-touch surfaces—such as kitchen and bathroom counters, fridge handles, remote controls and your cell phonedaily

  • Disinfect other, less-used household surfaces every other day

  • Clean countertops and cutting boards after each use

  • Disinfect every time a visitor enters your home (if you have anyone coming in)

  • If anyone in your home is sick, disinfect every surface after they touch it

And don't forget to disinfect other frequently used items such as:

  • Purses and wallets, including the cards you used inside

  • Appliances, including handles and buttons

  • Light switches

  • Railings

  • Door knobs

  • Office surfaces, including keyboards and desks

As a refresher, here's how to make your own sanitizing solution at home and these are the EPA-approved disinfectants that have been proven to actually work to kill the coronavirus. Remember to wash your hands before and after you disinfect your home.

The situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to change quickly; it's possible that information or data has changed since publication. While EatingWell is trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations by using the CDC, WHO, and their local public health department as resources.