Nearly 4 in 10 Americans have used disinfectants and household cleaners for "high-risk practices" like washing produce. Here, the dirty details about how Americans are really cleaning up amidst the coronavirus—and what you *should* be doing instead.

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Three months ago, as COVID-19 just began to sweep across the states, we reassured you that yes, it's still safe to eat fresh produce. And no, you don't need to go bananas washing them with any special potions to prevent any potential transmission of the coronavirus. (That spreads via respiratory droplets person-to-person, not through food, based on all current knowledge from the CDC, WHO and existing scientific research.)

But apparently not everyone is convinced. Last Friday, the CDC published a survey of 502 American adults—and a whopping 39 percent of the people engaged in "high-risk practices" to try to protect themselves from the coronavirus as of the beginning of May. These include washing foods like fruits and veggies with bleach (19%), applying household cleaning or disinfecting products directly to skin or hands (18%) and intentionally inhaling (6%) or ingesting these products (4%).

washing produce
Credit: Getty / Westend61

In happier news, 82% of respondents said they felt very or somewhat confident that they knew how to disinfect their home safely. (In case you need a refresher, we've got you covered.)

Just to clean up any confusion, please don't do any of the above. Don't drink bleach or wash your foods with it—the harsh solution is very poisonous. Our complete guide to washing produce will walk you through how to do so safely; often water is all you need. Use rubber or non-porous gloves when using household sanitizers and disinfectants, and limit all contact between your bare skin and these products. That means definitely don't wash your hands with any of these household cleaners. (Soap works great!)

Until a vaccine is developed, approved and manufactured, here are the best ways to protect yourself from the coronavirus, according to the CDC:

  • Wash your hands early and often.

  • Disinfect high-touch surfaces (that are not alive) daily. This includes things like TV remotes, your cell phone and surfaces.

  • Avoid large crowds, wear a cloth face covering and stay at least six feet away from others when in public.

  • Stay home if you're experiencing any symptoms (such as a fever, cough or difficulty breathing).