Written by Stacey Kelleher.
With the rapid spread of COVID-19, it’s never been more important to keep a germ-free home. That’s why we created a clear, easy-to-follow guide on how to clean the spots on your home that collect the most household germs.
Here’s our clear, easy-to-follow guide for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.
Common Household Bacteria, Viruses, and Germs
Even the cleanest home harbors invisible microbes that can potentially cause mild and serious illnesses – from stomach bugs to COVID-19. In fact, one analysis of 30 different “high-touch” spots in the average home found 340 different types of germs including:
- Campylobacter - foodborne illness that causes nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting
- Clostridium difficile(C. diff) - bacteria causing diarrhea and colitis
- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) - an infection caused by a certain strep bacteria
- Escherichia coli (E.coli) - certain strains of this bacteria can cause serious abdominal illness
- Salmonella - bacteria that can cause fever, diarrhea, and stomach cramps
- Staphylococcus aureus (Staph) - a germ most people carry. In some cases, it can lead to sepsis, pneumonia, and other serious illnesses.
- Streptococcus (Strep) - bacteria causing a host of illnesses from strep throat to scarlet fever, and pneumonia
By focusing on the most germ-ridden areas of your home, you can eliminate bacteria, mold, and fungi, and reduce your family’s chances of getting sick.
First Thing’s First: Keep New Pathogens out of Your Home
When you leave home to go about your daily activities, you may be bringing some uninvited guests back home on your:
- Laptop case
- Take-out meals
Take Extra Precautions at Your Door
With the spread of COVID-19, it’s smart to take extra precautions so you don’t potentially bring the virus into your home.
- Disinfect your belongings (as mentioned above).
- Take your shoes off outside, spray them with a disinfectant, and store them in an entryway or mudroom to avoid tracking dangerous microbes throughout your home.
- If you work in a hospital, pharmacy, or supermarket, immediately throw your clothes into the washing machine upon arriving home.
- Consider taking a shower immediately (or require mandatory bathtime for the kids).
- Keep hand sanitizer at the main entry point of your home
How Long Can Coronavirus Live on Surfaces?
According to Harvard University, COVID-19 can live on cardboard for up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to 2-3 days on stainless steel and plastic. After cleaning surfaces with a surface spray or soap and water, it’s recommended to disinfect hard surfaces with EPA-approved products for COVID-19 and other “emerging enveloped viral pathogens.”
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Currently, there’s not a lot of information currently available about how long COVID-19 lives on fabric, but one expert suspects it’s probably anywhere from a few hours to a day. The CDC recommends washing clothing (and other soft surfaces) in the warmest water possible and allowing them to dry completely.
Note: While these products are recommended by the EPA, at the time of publication, there were no products on the market that were clinically proven to kill the virus. That includes hand soaps, cleaners, hand sanitizers, and disinfectants. Studies hadn’t been carried out simply because the virus was too new. All of the recommended information was theory-based from studying these products against similar types of viruses.
It’s never been more important to understand the difference between cleaning and disinfecting – and how to tackle certain hotspots.
What Does Cleaning Involve?
Cleaning removes dirt and impurities from all of the soft and hard surfaces in your home. While cleaning doesn’t necessarily kill every germ, it definitely helps to limit their numbers while reducing the chances of them spreading.
We always recommend using Puracy Plant-Based Soap and our Multi-Surface Spray to break down dirt, grease, and gunk from all of your non-porous surfaces. Disinfectants can only be effectively used to kill germs when messes are first removed.
When to Disinfect Surfaces
Disinfecting does not remove dirt and build-up on surfaces but instead kills the germs and bacteria living on them. Cleaning before disinfecting substantially reduces bacteria and help to prevent the spread of illness.
To disinfect, you need to use products that are tested and approved to kill germs. What’s more, you need to use them exactly as directed. In many cases, this means allowing them to stay wet on a respective surface for minutes.
Special Mention: Your Cell Phone Is Crawling in BacteriaOur cell phones have essentially become an extension of our hands – and they carry all the germs to match. In fact, researchers at The University of Arizona, found cell phones to be 10x dirtier than the average toilet seat.
Your cell phone might be carrying:
- E. coli
How to Clean Your Cell Phone
Try this DIY phone sanitizer to clean your cell phone and remove microbes:
- Make a solution of equal parts isopropyl alcohol and distilled water.
- Dab or spray the solution onto an edgeless microfiber towel until it’s slightly damp.
- Wipe the towel across all of the surfaces of your phone without saturating it.
- Using a dry microfiber towel, wipe down your phone again, soaking up any beads of moisture that remain.
The Germiest Places in Your Kitchen
Kitchens can be microbial incubators, and the ideal environment for countless yucky germs and bacteria to thrive.
When it comes to invisible microbes in the kitchen, sponges are the worst offenders. Just how dirty are kitchen sponges – and why are they “microbiological hot spots?”
Because sponges retain water (and don’t usually dry out completely between uses), they make a great home for moisture-loving bacteria. And when we use them to wash food, dishes, and countertops, we spread those germs from one surface to another via cross-contamination.
Researchers found 362 different types of bacteria in household sponges including:
- Enterobacter cloacae
Tips for Keeping Kitchen Sponges Clean
To keep your sponge clean and prevent spreading bacteria around your kitchen, allow your sponge to dry out between uses, and replace it often. Avoid wiping it across food surfaces and countertops, choosing washable microfiber towels for those jobs instead. Most experts recommend replacing your kitchen sponges every 1-2 weeks, but we prefer an OXO Dish Brush: It’s non-porous, gentle, drains completely, and doesn’t harbor germs.
A study by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) found that kitchen sinks are the second dirtiest spots in the home. Shockingly, nearly half of those evaluated had coliform.
To clean your kitchen sink and prevent the spread of germs, spray down your kitchen sink with hot water every day. Once a week, use an OXO dish brush with a healthy amount of Puracy Natural Dish Soap to scrub every square inch (including the drain area). Rinse with hot water.
To keep cutting boards clean and prevent cross-contamination:
- Color-code boards to designate which are used for meat, poultry, fish, and all other kinds of foods.
- Clean and sanitize cutting boards after each use and replace them relatively often (grooves caused by knives can harbor moisture and bacteria).
- To disinfect a wood cutting board, spray with a solution of 1 tablespoon liquid chlorine bleach to 1 gallon of water. Allow to dry and rinse with water to remove bleach residue.
- Dishwasher-safe plastic cutting boards can be cleaned with the same bleach solution or run through a hot/sanitize dishwasher cycle.
Coffee reservoirs are another good hiding spot for mold and coliform. Not only will these change the taste of your morning brew but also coliform can cause stomach bugs and mold can trigger headaches and sinus issues.
To prevent bacteria buildup and keep your java tasting fresh, deep clean your coffee maker at least once a month. Use a vinegar-water solution for the main unit and natural dish soap to scrub the carafe (and other detachable parts).
The Germiest Places in Your Bathroom
Higher temperatures and humidity make the bathroom the perfect place for germs to thrive. Here are some of the dirtiest spots in the bathroom and tips for keeping them clean:
Everything your hands come into contact with is transferred to the handles of your faucet, cupboards, doorknobs, and light switches (and vice versa). These should be disinfected every week to remove viruses, yeast, coliform, and mold. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we recommend that you do this every day.
Between disinfecting treatments, use Puracy plant-based surface spray to remove everyday dirt and grime. When it’s time to sanitize faucet handles and other hardware, spray them with a DIY disinfecting solution of 1 TBSP of bleach to 1 quart of water. Let it sit for at least a minute before wiping away.
To disinfect your toothbrush holder, immerse it in equal parts water and white vinegar for 1-2 minutes. Using an old toothbrush or pipe cleaner, scrub off dirt and debris. Rinse under hot water and allow it to dry.
If your toothbrush holder is dishwasher-safe, you can also run it through a cycle (along with your toothbrushes) once a week.
Ever squeezed out a child’s bath toy to discover that it’s full of gunk? That’s mold and bacteria. As plastic bath toys sit in water, they release carbon that promotes the growth of microbes and biofilm. Bath toys also collect microorganisms from the human body.
Because young children tend to put things in their mouths, they’re possibly ingesting some of those elements when they’re supposed to be squeaky-clean!
To clean bath toys, certain “dishwasher-safe” ones can be run through the dishwasher on the top rack. Others can be cleaned by hand with a few drops of Puracy Natural Dish Soap, hot water, and a microfiber cloth. To get into tiny nooks and crannies, we find that an old toothbrush soaked in dish soap and water works best. You can also use the above-mentioned bleach solution to sanitize any openings that may store water within bath toys.
Your bedrooms should be a restful retreat, but your bed is a breeding ground for all kinds of creepy contaminants:
- Dust mite waste: Dust mite droppings are highly-allergenic and found in 80% of homes.
- Bacteria, fungi, and mold: Pillows are especially dirty, carrying Aspergillus fumigatus and other fungi that can trigger asthma and other serious conditions.
- Human sweat: Illnesses like strep and staph can be passed to partners via sweat.
How to Clean Your Pillows
- Use a pillow cover underneath your pillowcase.
- Wash your pillow covers and cases at least once a week.
- Consider switching to latex or memory foam pillows (which are less likely to harbor bacteria and fungi).
If your pillows are machine-washable, wash them at least once a month on the gentle cycle (warm water-low heat) with an enzyme-based detergent. Wash two at once to keep the machine balanced.
How to Clean Your Mattress
According to one study, the average person spends around 36 years of life in bed. It’s easier to sleep soundly, knowing you’re not surrounded by dust mites and bacteria.
- Use a protective, waterproof mattress cover that covers the entire mattress.
- Wash your sheets weekly and your mattress protector at least once a month.
- Vacuum your mattress with an upholstery attachment every time you wash your sheets.
- Spot clean your mattress using Puracy Stain Remover, following the directions on the bottle.
- Vacuum once more, then replace your mattress cover and linens.
Note: Every mattress is different, so it’s best to check with your manufacturer’s instructions before cleaning.
The Germiest Spots in Your Living Room
Carpet & Upholstery
Carpets should be vacuumed weekly and spot-treated as needed with Puracy Natural Stain Remover, which uses powerful, plant-based enzymes to remove:
- Pet accidents
- Sweat and more
After spot-treating you can follow-up with Puracy Natural Carpet and Upholstery Shampoo to freshen fabrics and remove dirt and grime.Pro tip: We recommend using a steam cleaner to eliminate odors, residues, and bacteria at least once per year.
Puracy Products Clean Effectively and Naturally
The best way to prevent the spread of germs throughout your home is with Puracy plant-based cleaners and stain removers. These get rid of life’s messes naturally, allowing you to effectively and thoroughly disinfect afterward.
We’re all in this together. For more germ-fighting tips, check out these related posts: