Cleaning may be part of our everyday household chores. But with unseen potential threats that could easily affect our loved ones, it’s high time for us mums to take old habits to the next level, and master the proper ways to clean and disinfect homes.
Studies have concluded that some pathogens like viruses can stay infectious in air for hours or on surfaces like cardboard and plastic for days. These findings make it all the more important to understand these elements and know what can we do to ward them off. But isn’t cleaning the same as disinfecting?
Cleaning VS Disinfecting: What’s the Difference?
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cleaning and disinfecting differ in terms of method and purpose.
Cleaning, for instance, means the removal of visible dirt or contaminants on surfaces. It can reduce the number of germs, but not kill them, to lower the risk of infection. We use soap or detergent solution and water when cleaning to reduce the soil load and make disinfectants more potent and effective.
Disinfecting, on the other hand, aims to kill pathogens on surfaces after cleaning them. By doing so, you are further reducing the chances of infection. To properly disinfect your home, you need to use safe and approved chemicals. Look for a solution with 70% alcohol as well as a hospital-grade disinfectant in Australia or one that kills 99.9% of germs.
The Australian Government Department of Health also suggests making a bleach solution for disinfecting, with recommended ratios depending on the sodium hypochlorite (active ingredient) present in your household bleach. You may also check the label of your bleach product and follow proper dilution instructions. Remember to wear protective gear when handling disinfectants. Also, use cotton cloth for wiping as sponges take longer to dry and can harbour bacteria.
Best Ways to Clean and Disinfect Homes
To clean and disinfect homes the right way, I start by identifying high-touch surfaces. Here’s a checklist that you can incorporate to your cleaning routine.
- Practice the clean-as-you-go (CLAYGO) technique. Remove spills right away and don’t leave any empty packages lying around. Throw away food peelings or trimmings immediately or put them in your composting bin if you have one. After cleaning, use disinfectant wipes on benchtops and food prep areas. You can also spray these surfaces with your bleach solution, let sit for about 10 minutes, then wipe with a damp cloth.
- Clean and disinfect drawers and fridge door. Make sure to wipe handles, inner shelves and other areas that you usually touch or hold to get food.
- Wash and disinfect plates and cutlery. If possible, wash your spoons, forks and knives on high heat in the dishwasher. You can also dip them in homemade disinfectant solution after handwashing. Make sure to put away your clean dishes as soon as they’re dry, and frequently change your cleaning tools like sponges and cloths.
- Use reusable bags for groceries. They’re not only eco-friendly but also easy to clean and disinfect.
- Wash damp or used towels frequently. It’s also a good idea to give everyone a separate hand and body towel as an extra precaution.
- Disinfect knobs, toilet flush and drawer handle, sink tap, light switches and other similar areas. If someone is sick at home, have paper towels ready. Make sure bath mats are changed regularly, and soap is within easy reach. These cleaning hacks from a previous article can also help you remove moulds in your bathroom.
- Empty the bins regularly. Use a bin liner for easy waste disposal with minimum hand contact.
- Change beddings and curtains more often. Wash your bed linen or sheets, blankets and pillowcases in detergent and warm water to remove droplets, germs or bacteria. If your kids play with stuffed toys, make sure to wash them regularly as well.
- Keep bedside lamps, drawer handles and switches disinfected. If you have upholstery or chairs in your bedroom, cover them with blankets or use washable pillowcases for easy clean-up.
- Disinfect remote controls, phones, tablets, computers and alarms. Spray alcohol on cloth or paper towel to wipe electronic devices clean. Alcohol evaporates fast enough to avoid causing water damage to your gadgets.
- Wash clothing as soon as possible. Pathogens can cling on fabric, so do your laundry often, or immediately wash clothes if you’ve used them to go outside. Wash them with soap and warm water, then dry them thoroughly.
- Wipe down your laundry hamper. Do this to avoid contaminating other clothes, or you can also line your hamper with a disposable or washable liner.
Clean and Disinfect Homes to Stay Safe
Aside from personal hygiene, the cleanliness of our house is one of the main factors to keep ourselves and others healthy and free from any illness. Let’s then make it a habit to clean and disinfect our homes and pass on these good practices to our kids!