Unsurprisingly, there's a lot of information (and misinformation) flying around on social networks, so we've put together a guide of the best scientifically-based cleaning advice.
We know that the following cleaning list seems daunting, especially if you have a larger home or a big family. The most important change to make at the moment is to clean the high-touch areas in your home regularly (see our advice below).
Be methodical and don’t panic. As we’ve seen with hand washing, we can have a big effect on the spread of infection by making small changes to our habits.
What to use
Put on rubber gloves when you clean, if you have them. You don’t need special cleaning products: your ordinary cleaning supplies will work well.
Detergent and hot water is a surprisingly effective cleaner. Soap unsticks viral particles from surfaces and suspends them in water. Detergent, such as washing up liquid, will break down the protein that encases a virus and destroy it.
An anti-bacterial spray or wipes is another excellent option and a great choice for disinfecting high-touch surfaces.
You can also use bleach or hydrogen peroxide, although these should be used with care as they can burn your skin. Bleach will kill almost any microorganism but it’s a very harsh cleaner and will damage surfaces, as well as making your home smell terrible. Not ideal, if you're stuck indoors.
Rubbing alcohol is another good option, although, like bleach, it can discolour surfaces in your home. If you decide to use it, remember that it will do nothing if it’s diluted.
If you do use a harsh cleaner, make sure that children, pets and anyone with respiratory conditions are well out of the way. Ensure that rooms are well-ventilated.
In spite of what you may have read on Instagram, don’t use vinegar or vodka. The alcohol content of vodka and similar spirits will probably not be high enough to disinfect a surface and there is no evidence that vinegar is effective against coronavirus.
More important is your technique. If you are using antibacterial wipes or spray, make sure you go over every surface you clean properly. With detergent and water, give everything a really good scrub. What you’re aiming to do is remove any grime (like a sticky fingerprint) that microbes may be living in.
Wash your hands as soon as you come in
As soon as any member of the household comes in from outside, they should wash their hands right away. If there’s a bit of a trek between your front door and the nearest sink, keep a bottle of hand sanitiser by the door. As soon as you’ve taken off your shoes and jacket (which should be kept by the door), wash your hands.
This will help to prevent any viruses or microbes from the outside making their way into your home.
High-touch areas: at least once a day
Ideally, you should do this at least twice a day if you are living in an area with a high risk of COVID-19 or if you have vulnerable family members and have to go out to work.
Put on gloves and use a spray cleaner or wipes with a label that says they'll kill 99.99% of germs. If you don’t have either of these, and can’t get them at the moment, don’t worry. Use hot, soapy water. This is highly effective – it’s just a bit more work.
Wiping down high-touch areas is the most important change to your home cleaning routine. It’s likely that this is a cleaning job that you might often forget or neglect as these parts of your home don’t look obviously dirty.
But high-touch areas (very simply areas that we touch a lot in our home and that are touched by most members of the household) are the key way that sources of infection travel around the home and from person to person.
Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands. As soon as you’ve finished cleaning, wash your gloves and hang them to dry, then wash your hands.
High-touch areas to clean:
- door handles – this includes cupboard and drawer handles and knobs
- taps (and don’t forget the flush on your toilet)
- light switches
- TV and music centre remote controls
- kitchen appliances – your cooker knobs and door handle, the extractor fan switches, the fridge and freezer handles
- all surfaces that you eat from and where you regularly rest a coffee cup or put down a book: kitchen counters, dining table, coffee tables and bedside tables
- the backs of dining chairs, where people take hold to move them
- stair rails
- gaming controllers
- computer keyboards (we’ve got advice on how to clean your keyboard without damaging it)
- phones (have a look at our guide on how to clean your phone).
A good tip is to walk around your home with a spray cleaner and think of all the spots you’d naturally touch in each room.
Towels and tea towels
Your hand and tea towels should be treated as high-touch items and replaced every day.
As often as possible, gather up all of the bath mats, bath towels, cloths and blankets from around your home and stick them in a hot wash.
If a member of your household starts to feel ill, make sure that they use a different set of towels (including tea towels) from the rest of the household.
Clothes, bedding and upholstery
For clothing and bedding, use the hot wash on your washing machine when you can.
A steam cleaner is very useful for upholstery and soft furnishings. The Government recommends using one on bedding or soft furnishings that may have come into contact with an infected person.
We're recommending the Vax S86-SF-CC Steam Fresh Combi Classic Multifunction Steam Mop. Amazon has a big discount on this cleaner at the moment. It’s down to £69.99 from £149.99 – a saving of £80. It transforms into a handheld device for counter tops and upholstery and is ready to steam clean in only 40 seconds.
Amazon also has a great deal on the SIMBR multipurpose steam cleaner. It’s down from £230.99 to £109.99 – a saving of £121. It has a 1.5 litre water tank and will heat up to 200℉ in 8-9 minutes. We haven’t tested it but the specs are solid and it’s a good money-off deal.
Strip the bed and run your steamer over the mattress and pillows. Move on to your sofa and chairs and do the same. Put all washable bedding in your machine on a hot wash.
If one of the family starts to feel ill, step up this habit.
In the kitchen
Make good use of your dishwasher. At the end of every meal, put everything in the dishwasher and put it on a hot setting. If you don’t have one, use hot water and washing-up liquid. Dry everything right away with a clean tea towel. Empty the washing-up bowl or your sink and clean your sink after each use. Don’t leave washing-up water sitting for later use.
Get out of the habit of re-using mugs, glasses, teaspoons and knives. Use an item once and then either put it in the dishwasher or set it aside to wash up in your next batch.
You can read the Government’s advice on how to use your dishwasher and washing machine to keep your family safe in our article.