If you are not an essential worker, you’ve likely spent the majority of the coronavirus pandemic quarantining inside your home, which should be a place of safety and comfort. However, the living virus could be hiding in your house. Sure, you wipe down your groceries and wash your hands, but infectious droplets could be clinging to furniture and features you hadn’t thought to disinfect. To help you keep your family safe, we asked experts how to clean the surprising spots where the coronavirus could be living in your home.
Around your windows
You might want to start paying closer attention to the cleanliness of not only your windows, but their nooks and crannies. Benjamin Ottis of Full Color Cleaners points out that “a lot of harmful allergens collect on and around the window areas,” though “most homeowners don’t really think about how clean their windows are.” The next time you’re dusting your windows to make them shine, you should also spray them with some disinfectant to make sure they’re coronavirus-free.
The bottoms of your shoes are inherently dirty, which is why so many people take their shoes off at the door. But your kicks could pose even more of a threat than you previously thought. Anthony Weinert, DPM head of Shoe Pantry, stresses the importance of either taking your shoes off outside of your door or disinfecting your shoes before heading into your home. You can wipe down the soles with a disinfecting wipe; also consider tossing any shoes that can be machine washed into your washer every once in a while.
You’re likely in an ongoing battle with the dust and dirt on your floor, but have you considered that there may be more serious enemies under your feet?
A recent study by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) looked at the aerosol and surface distribution of the coronavirus in hospitals in Wuhan, China, finding that it was “widely distributed” on floors. It was even found on the floor of the pharmacy, despite the lack of patients in that space. Virus droplets fall downward, and staff likely tracked those droplets in on their shoes.
Rather than doing a quick sweep of your floor, use a disinfectant to make sure those pesky coronavirus droplets can’t survive in your home. Kevin Geick of Bio Recovery, a biohazard, crime scene, and disease cleanup company says, “If not properly handled, anything that touches the floor can be contaminated.”
After a long day, you just want to collapse in your bedroom. However, if you’re wearing the clothes you wore outside, you could be transferring germs and/or virus droplets to your comforter or sheets. “Even your pillow can become a coronavirus hotbed if you lay down before washing your hair and face,” says health and wellness expert Linda Morgan. At night when you lay your head down to rest, you’ll be breathing in all the droplets you dragged in on your clothing from outside. (The same is true of reclining on your couch or in a chair.) To keep yourself safe, it’s best to immediately remove and wash clothing you’ve worn outside and to regularly wash and change your bedding. Don’t leave out duvet covers or pillowcases, either.
Your air conditioner
Frighteningly, your air conditioner can circulate air that’s contaminated with coronavirus. In your own home, you shouldn’t be too concerned unless someone in the household is sick. But if you live in an apartment building that has a central system, you may want to avoid flipping it on unless you really need it. (Additionally, coronavirus droplets could be hiding out in your air conditioner’s filter, so cleaning it may actually make matters worse.)
Aviad Shneiderman, co-founder and CEO of Aura Air, suggests introducing fresh air into your home to avoid relying on your central air unit. But, he warns, “It’s important to be mindful of what’s outside your window. If you live near a busy street, you will want to avoid opening your windows during rush hour. Try instead to get fresh air early in the morning and in the evenings.”6
When you clean a couch or chair, most of your energy is probably focused on crumbs and stains on the cushions. However, when cleaning with coronavirus in mind, you might want to pay closer attention to the armrests. Per The New York Times, the virus can survive longer on smooth surfaces than it can on fabric, but it can still be viable on your upholstered furniture for a few hours. Say a contaminated person coughs or sneezes into their hands and then touches the armrest—that could potentially lead to the next person who sits in that spot becoming infected. Use a United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved disinfectant that works on fabrics to keep your seating from posing a threat.7
A study published by The New England Journal of Medicine in April found that the coronavirus could survive on metal surfaces for up to three days, which includes the utensils in your kitchen. “If you do not carefully wash your hands before putting clean dishes away, you risk transferring germs to them,” says Morgan. So be sure to scrub your hands often, even if you think they’re pretty clean.
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