How to properly disinfect your home during the COVID-19 pandemic

With more people self-isolating or being asked to work from home, the recommendation from health officials is to disinfect commonly touched surfaces in addition to washing your hands regularly.

Robert MacNamara is the regional director of Jani-King, a commercial cleaning service provider.

He said when it comes to disinfecting, you're going to want to focus on the most frequently touched surfaces — things like countertops, door handles and light switches.

1. Get the right supplies

MacNamara said while it's not mandatory, it always helps to wear gloves.

When it comes to what you're using, look for approved products for disinfecting — something with a 70 per cent alcohol base. 

"You're always wanting to use something stronger and you want to make sure you know you're using the right process," he said.

Nicole Williams/CBC

If you've been to the stores where alcohol wipes are in short supply, MacNamara said you can also use household bleach.

Make sure to read the instructions and check the expiration date, but you can likely make a solution with a third of a cup of bleach mixed with about four litres of water.

If none of that is an option, use soap and hot water. 

2. Declutter and clean before you disinfect

Once you've sorted out your supplies, MacNamara said the next thing to do is clean.

"Get the dirt out first ... before you disinfect. So start cleaning, wipe up. I use the example 'wipe up that spaghetti sauce first before you try to disinfect,'" he said.

3. Read the instructions

When it's time to disinfect, MacNamara said to read the instructions for how long to leave the cleaning product on those surfaces. That's the key in actually killing those germs.

Experts recommend leaving the product on the surface for about a minute before you wipe it away.

4. Don't cross-contaminate

MacNamara said people should also keep in mind cross-contamination. Don't use the same cloth to clean the toilet and the sink.

He said a good way to remember which cloth is for which surface is to use different colours.

When you're done, throw them in the laundry on the hot setting and then wash your hands.

5. Sanitize twice a day

MacNamara suggests disinfecting twice a day. If that seems like a lot, he said families can try getting everyone involved.

"The kids are home from school, let them do it," he said. 

"Put some gloves on and make sure you clean in the mornings and in the evenings, before you go to bed is helpful and smile doing it."

COVID-19: What you need to know

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

Common symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Cough.
  • Tiredness.

But more serious symptoms can develop, including difficulty breathing and pneumonia, which can lead to death.

What should I do if I feel sick?

Isolate yourself and call your local public health authority. Do not visit an emergency room or urgent care centre to get tested.

How can I protect myself?

  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.

More detailed information on the outbreak is available on the federal government's website.

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