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7 Household Cleaning Myths Debunked

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The facts you need to keep a clean, healthy home

Posted by Temple Health

Practicing good hand hygiene is important for reducing the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), but so is maintaining a clean, healthy environment at home. Cleaning and disinfecting your home on a regular basis will help to reduce your risk of becoming sick.

You’ve probably heard or read a lot about various cleaning methods, but which ones should you actually follow? We break down some common house-cleaning myths that we frequently hear, with the facts that you need to stay healthy.

Myth #1: Cleaning and disinfecting are the same thing.

According to the CDC, cleaning refers to removing dirt and dust from surfaces, which also removes (but does not kill) some of the germs there. Cleaning is important because it reduces the number of germs in the environment.

Disinfecting, on the other hand, kills germs on surfaces by dousing them with chemicals.

Now more than ever, both cleaning and disinfecting play a vital role in keeping your home sanitary.

Myth #2: Disinfectant products work instantly.

Many people use convenient disinfectant wipes to kill germs on surfaces, but it’s important to know these products do not kill germs instantly.

Merely swiping a surface will not destroy the germs there. Read the product label carefully to find the instruction titled “to disinfect.” This instruction will tell you how many minutes to leave the product on the surface to kill germs.

You may need to saturate the surface and leave it wet for 4 minutes or longer to actually kill germs.

Myth #3: Disinfecting alone is more powerful than cleaning.

Cleaning and disinfecting actually go hand-in-hand. Before you disinfect, you should always clean — remove surface dust, dirt and grime.

Surface dirt can react with the chemicals in disinfecting products and render them unable to kill germs effectively. Do not let your germ-killing efforts go to waste by failing to thoroughly clean before applying disinfectant!

Myth #4: Soap and water on surfaces are useless against COVID-19.

Basic soap-and-water scrubbing can, in fact, kill bacteria and viruses like coronavirus. Cleaning with soap and water can also dislodge germs and cause them to slide off surfaces when rinsing.

You can use regular dish soap and hot water to clean surfaces (be sure to rinse with plain water) before applying a disinfectant to kill even more germs.

Myth #5: Only high-touch surfaces need to be disinfected.

On a daily basis, you should disinfect high-touch surfaces that your household members touch regularly. Things like:

  • Doorknobs
  • Light switches
  • Refrigerator handles
  • Cabinet handles
  • Railings

But you should also regularly disinfect all the common areas of your home. This includes your bathroom, dining room, living room (think remote controls), and so on.

Reducing germs throughout the home environment makes the place safer for everyone.

Myth #6: Only commercial disinfectants work against COVID-19.

Actually, the CDC endorses 2 common household products for disinfecting nonporous home surfaces — bleach and rubbing alcohol.

Use a diluted bleach solution (one-third cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water) or apply full-strength rubbing alcohol (minimum 60% alcohol) to surfaces and allow the disinfectant to sit for several minutes before rinsing.

Myth #7: You should bleach all your laundry to destroy any germs on it.

This is not good advice! You will ruin all your clothes.

For clothing, bedding, towels and other washable items, simply launder as directed. Use the hottest water setting recommended by the clothing label.

Most bacteria and viruses cannot survive the warm, soapy, turbulent environment of a washing machine, so you do not need to add a disinfecting product.

Reducing Your Risk

Maintaining a clean, sanitary home environment can pay dividends in reducing your risk of picking up germs that can make you sick. Now, more than ever, be sure to regularly clean and disinfect your home to stay healthy!

If, despite your best efforts, you begin to develop symptoms of COVID-19 or another illness, call your healthcare provider at Temple Health. We’re here to help you get well and stay well.

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