Now that we’ve all learned how to wash our hands the right way, disinfection is next on the list of activities we assumed we knew how to do pre-coronavirus but have since found out – or are about to find out now – that we don’t.

While we aren’t sure whether the coronavirus transmits from contaminated surfaces, a new study finds it may live up to 24 hours on cardboard and three days on plastic and stainless steel. Routine cleaning and disinfecting is a key to combatting COVID-19 and other bacteria and viruses that make us sick. Considering all the time we are spending at home right now, it’s extra smart to make sure it’s a safe place to be.

WHAT EXACTLY IS A DISINFECTANT?
A disinfectant is an anti-microbial -- basically it is to hard surfaces what an antibiotic is to your body. From a technical and legal sense, a disinfectant is a chemical agent capable of reducing the level of specific pathogenic bacteria by 99.99 percent in less than 10 minutes time. 

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CLEAN FIRST
Disinfecting uses chemicals to kill germs on surfaces, but in order to get to the germs, we need to clean first or else the dust and dirt shields the germs and keeps the disinfectant from doing its job. 

When cleaning, here are things to keep in mind:
1. Use a product safe for the surface and be sure to check the label and be aware of any caution you should take.
2. Detail matters. Clean carefully and thoroughly because the more dirt you remove, the better the disinfectant will be able to kill the bacteria and viruses underneath.
3. A home is only as clean as what you use to clean it. Sponges and cloths are known to move germs from one surface to another, so be sure the tools you use are clean or it will defeat your efforts.
4. Don’t be afraid of “green.” Safe cleaning products work as well—and in many cases better—than traditional cleaners. Plus, scientific evidence links the chemicals in traditional housecleaning products to various health problems that can be as mild as a headache or as severe as cancer. With so much time being spent inside, indoor air quality is more important than ever.

WHICH DISINFECTANT TO USE? 
There are different types and levels of disinfectants, and while not all kill all bacteria and viruses, one thing that’s more comforting is that the coronavirus is not one that needs anything stronger than a common household disinfectant. Whatever you use, always be careful and remember not to mix cleaning chemicals because that can be lethal.

DWELL TIME IS SWELL TIME
Once a surface is clean and dry, it’s time to apply the disinfectant. You can use a wipe or spray it directly on the surface, but what’s important – and where most people go wrong – is that you need to apply enough solution that it stays wet for the “dwell time,” which is the number of minutes needed to kill the germs. The dwell time depends on the product and you can find it on the label.

After the time is up, it’s preferable to let the solution air dry; drying it with a cloth is likely to add germs to the newly clean and disinfected surface. Many types of disinfectants are food contact safe, so there’s no need to wipe those. The only time it’s important to rinse is when the label tells you to.

HIGH TOUCH POINTS
The most important areas to focus on are those that are touched most often and therefore harbor the most germs. Many of these areas are inside your home, but don’t forget the ones outside too!
• Light switches
• Interior and exterior doorknobs
• Cabinet handles
• Countertops
• Appliance handles and buttons
• Faucets and sinks
• Hand soap dispensers
• Toilet seats and handles
• Stair railings
• Mobile phones (and home phones where they may still exist)
• Computer keyboards
• Remote controls
• Alarm clocks
• Mailboxes
• Car steering wheel and door handles
• Alarm panels
• Thermostat
• Garbage cans

Maid Brigade has always been committed to providing customers with the safest, healthiest and most effective cleaning methods available. We are here for you if you have any questions about cleaning and disinfecting. Check out our website, maidbrigade.com/ny/lower-hudson-valley/ or reach out to us by phone or text at 914-741-0552, or email at happy@maidbrigade.com.