How to Clean and Disinfect Yourself, Your Home, and Your Stuff

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How to Clean and Disinfect Yourself, Your Home, and Your Stuff
There's something deeply unsettling about stepping out of the home-from-work boredom of self-isolation into the tense, ambient panic of grocery shopping during a pandemic. Normal is a double-sided coin now. At home things feel hyperreal, and outside they feel entirely surreal-two steps removed from the flashback scenes in a postapocalyptic movie.


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Wash Your Hands

The best way to lower your risk of contracting the new virus is to wash your hands after you cough, sneeze, touch your face, and when you leave and return from the grocery store.

It's also i...


To Keep Yourself Virus-Free

  • Wash your hands.
  • Stay home if you can.
  • If you're coughing or sneezing, wear a protective mask.
  • First clean, then disinfect your home.
  • Target high-touch sur...



The EPA has a full list of disinfectants that will kill the new virus.

Disinfectant that will work is disinfecting wipes, disinfectant spray, Isopropyl alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide.



What to disinfect

  • Be sure to disinfect surfaces dirty laundry comes in contact with, including the hamper and your hands, especially if you have a sick person in the house.
  • There is no evidence to su...



Spreading and deactivation

The new virus spreads most commonly through invisible respiratory droplets sent into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, droplets that can be inhaled by nearby people or land on surf...

Sticking in the air /on surfaces

  • The new virus is thought to persist in the air for up to 3 hours and for 2 to 3 days on stainless steel and plastic surfaces.
  • The new virus has been detected in feces, suggesting the virus could be spread by people who don’t properly wash their hands after using the bathroom.
  • There is no indication that it spreads through drinking water, swimming pools, or hot tubs.

Bleach and the outdoors

  • The disinfectant most commonly used outdoors is a diluted solution of sodium hypochlorite (household bleach). But it’s unclear whether bleach destroys viruses outside, and if it does kill them on surfaces it's unclear whether it would kill viruses in the air.
  • UV light seems to destroy the new virus as well. Bleach itself breaks down under ultraviolet (UV) light.


The new virus is usually transmitted through respiratory droplets from an infected person sneezing or coughing rather than through objects and materials that are contaminated.

However, the C...

Laundry machines and clothing

Family and emergency Dr. Janette Nesheiwat suggested that polyester, spandex-like material may retain germs longer than breathable cotton-based fabrics, but all types of fabrics can be contaminated.

It is safe to use a shared laundry machine because the virus is killed by washing your clothes over 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Don't boil everything, because it will ruin your clothes.

Washing of clothes

  • It is advised to wash clothes in detergent that contain a bleach compound as viruses can't survive in that harsh environment.
  • Regularly wash your clothes, especially if you have been in a crowded area. Also, consider washing your coat.
  • It's best to wash a sick person's clothing separately.

What we know

The virus that is causing the current outbreak is a respiratory one and spreads through droplet infection.

  • There have been no known cases of the virus spreading through "smear" inf...

Contaminated surfaces

  • The virus can be detected in aerosols (airborne droplets smaller than five micrometers) for up to three hours.
  • On copper, for up to four hours.
  • On cardboard, for up to 24 hours.
  • On stainless steel or plastic, for up to three days.

The virus particles on any surface decrease rapidly at the start, then slowly approaches zero over time.

Touching or eating contaminated food

If a food worker coughs over your food while preparing it, although really gross, your risk of contracting the disease that way is minimal.

According to a 2018 overview of respiratory viruses, the virus reproduces along the respiratory tract. It is a different pathway than the digestive tract food follows when you swallow it.

Even if you handle contaminated food and then deposit the virus along your respiratory tract, it's highly unlikely to get sick this way.

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