The concern about the new coronavirus has a lot of us being more diligent about wiping down our desks, counters and other surfaces that we touch. But according to people who are experts at environmental surface cleaning, a lot of us get it wrong.
When it comes to fighting illnesses, ingredients matter. There's a distinct difference between cleaners, which get rid of dirt, and disinfectants, which kill germs. Popular household disinfectants claim to kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria. The Environmental Protection Agency says those disinfectants are thought to be effective against the coronavirus, but their ability to actually kill the virus has not been scientifically proven. So the key word is they may be effective.
Here's what else you should know: Whether you use wipes or a liquid solution, always wipe in one direction to avoid recontaminating the surface as you're wiping.
And here's something a lot of us miss: The surface must stay wet with disinfectant long enough to kill the bugs.
Read the instructions and you'll see that you may need to have the treated surface remain visibly wet with disinfectant for four full minutes. For large surfaces you might do better with a disinfectant spray.
And avoid using the same wipe for everything. Discard and replace wipes frequently as you wipe.
Also, quarantine your germ-ridden TV remotes. They're routinely used by multiple hands and disinfectant can't get reach the crevices. To guard against that source of viruses and bacteria, seal each remote in a plastic storage bag. You can still see and push the controls, and keep the bag surface clean.
When you read the fine print on some disinfectant labels you'll see reference to human coronavirus. This is not the same as the novel coronavirus disease we're dealing with now- formally named COVID-19. Human coronavirus is a common virus like a cold.
Finally, keep in mind that disinfecting surfaces only goes so far because a major source of disease transmission is still in your hands.
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