The coronavirus is generating a lot of fear. While public health officials are worried about public gatherings, most of the infections will likely come from close contact within families.
Here are some tips for protecting yourself and your family
Hand washing with soap (for at least 20 seconds) is the still best protection. Avoid touching your face with your hands. Hand sanitizer will work in a pinch.
Disinfect surfaces in your home and workplace
Doorknobs, stair railings, refrigerator handle…..you know the spots. But make sure to do it right! Not all cleaning products will kill the virus. The EPA has released a list of effective products.
If a product isn’t on the list, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work. For example store brands that are equivalent to Clorox or Lysol products are not listed, but should work. Compare the labels to make sure the ingredients look the same.
A problem with these cleaning products is that while they kill viruses, and no one wants to get sick, they are full of chemicals.
Some people don’t tolerate the chemicals in many of these cleaning products, and get irritated eyes, skin or lungs. Some people are concerned about exposing their family to more chemicals and prefer natural disinfectants.
Some natural disinfectants work and some don’t
The EPA didn’t include natural products on it’s list, so here is a rundown of what works:
- Vodka actually works well as a natural disinfectant for bacteria but doesn’t have high enough alcohol content to kill coronavirus. Vodka is only 40% alcohol, but >60% alcohol is required. Everclear vodka is 75.5% alcohol and could be used! Put it in a spray bottle, and spritz over a surface that has been cleaned with soap and water, It is important to allow it to dry – if you spritz and then wipe it off immediately it won’t have a chance to disinfect.
- Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) works well as long as it is >60% alcohol (it will say right on the bottle). Spray on a clean surface and allow to dry.
- Hydrogen peroxide works to kill viruses. Clean with soap and water, then spritz peroxide and let it dry. It’s important to keep the hydrogen peroxide in the original brown bottle (just attach a spray nozzle right to the bottle). If you transfer peroxide to a clear bottle where it is exposed to light it will lose effectiveness.
- Vinegar kills some viruses, but it may not be a strong as chemical disinfectants, and isn’t recommended on it’s own. Combining vinegar and hydrogen peroxide works better than either alone, since they work on the virus in different ways. Some people think this combo may work even better than bleach. It’s important to use them one at a time and not mix them together – spritz a clean surface with vinegar, allow to dry, then spritz with hydrogen peroxide.
Disinfect your tech too!
While you’re cleaning, don’t forget to disinfect your phone. Your phone has more germs than a toilet seat! Wearing a mask doesn’t really help protect you, but cleaning your phone could.
Apple is now saying that it is ok to clean your phone with clorox wipes (previously they warned that this could damage the screen) Another option is to spray rubbing alcohol (>60%) on a soft cloth and wipe the surfaces of your tech. Don’t spray directly onto your phone or keyboard. If you have a screen protector this will protect the surface from the cleaning products, and if the protector is damaged at least it is inexpensive and easy to replace.
Since we are now finding that the virus can be spread via feces, don’t use your phone while you’re on the toilet! (There, I said it….)
No need to panic….
While coronavirus is consuming the news these days, this is the same advice we give to protect yourself from the flu and other viruses. No need to panic, become a germophobe or spend your entire day disinfecting your house. Common sense still rules the day.
Boost your immune system by eating your veggies, avoiding sugar, and not allowing yourself to get too stressed out. Wash your hands. And disinfect that phone!