The majority of COVID-19 transmission occurs through airborne particles. However, the novel coronavirus can be expelled from the lungs and land on surfaces, and it is possible for others to become infected when they touch those surfaces, then touch their faces, especially their eyes, noses, and mouths. Even if the risk of surface infection is low, it’s still important to follow disinfecting best practices. Read on to find out about the most crucial of them.
Cleaning vs. Disinfecting
Cleaning products contain soap or detergents. They’re designed to reduce the concentrations of germs on surfaces by removing contaminants to decrease the risk of surface infection. Disinfecting, on the other hand, goes one step further. It kills any remaining pathogens on surfaces, doing even more to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.
In some cases, cleaning with soap and water may be enough to keep areas clean throughout the day. However, if there’s a high transmission rate of COVID-19 in the community or a lot of people who don’t practice good hand hygiene and mask-wearing, it’s best to take the extra precaution of disinfecting surfaces more frequently.
If there are people who occupy the space who may be at an elevated risk of severe illness from COVID-19, make sure to disinfect frequently touched objects often using the best botanical disinfectant. The same goes for any facility or household where someone has tested positive for COVID-19.
Clean Before Disinfecting
Disinfectants work better when they are applied to surfaces that have already been cleaned using soap and water. The soap and water remove dirt, grime, and some of the contaminants. The disinfectant can then reach any lingering germs easily to kill more of the virus particles.
Use EPA-Registered Disinfectants
Not all disinfectants are created equal, and not all of them are effective at neutralizing the novel coronavirus. To make life easier for business owners and residents, the EPA has created a list of registered disinfectants that are effective against the coronavirus. To see if a product purchased at the store or online is on the list, locate its EPA registration number on the label and enter it into the EPA’s product finder. While some disinfectants not registered with the EPA to fight COVID-19 may still be effective at neutralizing the coronavirus, it’s best to use one that’s already proven to work.
Follow Manufacturers’ Specifications
Disinfectant products, even those that are made with botanical ingredients, can cause skin irritation or other worrisome health symptoms after prolonged contact. They’re designed to kill viruses on solid surfaces, not to be applied to people. To avoid unwanted side effects, check the product’s label and make sure to follow the manufacturer’s specifications. They often include wearing gloves and a mask.
Don’t Ignore CDC Guidelines
The CDC has published guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting commercial spaces following COVID-19 exposure. It’s important to follow these guidelines, especially in regard to ensuring worker health and safety. Make sure everyone tasked with cleaning and disinfecting after a possible COVID exposure has access to adequate training and personal protective equipment. It’s also relevant to note that even frequent cleaning and disinfecting won’t reduce airborne transmission. All people disinfecting surfaces indoors should wear masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus by airborne particles.
Never Ask Children to Apply Disinfectants
Disinfectants are powerful tools. If they’re stored or used incorrectly, they can create a health risk. Parents, teachers, and other child care workers should never ask children to apply disinfectants. While it’s essential to provide kids with hand sanitizers and educate them about the importance of good hygiene and following CDC recommendations, children should never be entrusted with chemical agents of any kind, including disinfectants.
Store Products in a Secure Location
Adults responsible for child care should keep the products in a secure location when not in use to avoid the risk of poisoning. The same goes for parents who live in households with small children or pets.
Be Aware That Disinfectants Can Be an Asthma Trigger
People suffering from asthma often experience flare-ups when exposed to disinfectants during application. It’s best for asthma patients to avoid applying disinfectants themselves and to avoid the areas being disinfected until after the process has been completed. If there’s no way to delegate the task to someone else in the workplace or household, wear a mask and avoid prolonged exposure to reduce the risk of experiencing an asthma attack.
Don’t Spray Disinfectants Around Food
Whether disinfectants are made using chemicals or botanical agents, they’re meant for a very specific purpose. They kill germs on hard surfaces. Introducing aerosolized disinfectants to areas used in food preparation is always a bad idea, as these substances are not safe for human consumption. It’s fine to use sanitizers in kitchens as long as they are approved for that use, but avoid applying chemicals to food prep areas to minimize the chances of unintentional ingestion.
Don’t Dilute Disinfectants
Unless the instructions on the bottle specifically state that the solution should be diluted before application, don’t add any water. It may be tempting to assume that adding water will help to stretch the disinfectant for longer, but what it will actually do is reduce the product’s effectiveness. It’s better to buy two bottles of disinfectant but know that it will work than it is to dilute one bottle to clean a larger surface area.
The Bottom Line
While the novel coronavirus spreads primarily via airborne transmission, it can be transmitted by touching infected surfaces then touching the nose, eyes, or mouth. The best way to cut down on this rare but still serious form of transmission is to clean surfaces regularly and use disinfectant products as recommended by the EPA and the CDC. Make sure to check that the products are safe and EPA-registered for use against the virus that causes COVID-19 and follow all the manufacturer’s safety instructions. As long as household or commercial cleaners follow these best practices, it’s safe to use disinfectants indoors on frequently touched solid surfaces and can help to cut down on coronavirus transmission.