We’re all concerned about germs and the spread of viruses today, so it’s important to ask, “What’s the difference between cleaning a surface and disinfecting it?”
Cleaning refers to the removal of germs and dirt from surfaces. Cleaning will not kill germs; it simply removes them or reduces the number of germs, lowering the risk of infection.
Disinfecting is a process that uses chemicals to kill germs. In order to eliminate coronavirus (the virus that causes COVID-19) and reduce the risk of spreading it, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends hard surfaces be cleaned and disinfected frequently with household cleaners and EPA-registered disinfectants.
Areas that should be frequently cleaned and disinfected are commonly touched surfaces such as tables, hard-back chairs, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, cellphones, tablets, remotes, toilets, faucets, sinks and kitchen counters.
Disinfecting Solutions for the Home
- For disinfection, use dilute household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, disinfectant wipes and EPA-registered household disinfectants.
- Wear disposable gloves and discard them after each cleaning. If surfaces are visibly dirty, clean them with a detergent/soap and water prior to disinfection.
- Make sure to have proper ventilation when applying bleach products
to surfaces. Always check to ensure products are not expired.
- Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleaners. When preparing a bleach solution, follow one of the guidelines below:
Washing Clothes, Towels, Linens and Sheets
- Disposable gloves should be worn when handling dirty laundry.
- Do not shake dirty laundry. This will minimize the possibility
of dispersing the virus through the air.
- Clothing items should be washed in the warmest water possible and should be dried completely.
- Clean and disinfect clothes hampers and baskets. Consider placing a bag liner that is either disposable (can be thrown away) or can be laundered.
If Someone in Your Household Has COVID-19
- The ill person should have their own personal cleaning supplies for their room and bathroom.
- If a separate bathroom for the ill person is not available, the bathroom should be cleaned and disinfected after each use by the ill person.
- Wear gloves when removing garbage bags, handling trash and disposing of trash.
For more information, please visit cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/cleaning-disinfection.html.
By: Gayle Shultz, RN, MSN Augusta Health Community Outreach