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The most effective ways to kill coronavirus in your home

The most effective ways to kill coronavirus in your home

There are many home cleaning supplies that may be effective against novel coronavirus (COVID-19.) Scientists recommend using disinfectants that are known to work against other coronaviruses and also advise following the specific instructions for each cleaning supply that you use.

"An important general rule is that you shouldn't immediately wipe a cleaning solution off as soon as you've applied it to a surface. Let it sit there long enough to kill viruses first," Donald Schaffner said in a university news release. He's a professor and food microbiologist at Rutgers.

How often should I clean?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends daily disinfection of often-touched surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks, as well as the use of detergent or soap and water on dirty surfaces prior to disinfection.

If someone in your household has flu-like symptoms, consider regularly disinfecting objects in your home, since the new coronavirus has been shown to survive for 16 hours on plastics.

What types of cleaning supplies work best?

Never use different cleaning agents at the same time. Some household chemicals, if mixed, can create dangerous and poisonous gases.

Bleach

If you use bleach, use a one-quarter cup of bleach per 1 gallon of cold water, but be sure to follow directions on the product label. Make the diluted bleach solution as needed and use within 24 hours, as its disinfecting power fades with time.

Nonporous items like plastic toys can be dipped in bleach for 30 seconds. Household surfaces that won't be damaged by bleach should get 10 or more minutes of exposure.

Bleach solutions are hard on the skin, so don't use them as a substitute for hand-washing and/or hand sanitizer.

Alcohol

Many forms of alcohol, including rubbing alcohol, can kill germs. You can dilute alcohol with water (or aloe vera to make hand sanitizer) but be sure to keep an alcohol concentration of around 70% to kill coronaviruses.

Solutions of 70% alcohol should be left on surfaces for 30 seconds (including cellphones) to ensure they will kill viruses. Pure (100%) alcohol evaporates too quickly for such use.

Unlike bleach solutions, alcohol solutions will remain potent as long as they're kept sealed between uses. But a 70% alcohol solution with water is harsh on the hands and shouldn't be used as a substitute for hand-washing and/or hand sanitizer.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is typically sold in concentrations of about 3%. It can be used as-is or diluted to 0.5% concentration for effective use against coronaviruses on surfaces.

It should be left on surfaces for one minute before wiping.

Which cleaners do not work well?

Natural chemicals such as vinegar and tea tree oil are not recommended for fighting coronaviruses.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on the coronavirus.

Additional resources:

Staying calm during coronavirus: Doctor offers best tips for lowering anxiety

How to dispel your child's fears about coronavirus

Why handwashing really is effective in stopping spread of coronavirus

COVID-19 Parent Resource Center from Children's Hospital New Orleans