Aside from regular and thorough hand washing and the use of hand sanitiser, proper cleaning within your home can be the first line of defence against some viruses, bacteria and germs. Not only does a thorough clean and disinfect do wonders for your family’s health, but it also makes your home a pleasure to be within – especially in the event you may have to spend an extended period of time there.
It is important to note that there is a difference between cleaning and disinfecting. Cleaning is about removing contaminants and dirt from a surface, whereas disinfecting is about killing microscopic organisms on surfaces. Disinfecting is usually only achieved by using chemicals that can kill the organisms and prevent them from spreading.
It is recommended that we clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces in our home as least once a day. In the event that you or a family member is unwell, we will need to increase the amount of cleaning and disinfecting we do throughout the day.
Whilst we’re all familiar with ways to properly clean our homes, when it comes to where or how to disinfect, many of us may be left scratching their heads. In order to assist all families out there, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide on how you can properly disinfect your homes.
Disinfectant Cleaning Supplies
There’s a number of off the shelf disinfectants that will work a treat. You can find these at Coles, Woolies, Aldi, or even Bunnings.
We recommend you use…
- Trigger Spray Disinfectant – Dettol, Pine O Cleen, etc.
- Disinfectant Wipes – Dettol appears to be best, although there are other options.
- Aerosol Spray Disinfectant – Glen20 is good for a final once-over after you’ve cleaned each surface.
- Floor Cleaner Disinfectant – For tiles & hard floors. Handy Andy, Pine O Cleen, Dettol, etc.
- Laundry Disinfectant – Dettol, Pine O Cleen, White King, Canesten, etc.
- Paper Towels, or Cleaning Cloths – Ideally cheaper ones that can be disposed of after each clean.
Sponges should not be used as they can harbour bacteria in the crevices.
In the event that you cannot source any of these commercial disinfectant products, you can make your own…
- Add 4 tablespoons of household bleach to 4 cups of water.
- Pour both into a spray bottle and shake vigorously.
- Spray on surface to disinfect, let sit for 10 minutes, wipe away with a wet white cloth or paper towel.
Disinfectant Dip Solution
- Add 4 tablespoons of household bleach to 4 cups of water.
- Pour both into a suitable container and stir.
- Dip a clean white cloth or paper towel into the solution and apply to the surface to disinfect. Let sit for 10 minutes and then rinse the surface with plain clean water.
These solutions should be mixed fresh every day because chlorine bleach can lose its cleaning properties when exposed to air for long periods.
Here are a couple of alternatives if you can’t source off the shelf laundry disinfectants…
- Household Bleach – Very effective, but can’t be used on coloured fabrics. Don’t use it too often. Don’t pour directly onto fabrics. Dilute with water.
- Vinegar & Bi-Carb Soda – Combine with your regular laundry detergent.
- Ammonia – 1/4 cup added to a large load. Don’t ever mix with bleach! It will create a toxic gas. Don’t pour directly onto fabrics. Dilute with water.
- Hydrogen Peroxide – 1/2 cup added to a large load. Don’t pour directly onto coloured fabrics. Add to wash after there’s some water in it. Be careful with dark fabrics.
Note: Heat is your friend with laundry. Try to make the wash cycle as hot as possible, and run through the dryer on a hot cycle too (if your fabrics can handle it).
Note: You should never ever mix bleach with any other cleaning chemical as it can produce toxic gasses and will damage or discolour surfaces. Always remember to wear gloves and protective eyewear, open all windows to ensure there is adequate ventilation, and wash your hands with sop and warm water when finished.
Most importantly, be sure to keep all chemicals, cleaning products and cleaning equipment out of reach of children at all times.
First clean, then disinfect
As a general rule of thumb when it comes to disinfecting your home, surfaces should first be cleaned, and then disinfected.
First, clean the surface to remove any dust, contaminants, dirt or debris. This is no different from how you would normally clean your house. You can do this with normal cleaning products.
Then, apply the appropriate disinfectant product depending on the surface. Be sure to read the product labels to know what surfaces it can be used on.
With disinfectants, it’s important to allow it time to work. A quick swipe may not be enough, so be sure to follow the product’s directions and let the disinfectant sit for an amount of time.
Key Areas to Disinfect in your Home
Now that we’ve got our cleaning supplies in order, let’s go through the 8 key areas of focus to properly disinfect your home.
1. Regularly Touched Surfaces
It’s most important to regularly clean and disinfect all of the regularly touched surfaces within your house.
These surfaces might include doorknobs and handles, light switches, table surfaces, dining chairs, kitchen counters, bathroom counters, taps and toilet seats and handles, remote controls, game controllers, phones, etc.
Everyone’s home will be a little different, so it’s important to walk around and identify all the surface you and your family interact with. We recommend making a checklist of all these regularly touched surfaces, and then as you clean each surface you can check them off. This way you won’t miss anything.
For parent’s out there, toys will be a priority. Be sure to gather up all toys, wash them in warm soapy water, dry, and then wipe over with disinfectant.
2. Living & Common Areas
To prevent contamination of upholstery and accessories, especially if a family member becomes unwell, cover the furniture with washable sheets or blankets, and wash and change them frequently.
Be sure to remove decorative pillows or cover them with washable pillowcases.
Frequently wipe down hard surfaces such as coffee tables or side tables.
For couches and sofas, give them a good vacuum and clean as you normally would. Then use an aerosol disinfectant. For leather, you can also wipe over with a water & vinegar solution (half warm water, half vinegar) and dry thoroughly. A good dry steam clean would be ideal.
In the bedroom, sheets and pillowcases need the most attention since they are in the closest contact with the body and we spend a large majority of time touching them.
Wear rubber gloves when handling soiled laundry and keep sheets and pillowcases away from your face and body.
There’s no guideline on how often to wash your linen, however, we recommend it be done as regular as possible.
Be sure to wipe down any hard surfaces such as bedside tables, wardrobes or drawers. Especially if they are in regular contact.
If a family member does become unwell, try to opt for white 100% cotton sheets and pillowcases. These are easy to disinfect in the wash without damaging any colours or synthetic fabric blends.
Be sure to use disinfectant cleaner on all surfaces within your bathroom. Including the toilet handles, seats and lids, sinks, handles, taps, light switches, doorknobs, drawers, toothpaste tubes, toothbrushes, and all other toiletries regularly handled.
All surfaces including the tiles, baths and shower screens should also be disinfected.
Hand towels should be changed daily. If possible, switch to paper towels instead. Bath towels should also be washed as regularly as possible.
All utensils and dishes used within the kitchen should be washed at the highest heat in a dishwasher or soaked in a disinfectant solution for 10 minutes and then washed thoroughly by hand.
If possible, regularly dispose of sponges that may become contaminated. Use paper towels that can be disposed of or cloths that can be washed in hot water & disinfectant.
Tea towels should also be changed daily.
All surfaces including the tiles, cupboards, drawers, benchtops, sinks and taps should also be disinfected.
If a family member becomes unwell, be sure they are not preparing food for the rest of the family if possible.
6. Laundry & Washing Fabrics
Be sure to handle all soiled fabrics with rubber gloves and keep away from your face and body. You should be regularly washing all fabrics including clothes, pyjamas and even stuffed toys.
Always wash the items as soon as possible, and then wipe down the clothes basket after.
Fabrics should be washed using the hottest water setting, a disinfectant laundry product, and if possible, a high heat dryer cycle. Be sure to check the care labels on all items to be washed to see if they can cope with the high heat.
Bleach solutions should only be used on white fabrics. The bleach should always be diluted with water before adding it to the washing machine and should never be poured directly onto clothing. It is not suitable for use on wool, silk, spandex, or certain dyed fabrics and will cause permanent damage.
Once the laundry is finished, be sure to clean and disinfect all surfaces within the laundry. This includes floors and tiles, cupboards, drawers, benches, sinks and taps. Don’t forget the washing machine and the dryer too!
Phones, tablets should all be regularly cleaned with a disinfectant wipe. Be sure to pay attention to the screen, buttons and anywhere dirt or grime can get trapped. Remove any cases and clean underneath, put it back on, and clean the outside.
Laptops and computers screens aren’t always made of glass so try not to clean with a disinfectant wipe. If possible, use isopropyl alcohol and a soft towel. Make sure you wipe down the keyboard, trackpads, exteriors, where your wrists rest, and mousepads with a disinfectant wipe.
Don’t forget any accessories including remotes, headphones, webcams, etc.
All surfaces within your car should be disinfected. This includes the seats, steering wheel, hand brake, gear stick, inside and outside door handles, the dash, dashboard controls and buttons, keys and key fobs. Don’t forget your seat belts and clips.
If you have a child seat, wash the cover and wipe down every nook and cranny.
Remember, We’re here to help.
As we all learn to cope with the current Coronavirus pandemic, Sunkids would like to remind all within our greater community that we’re here to help you. We’ll continue to do all we can to assist our families, children and staff throughout this difficult and uncertain time, and continue to share helpful advice along the way.
Further information regarding Coronavirus
For additional information regarding Novel Coronavirus (COID-19), we encourage you to only visit trusted sources.
Queensland Department of Health – http://conditions.health.qld.gov.au/HealthCondition/condition/14/217/838/novel-coronavirus
Australian Government Department of Health – https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert
If you have concerns about your or your child’s health, speak to your doctor. If you are displaying symptoms of Coronavirus, call ahead first.
If you are having a medical emergency, please call 000