Many common household cleaning products can kill the coronavirus if you use them properly

 

 

The coronavirus causing COVID-19 is a nasty bug, but like other members of the coronavirus family, it’s no match for good disinfecting products, health experts say.

“There are many bad things about the coronavirus, but there is one good thing: It is not very hardy,” said Dr. John Swartzberg, an expert on infectious diseases and a professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Public Health. “It is easily destroyed by most disinfectants.”

Experts at Consumer Reports, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other organizations have weighed in with advice on the products that can help protect us — and our homes — against the coronavirus.

“Regular cleaning with normal cleaning supplies does a great job of removing all kinds of germs, not just coronavirus, from surfaces,” said Catherine Roberts, associate health editor at Consumer Reports. “Focus on high-touch areas — that’s faucet handles, doorknobs, stair rails and countertops — the things that you have your hands on all the time.”

Best practice is to disinfect these surfaces several times a day. Roberts suggests making a checklist of all the places you want to clean, so you don’t forget any of them. But commercial disinfecting products contain “pretty serious chemicals,” she warned. “They're actually EPA registered pesticides, so as much as you can, try to use them when kids are not around because they can trigger asthma.”

The demand for disinfecting wipes may be outstripping supply right now, but there are many other products you can use. In fact, you may already have some of them at home.

The Environmental Protection Agency has a list of those that meet its criteria for use against the novel coronavirus. The CDC website also has recommendations for households with suspected or confirmed coronavirus cases.

Here’s what you need to know about what will and won’t work against the coronavirus — according to experts.

Soap and water
It’s not fancy, but soap and water work. The soap removes the viral particles that have attached themselves to surfaces — whether it’s your hands, face or countertops — and suspends them in the water, so they can be washed away.

Richard Sachleben, an organic chemist and a member of the American Chemical Society, said most of the cleaning products we call soap are actually detergents that not only remove the germs from surfaces, but also kill them.

“The virus has an outside coating, and the stuff inside — DNA or RNA — is what actually causes the disease. It's kind of like the casing on a bomb or torpedo,” Sachleben explained. “For a virus, that coating is a protein, and the soap or detergent break up that coating, so the virus spills its guts and falls apart.”

“Bleach is very effective at killing the coronavirus, as well as virtually every other germ on the face of the planet,” said Dr. Paul Pottinger, a professor of infectious diseases at the University of Washington Medical Center. “The problem is, it’s stinky, it’s hard to use and it can damage what you’re trying to clean.”

To protect your skin, you should wear gloves when using bleach — and don’t mix the bleach with anything but water. Here’s the CDC formula for making a diluted bleach solution: Use 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) of bleach in one gallon of water or 4 teaspoons of bleach in one quart of water.

Keep in mind that bleach is a harsh cleaner. So if you go this route, do a little test before you clean an entire surface with your homemade bleach solution. Be careful not to let it splash onto anything else. Bleach can also damage some paint, and over time, it can corrode metal. So be cautious if you use it, Sachleben told NBC News BETTER."

Disinfecting your home if someone is sick

As part of your everyday prevention actions clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects. For example: tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles. 

Clean

  • Clean surfaces using soap and water. Practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces.

High touch surfaces include:
Tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc.

 

Disinfect

 

  • Use diluted household bleach solutions if appropriate for the surface. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.

    Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.

    To make a bleach solution, mix:

    • 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water

      OR

    • 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
  • Household cleaners and disinfectants: Clean the area or item with soap and water or another detergent if it is dirty. Then, use a household disinfectant.

    Follow the instructions on the label to ensure safe and effective use of the product.

    Many products recommend:

    • Keeping the surface wet for several minutes to ensure germs are killed.
    • Precautions such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.