Keeping everyone in your home safe from pathogens is crucial today. House-cleaning routines are evolving; people everywhere are becoming aware of potential viral contamination on surfaces they might have overlooked before. If you recognize the value in learning how to disinfecting your house more thoroughly, here are 15 common household items and how to sanitize them.
How to disinfect a toothbrush
A simple way to disinfect your toothbrushes from bacteria is to rinse them with an antibacterial mouthwash. One teaspoonful of hydrogen peroxide in one cup of water makes an effective antimicrobial toothbrush rinse. You can also leave your brushes to soak overnight in a 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. Toothbrushes are generally affordable, so you can also purchase a new brush and soak it before using it for the first time.
How to disinfect a thermometer
Glass or digital, thermometers that make contact with mouths and ears need to be sanitized between uses. If you have some on hand, 70% isopropyl rubbing alcohol will work. Swab the entire device, paying attention to small gaps and crevices where pathogens tend to collect.
Handheld no-contact thermometers are increasingly popular because they eliminate the risk of transferring a sick person's germs to the person who is measuring their temperature. They use infrared waves to accurately detect temperature from a distance, so all you have to do is point the thermometer at their forehead and press the button.
How to disinfect produce
Don't be tempted to use chemicals on fruits and vegetables when you bring them home from the grocer's. According to the CDC, "soap, detergent, and commercial produce wash," aren't recommended; ingesting the chemicals they contain is harmful. The safest way to treat your produce is to rinse, refrigerate promptly, and keep raw meats separate. The CDC has more on produce safety here.
How to disinfect money
Paying with cash can cause some anxiety when you're trying to avoid virus transmission. Contactless payment is the new safe way to handle your commercial transactions.
If you can't avoid cash, it's wise to wash your hands thoroughly after handling it, since bacteria and viruses can live on the surfaces of bills and coins. Banks around the world have been disinfecting their cash reserves with ultraviolet light before putting it in circulation. Using a handheld UV-C light sanitizer is a powerful way to disinfect surfaces like cash that are incompatible with washing or wiping.
How to disinfect mail
The mail in your box can go on a convoluted journey before it reaches you, passing through multiple sets of hands. Like with money, a wipe, scrub, or spray isn't going to work on paper mail. Once again, UV-C is the right option to use on your mail, alongside your money.
How to disinfect books
Gently wipe the cover of the book with a disinfectant wipe. Chemicals and moisture are damaging to delicate paper, so don't use solutions for the pages of a book. Sanitizing individual pages with UV-C is extremely time-consuming. If you feel like making the valiant attempt, best of luck. However, when it comes to books, the best way to sanitize them is quarantine.
Pathogens don't last too long in books. American Libraries Magazine recommends archivists isolate books that may be contaminated for 24 hours to 14 days. Given enough time, your books will be safe to open again.
How to disinfect earrings
Earrings and other jewelry items need relatively frequent cleaning, especially pieces you wear all the time. Every two weeks, worn jewelry should be sanitized with rubbing alcohol. Apply rubbing alcohol directly from the bottle onto a cotton ball or Q-tip. Carefully swipe the whole surface of the jewelry. A UV-C sterilization as a follow-up never hurts.
How to disinfect a sponge
When considering how to disinfect your house, don't forget that cleaning products also need cleaning. You might have heard that submerging a kitchen sponge in boiling water for five minutes will disinfect it. Another folk remedy suggests microwaving a soaking wet sponge on high for one minute. These methods only partially work; studies have shown that some types of bacteria remain on the sponges afterward.
To be thorough, soak sponges in a solution of 3/4 cup bleach and one gallon water. To maximally ensure sanitation, use a new sponge for each cleaning session.
How to disinfect laundry
Bleach is a laundry staple, but you might not want to use it on all your laundry. White vinegar, which contains acetic acid, has anti-viral properties and won't change the color of your clothes. It's also an odor neutralizer, used by many to dispel "laundry funk." Add 1/2 cup to your laundry's spin cycle to enjoy its benefits.
If you need something more robust, look for an all-purpose disinfectant. A concentrated hospital grade disinfecting solution is a heavy-duty product that will rid your clothing of pathogens. This type of cleaner is used in classrooms, medical care centers of all kinds, and large-scale laundry facilities. It's designed to penetrate porous surfaces like the ones in your clothes.
How to disinfect shoes
If the shoes are especially dirty, first use a dry brush to sweep away mud and dirt clumps. For wiping down and scrubbing remaining dirty areas, use antibacterial dishwashing liquid and warm water, or a solution of one part vinegar, one part baking soda. The damp shoes should air dry. To penetrate those fabric pores, complete the disinfecting process by spraying the shoes with all-purpose disinfecting solution.
How to disinfect a mattress
Like laundry, mattresses are surfaces riddled with small pores, where bacteria and viruses are likely to congregate. Sanitizing mattresses is another job that requires an all-purpose hospital grade disinfectant. Nursing homes, boarding schools, and hospitals use it between uses to make sure every bed is sterile, but the mattresses in a typical home only need to be thoroughly disinfected every six months.
How to disinfect a laptop
Some chemical cleaners might contain ammonia, acetone, or peroxides, and you run the risk of permanently damaging electronic devices if you use them. It's time for the rubbing alcohol again. The CDC recommends a solution of 70% isopropyl alcohol and 30% water to swipe down your computer. Make sure electronics are switched off when you clean them; moisture can cause a short circuit if the device is left on.
How to disinfect a hardwood floor
Your floor is the largest surface in your home. Germs accumulate on hardwood floorboards or tile each time someone enters from outside. Regular disinfecting of the floor cuts down the risk of pathogen transmission. A cleaner and disinfectant concentrate is an excellent floor cleaner for hard flooring, since it's specifically formulated for non-porous surfaces. It's effective on gymnasium floors, and toilets and sinks in commercial spaces. Since it's a concentrate, use as directed. A small quantity diluted goes a long way.
How to disinfect a humidifier
After a basic disassembly (meaning the removal of the humidifier's moving components that you can easily take apart), the parts are ready to be sanitized. Hospital grade cleaner is designed for medical equipment, including humidifiers. Use it to thoroughly clean the water tank, as well as wipe down all the external and internal surfaces you're able to access. Refer to your humidifier's specific cleaning instructions to ensure a perfect cleaning.
How to disinfect the air
For disinfecting the air in any room, use a fogger. A portable fogger sprays a water-based disinfecting solution into the air, killing airborne pathogens. Foggers are another piece of cleaning equipment found in hospitals, and they're making their way into many a household's arsenal of cleaning supplies.