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Which cleaning products keep surfaces COVID free?

A basket of cleaning products

If you’re isolating at home with someone who has COVID and you want to reduce the risk of transmission throughout the rest of your household, a new study has confirmed which common cleaning products are most effective at keeping your surfaces SARS-CoV-2 free.

While vaccination is our best defence against severe COVID infection and hospitalisation, vaccinated people can still catch the virus, meaning actions to reduce transmission, such as mask wearing, good ventilation, hand washing, cough and sneeze etiquette and cleaning of common surfaces, are still necessary.

Research published in the journal Viruses found detergent, bleach and alcohol are all highly effective at inactivating SARS-CoV-2 on surfaces.

An earlier survey found over 80 per cent of respondents didn’t feel they knew how to disinfect their home and clean safely to prevent transmission of the virus.

So, the team tested the effectiveness of readily available cleaning products, including vinegar, bleach, dishwashing detergent and alcohol.

“Our findings show that detergent, bleach and alcohol are highly effective at making SARS-CoV-2 non-infectious, but vinegar does not work at all,” lead researcher Dr Julie McAuley says.

“To make an effective cleaning solution, it’s as simple as adding a similar amount of detergent to water as you would for your dishes (2ml in 1 litre), then wiping over the potential SARS-CoV-2 contaminated surface and allowing it to dry,” she says.

The researchers found no added benefit in combining household products and warned against mixing household cleaners.

5 ways to reduce transmission in the home

It doesn’t have to be inevitable that the whole household will contract COVID, if one member gets it. Here are five simple ways to reduce the risk of transmission at home:

1. Keep them separated

If possible, keep the infected person in a well-ventilated room away from the rest of the household, with the door shut and the windows open. If you have to share a bathroom, make sure the windows are kept open and common surfaces are cleaned often.

2. Mask up

Any time you are in the same room as a person with COVID make sure you are both wearing masks (KN95 are best).

3. Pick a caregiver

Ideally, only one person should care for the sick person.

4. Keep eating utensils separate

Assign a set of plates, cups and cutlery to be used only by the infected person. Wash them separately with detergent before putting them in the dishwasher.

5. Wash your hands

Always wash your hands after handling anything that has been handled by the infected person, as well as before eating and putting on and taking off your mask.  Make sure the patient also washes their hands before touching common surfaces such as door handles, light switches and taps.

Article sources and references

Date modified: 21 April 2022
First published: Apr 2022


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