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Are You Cleaning the Right Way?

BY STACEY LEASCA JUNE 19, 2020 Travel & Leisure

Staying safe from the coronavirus pandemic takes effort. It means reducing your social interactions, wearing a mask as often as possible when outside the home, washing hands more frequently, and cleaning. Lots and lots of cleaning. However, according to a new survey by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it appears people may not really understand safe cleaning procedures.

In May, the CDC polled 502 adults in the United States about their cleaning habits during the pandemic. Sixty percent of respondents said they were cleaning their homes more frequently than they had in previous months, which is most certainly a good thing. However, according to the survey’s results, more people were also calling poison control centers and reporting adverse health effects due to cleaners over the same period.

“Knowledge gaps were identified in several areas, including safe preparation of cleaning and disinfectant solutions, use of recommended personal protective equipment when using cleaners and disinfectants, and safe storage of hand sanitizers, cleaners, and disinfectants,” the CDC explained. In the findings, the CDC noted, 39 percent of survey respondents reported engaging in “non-recommended high-risk practices” while cleaning with the intent to prevent coronavirus. That included “washing food products with bleach, applying household cleaning or disinfectant products to bare skin, and intentionally inhaling or ingesting these products.”

The survey found that a majority of people knew to wear eye protection and gloves while cleaning with potentially dangerous chemicals. However, many did not know how to safely make a bleach solution to clean. In fact, just 23 percent of survey participants knew only room temperature water should be used to dilute bleach. A mere 35 percent said bleach shouldn’t be mixed with vinegar, and 58 percent knew bleach shouldn’t be mixed with ammonia.

“Similarly, 68 percent responded that hand washing was recommended after using cleaners and disinfectants and 73 percent that adequate ventilation was recommended when using these products,” the CDC wrote. “Regarding safe storage of cleaners, disinfectants, and hand sanitizers, 79 percent of respondents said that cleaners and disinfectants should be kept out of the reach of children, and 54 percent that hand sanitizers should be kept out of the reach of children.”

In order to effectively clean your home and stay safe it’s important to know exactly how to create a bleach or cleaning solution that will kill COVID-19. To properly clean, the CDC recommends cleaning off any dirt, dust, or debris on surfaces before moving on to disinfecting.

To disinfect, the government agency recommends making a diluted bleach solution. To do so, first follow all manufacturer instructions. Then, prepare a bleach solution using 1/3rd cup of bleach per gallon of room temperature water or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of room temperature water. The solution will then be effective for disinfection up to 24 hours, according to the CDC.

While cleaning, ensure a “contact time of at least one minute, and allowing proper ventilation during and after application,” the CDC says. And of course, “never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.” Still unsure? Check out all the CDC’s guidelines for cleaning here. 

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