How to ‘Quaranclean’ Your Home (Without Losing Your Sanity)
A few months ago, getting the house clean didn’t seem like such a big deal. Vacuum the rugs, scrub the tub and toilets, make sure there are no Cheerios hiding under the couch and you’re basically good to go. But now that our homes have turned into makeshift offices, gyms, playgrounds, restaurants and bars, keeping things clean has suddenly become a Herculean task. Plus, keeping the house sanitized and germ-free is more important than ever—especially when a disinfected light switch could mean the difference between staying healthy and getting sick.
How do you tackle this seemingly insurmountable task, especially when you’re busy and stressed? Take a deep breath and do one thing at a time. We’ve tapped cleaning experts and the CDC to help you “quaranclean” your home…and actually, sort of enjoy it. (Note: These are best practices as defined by the pros, so if you don't have the time or energy to sanitize your light switches every single day, that is totally OK. Just do what you can.)
Kitchen and Dining Room
Once a Day: High-use surfaces like counters, doorknobs, fridge and sink handles, hard-backed chairs, tables and light switches should be disinfected daily, advises Neha Vyas, MD, of the Cleveland Clinic. The best disinfectant for most hard surfaces? "As an enveloped virus, COVID-19 is relatively easy to kill," says Jim Epstein, CEO of cleaning product manufacturer Intercon Chemical Company and Clearly Better Solutions. "The key considerations in selecting a disinfectant are how quickly it will kill the virus, and how safe is it to use around people, pets, food and surfaces. Be sure you read labels and select a product that is safe, effective, fast and people-friendly." Our pick? Isopropyl alcohol of at least 70 percent by volume. (If you’re all out, don’t sweat it—check out this comprehensive list of effective cleaning products to kill the coronavirus published by the Environmental Protection Agency, suggests Stew Lawrence, CEO of CleanWell. Any of them will do, as long as you follow the directions.)
Once a Week: Wipe down the inside of your fridge with disinfectant, as well as appliances like toasters, microwaves and coffee makers. Mop the floor with a 1/3 cup of bleach per gallon to disinfect it, according to the CDC, but be careful if you have asthma or another breathing condition. “If your asthma is triggered by bleach or cleaning products you may need to wear a mask when cleaning or have someone in your home help you so your asthma doesn’t trigger,” notes Dr. Purvi Parikh, allergist with Allergy & Asthma Network.
Once a Month: Disinfect your entire windows and doors—as opposed to handles and knobs—whenever they seem dirty. And yep, Windex does kill the coronavirus, according to the EPA’s list. Just make sure to leave the spray on the surface for five minutes or longer before wiping it away.
Once a Day: Use a disinfecting wipe (like Clorox, Seventh Generation or isopropyl alcohol wipes) to quickly clean sink handles, doorknobs, light switches and the toilet handle. If someone in the house is sick with COVID-19 and the bathroom is shared with other members of the household, it should be thoroughly disinfected after every use, says the CDC.
Once a Week: Mix a bleach solution (see above) and use it to clean the floor, bathtub and sink, and wipe the mirror with an EPA-approved glass cleaner, like Windex.
Once a Month: Disinfect your entire windows and doors—as opposed to handles and knobs—whenever they seem dirty.
Once a Day: Use a disinfecting wipe (like Clorox or isopropyl alcohol wipes) to clean the remote control, all light switches and doorknobs. Before you go to bed every night, give the coffee table a quick wipe too.
Once a Week: “Places that are touched less frequently, including windowsills, should be wiped down with a disinfectant spray or wipe at least once a week,” says Lawrence. Vacuum the rugs, sweep and mop the floors, and wipe down the TV, as well as any electronics and bookshelves.
Once a Month: While COVID-19 won’t be lurking between your couch cushions, cracker crumbs might, so vacuum your couch, armchairs and anything else upholstered.
Once a Day: Use a disinfecting wipe (like Clorox or isopropyl alcohol wipes) to clean the light switches and doorknobs. Don’t forget the little switch knobs on lamps, like the one on your nightstand.
Once a Week: Wash your bedding in hot water to kill dust mites, which can aggravate allergies, Dr. Parikh says. Vacuum the rugs, sweep and mop the floors and wipe down bookshelves and nightstands with isopropyl alcohol or another EPA-approved disinfectant.
Once a Month: Wash your mattress cover and duvet covers with hot water to kill dust mites, and wipe down any windows and doors when they seem dirty.
Once a Day: Use a disinfecting wipe (like Clorox or isopropyl alcohol wipes) to clean the light switches and doorknobs. Baby toys and other items that frequently end up in your kid’s mouth should be disinfected as much as possible using hot water and dish soap, like Dapple. Pop any dishwasher-safe toys or pacifiers in the dishwasher.
Once a Week: Wash bedding in hot water, vacuum the rugs and mop the floors with a bleach solution (see above). Wipe down board books with soap and water or undiluted hydrogen peroxide. Clean less frequently used toys with soap and water.
Once a Month: Wash the mattress cover and duvet covers in hot water. Wipe down all windows and doors with isopropyl alcohol or another EPA-approved disinfectant.
Once a Day: Anything you touch on a regular basis should be wiped down with isopropyl alcohol or other disinfecting wipes at least once a day. That includes your cell phone, tablet and computer keyboard, as well as the light switches and doorknob.
Once a Week: Wipe your computer screen with screen-cleaning wipes. Disinfect the desk, bookshelves and filing cabinets, then clean the floors with a bleach solution. Vacuum any rugs.
Once a Month: Clean windows and doors with isopropyl alcohol when they are dirty.
Odds and Ends
Once a Day: Wash fabric masks with hot water in the washing machine after every use. Leave your shoes outside whenever possible. Wipe anything else you touched when you were outside with disinfecting wipes (like Clorox or isopropyl alcohol wipes), including your keys, wallet and purse.
Once a Week: Stick any coats, sweatshirts, scarves and sweaters that were worn outside in the washing machine and wash them in hot water.
Once a Month: Did you know that washing the inside of your washing machine is a thing? Lysol Laundry Sanitizer will do the job, or you could just bleach some t-shirts.