Clean and disinfect your home

To make your home as safe as possible from bacteria and viruses that cause people to be sick, you need to both clean and disinfect. These guidelines are good practices at all times.

Use disinfectant

Routine cleaning removes dirt, soil, grease and other impurities from surfaces in your home. But when you clean with soap or detergent alone you will not destroy harmful bacteria or viruses. To kill bacteria and viruses, you must use disinfectant.

Which products to use

The easiest and fastest way to clean and disinfect your home is to choose a product that does both those things. There are many products that contain both a cleaner and disinfectant.

Products should contain the following in sufficient quantities to kill 99.99% of bacteria and viruses that are harmful to people:

  • sodium hypochlorite:
  • quaternary ammonium: or
  • hydrogen peroxide.

Read the label of the cleaner or disinfectant you plan to use to ensure it has:

  • a Drug Identification Number (DIN): and
  • a virucidal claim.

Follow the instructions on the label.

An alternative to choosing a product that both cleans and disinfects is to take both of these steps:

1. Clean with a soap or detergent.

2. Use a disinfectant on the surfaces where bacteria or viruses are most likely to be found.

Another way to disinfect is to use a bleach water solution.

Preparing disinfectant

An easy way to prepare a bleach disinfectant solution is to mix 1 part bleach to 50 parts water. For example, 20 millilitres of bleach in 1,000 millilitres of water.

It's better to prepare a solution with the disinfectant, dip your cloth or sponge into the solution then wipe it onto the surfaces you want to disinfect.

Do not mix cleaning agents and cleaners with sanitizers 

This may create adverse chemical reactions. An example of this is mixing vinegar with bleach which creates a potentially lethal chlorine gas.

Read Health Canada’s List of disinfectants for use against COVID-19.

Wear gloves

  • Always wear rubber gloves when you're handling disinfectants.

  • Clean your hands immediately after you take off the gloves.

  • Wear disposable gloves when you clean and disinfect surfaces; and
  • discard the gloves after each cleaning.
  • If you use reusable gloves:
    • only use them for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces for COVID-19: and
    • do not use them for other purposes.

What to disinfect 

People often clean their home on a regular schedule. To help prevent the spread of respiratory infections maintain your cleaning schedule and add a disinfection step if you are not already using a product that both cleans and disinfects.

Pay the most attention to the areas where viruses and bacteria are likely to be found.

Regularly clean and disinfect:

  • sinks;
  • toilets;
  • showers;
  • bathtubs; and
  • laundry machines.

Also clean and disinfect places and objects that people touch often such as:

  • kitchen countertops;
  • bathroom counter tops;
  • hand rails;
  • bedside tables;
  • toys;
  • door knobs;
  • phones;
  • light switches;
  • soap dispensers;
  • toilet handles;
  • paper towel dispensers;
  • computer "mice" and keyboards;
  • remote controls and other electronic equipment; and
  • kitchen, coffee and end tables.

Also frequently disinfect equipment or fixtures that are often touched or handled if:

  • someone in your home is sick; or
  • you're doing something that requires extra cleaning such as preparing and cooking a turkey.

Also clean and disinfect more frequently if you:

  • have young children;
  • work in a job where you're exposed to a lot of people who may be ill, such as a doctor’s office; or
  • are in regular, close contact with the public.

Cleaning tips

  • When in doubt, disinfect.
  • Use a broom or vacuum to remove dirt and debris from floors and stairs.
  • Wet mop floors and stairs as needed; disinfect floors regularly.
  • Take care of mop heads by cleaning the mop heads after every use. Rinse them with clear water and let them dry.
  • Disinfect commonly used fixtures and equipment often or when they're visibly soiled.
  • Clean and disinfect other fixtures, furniture and equipment regularly.
  • Disinfect waste baskets.

Protect your belongings

Spraying products may damage expensive furniture or equipment, such as computers.

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products; and
  • consider using wipeable covers for electronics.

If manufacturer guidance is not available, consider using alcohol-based wipes or spray containing at least 60% alcohol to disinfect touch screens.

Dry surfaces thoroughly to avoid the pooling of liquids. Some cleaning products will damage surfaces – when in doubt, check with a janitorial supply store.

Extra precautions to take if someone in your home is sick

  • Line the garbage bin used by the sick person with a plastic bag so you do not need to touch the contents. The ideal garbage bin has a foot pedal, so you do not need to touch the garbage to put something in the bin or take out the bag.
  • Clean and disinfect doorknobs, light switches and other hard surfaces that are frequently touched by an ill person at least once a day to help prevent spread of the illness to other members of your home.
  • As much as possible, an ill person should stay in a separate, dedicated room and away from other people in the home.
  • When you're handling dirty laundry, do not shake it. This will minimize the possibility of dispersing virus into the air. Launder items on warmest water setting possible for the items and dry completely. Clean and disinfect dirty clothes hampers or use a bag liner that's disposable or 
  • Always clean your hands thoroughly after you remove your gloves and after contact with an ill person. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.

Keep these guidelines

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