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Cleaning is Not Enough

Denice Sy

There’s a heightened awareness for staying clean and hygienic with the spread of COVID-19 across the nation. We are all encouraged to stay home to avoid catching the virus, but that also means we should also be more intentional in ensuring our homes are properly disinfected. Here’s some basic information to keep the household virus-free.

1. Regular soap is enough.

The World Health Organization recommends singing “Happy Birthday” twice when washing your hands. Enough soap must be used to cover the hand surface, interlacing fingers to make sure all areas are washed. Dry hands with single use tissue or towel, and turn off faucet with the same towel.

As long as the correct hand washing technique is applied, the type of soap used would not be as relevant. Dr. Andrew Pavia, chief and division of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Utah, shares that regular soap is enough. “You don’t need antibacterial or antiseptic soap to remove COVID-19 from your skin.”

2. Clean, then disinfect.

Cleaning regularly touched items will lessen the possibility of the virus transferring from objects to our hands and body, but there’s a difference between cleaning and disinfecting. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cleaning involves the removal of dirt and germs, but not necessarily kills. While cleaning helps prevent the further spread of infection, disinfecting should also be done by using chemicals to eliminate germs on objects and surfaces.

These household objects include tables, chairs, doorknobs, light switches, remotes, handles, desks, toilets, sinks, among others. Floors are also necessary to take note of, especially if outdoor shoes aren’t removed upon entry. This increases risk of bringing in bacteria and viruses from the outside. Clean these with detergent or soap prior to disinfection. Ensure protective gear, such as rubber gloves, is worn when disinfecting with bleach solutions and alcohol solutions. Wash hands immediately afterward.


3. Don’t use vinegar as a natural disinfectant.

Vinegar has not been proven to be an effective disinfectant. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a list of accredited disinfectant products that they vouch for, and vinegar was not recommended for use.

4. Personal and work items should be sanitized often.

These include cellular phones, power banks, cash, car keys, wallets, ID cards, hand bags, and work items such as laptops, keyboards, and remote control. Always have alcohol solution available to wipe these items frequently throughout the day—as often as we wash our hands.

A study made by microbiologist, Charles Gerba of University of Arizona, found out that our mobile phones contain more than 10 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. Mostly because toilets are cleaned frequently while we overlook the need to sanitize our electronics.

To clean our cellphones properly without damaging the screen’s coating, Apple suggests applying alcohol wipes, while Samsung proposes use of a soft damp microfiber cloth. Avoid getting moisture in the speaker or charging ports.

5. Soft porous materials need a different approach for disinfecting.

There are antibacterial sprays that can be used for sanitizing soft porous items. But generally, the Boston Public Health Commission urges placing these materials into a bag, then to launder using hot water and hydrogen peroxide-based bleach to effectively disinfect things like carpets, rugs, towels, beddings, and stuffed toys. These must be dried on high heat and not hung dry.

6. Never mix cleaning chemicals together.

It’s never a good idea to mix cleaning chemicals in an effort to disinfect better, because it doesn’t work that way. The Occupational Safety and Health Council of Hong Kong states that doing so may lead to extremely hazardous outcomes such as explosions, toxic gases, among other violent reactions.

7. Finally, keep pets and children away during the cleaning and disinfection process.

Kids and pets should not have any contact with disinfected surfaces until it’s dried to avoid dangerous consequences from touching chemicals that may irritate or burn the skin.

For more information on how to clean and disinfect against COVID-19, visit credible online sources such as CDC, WHO, US EPA, or consult your doctors.

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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