The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Americans to make some rapid adjustments to their lifestyles. Almost overnight, people are self-isolating and practicing social distancing as much as possible — and almost everyone has become acquainted with the need to wash their hands constantly.
But social distancing and handwashing aren’t the only things you need to be doing. Since the coronavirus can live for up to 24 hours on porous surfaces like cardboard and on metal for up to three full days, it’s time to add a few extra steps into your cleaning routine for safety’s sake.
Here are some tips that can help keep you and your family protected during those times when absolute isolation isn’t possible. Grab the isopropyl alcohol-based cleaners you have, and make sure that you don’t forget to clean the following objects:
When You Get a Delivery
Plastic, paper and cardboard all have to be wiped down, no matter what’s being delivered to your home.
- Wipe down the outside of any groceries. Pay particular attention to packages of cereal, rice and other non-perishable items, but don’t forget your soda, milk and juice bottles either.
- Wipe the outside of any delivery boxes that hold food. While delivery is considered reasonably safe (and is a necessity for many older people and those with disabilities), the outside of your food containers should be sanitized before you open them.
- Wipe off packages and envelopes. You can eliminate germs and reduce your chances of contagion simply by gently swiping over your mail with your cleaner.
- Clean the doorknobs, door frame and mailbox. If there’s a possibility that the delivery driver or mail person touched a surface, it should be wiped down.
Remember, even if you see your delivery person wearing gloves, any surface that they touch needs to be sanitized later. Gloves help protect the person wearing them from picking up the coronavirus; they don’t stop its spread from one surface to the next.
When You Have to Go out in Your Car
At some point, even the most ardent of social distancers will have to make a grocery run, pick up a prescription or head out for an essential appointment. It’s wise to remember that your car isn’t any kind of “safe” zone from the virus.
When you get in your car after being out, you still need to follow some safety routines to best protect yourself from accidentally picking up the virus and carrying it home again.
Make sure that you:
- Remove any plastic gloves you may be wearing and throw them out. Then immediately clean your hands with sanitizer that you keep in the car.
- Wipe down all of your basic controls. This includes the steering wheel, the knob that controls your lights, the handle for your turn signal, your radio knob and your gear shift or brake lever.
- Wipe off your keys and your key ring. You should wipe these before they go into your pocket or purse and again if you handled them between hand washes.
- Wipe down the handle on your car door. Don’t forget any passenger doors that were used and your trunk or hatchback door. Make sure you also clean the inside armrests.
- Don’t forget to wipe down your seat belt and its buckle. The seat belts and buckles of any of your companions, plus car seats, should also be wiped down.
Cleaning the touchscreens on your vehicle’s radio, clock, guidance system and other electronics you may have touched is also important — just make sure that you don’t use an ammonia-based cleaner when you do it. That can damage the anti-fingerprint and anti-glare coatings on sensitive items.
When You Go in and out of a Store
Right now, it can be nerve-racking going in and out of a store. You can reduce your reason to be afraid, however, simply by exercising restraint (don’t touch anything you don’t have to touch) and running through a quick cleaning routine with your alcohol-based wipes.
- Wipe down your keys before you put them into your pocket or purse.
- Avoid using cash as much as possible, since paper money and change can be notoriously germy, anyhow.
- Wipe down the handle and sides of any basket or cart that you use while shopping.
- Use “tap-to-pay” options with your card (which don’t require a signature) as much as possible.
- Wipe your credit card down with a soft, microfiber cloth that’s been lightly treated with isopropyl alcohol.
Again, your operating rule should be “if it gets touched, it gets wiped down” as much as possible during this time.
When You’re Handling Electronics
Your phone, tablet and computer are pretty essential items, particularly while everyone is working and communicating from home. You don’t want to run the risk that the virus will get transferred among your family members through the use of shared electronics.
Unless the manufacturer’s guidelines for a specific device are different, you can use an alcohol-based wipe or spray to clean the surfaces of most electronics. Don’t forget keyboards, charging cords and touch screens. Let the surfaces dry again before using them.
A couple things that need special attention are your remotes and any game controllers. These tend to be handled by every member in the household regularly, including children — so they shouldn’t be neglected.
During this troubled time, we want everyone to stay as safe as possible. These extra steps can help keep you healthy until the danger is past.