Daily reported cases of Covid-19 are rising in near half the U.S. states and more than 200,000 people in the U.S. and more than a million in the world have died from Covid-19. Nevertheless, people are filtering back into restaurants for indoor dining and into places like museums (at reduced capacity).
Regardless of how much you plan to take advantage of opening shops, bars, restaurants, and parks, you should continue social distancing, using a mask when near others outside your home, and maintaining good cleaning habits. The SARS-CoV-2 virus—the coronavirus that causes the disease Covid-19—isn’t going away anytime soon. Cleaning and sanitizing surfaces in your home can help lower the chances you or a loved one will contract Covid-19 and lower the chances you might spread it to someone else.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends we all take steps to clean and sanitize high-touch surfaces in our homes. Below, we get into the weeds of how long the virus might last on surfaces, which disinfectants may kill it, and the steps you should take to keep clean.
Updated for October: We’ve updated our guide to reflect the growing scientific consensus that SARS-Cov-2 is less likely to spread by surface contamination than once thought earlier this year. We’ve included revised advice from the USPS regarding mail and packages, touched on the different risks levels of gathering indoors compared to outdoors, adding a link to guidelines for creating a social bubble, and clarified which areas and belongings should still be disinfected.
Wash and Moisturize Your Hands
Wash your hands after you cough, sneeze, touch your face, use the restroom, or are about to leave one place for another. You should wash your hands when you leave and return from the grocery store, for instance. Picking up SARS-Cov-2 by touching surfaces isn’t as much of a threat as we once worried it was, but it’s still a risk.
Hand sanitizer is a fast cleaning method that works wonders. (Here’s how to make your own.) It’s no substitute for washing your hands, though. Soap and water won’t necessarily kill all pathogens, but it will wash them off. The World Health Organization has detailed instructions on how to properly perform the 20-second hand wash.
Moisturizing your hands is also important. Dry, cracked skin is at greater risk for all kinds of infections, so apply a little moisturizer after you wash. It’s nice! Most moisturizing lotions have similar ingredients, starting with water and glycerin, so the brand doesn’t really matter. (Here are some hand lotions on Amazon.) If your hands are extra dry, look for something dermatologist-recommended with an “intensive” label, like Eucerin Advanced Repair, Neutrogena Hydro Boost, or Neutrogena Norwegian Formula.
Stay home if you can, even if you’re not sick. Being in large crowds or going out to restaurants poses unnecessary risks not just to yourself but to the people around you. The more you’re in public, the more chances the novel coronavirus has to hitch a ride on your hands, clothes, or person. Millions of people are very vulnerable to this virus. Putting yourself at risk also puts them at risk.