Cleaning, hygiene tips to tackle Covid-19 at home

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EDITOR — Cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces in your home regularly is an important precaution to lower the risk of infection.

Follow cleaning product instructions for safe and effective use, including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation.

Some national authorities have made lists of recommended products for use against the Covid-19 virus.

High-touch surfaces to clean and disinfect

Every home is different, but common high-touch surfaces include: Door handles, tables, chairs, handrails, kitchen and bathroom surfaces, taps, toilets, light switches, mobile phones, computers, tablets, keyboards, remote controls, game controllers and favourite toys.

What to use to clean and disinfect

If a surface is dirty, first clean it with soap or detergent and water. Then use a disinfectant product containing alcohol (of around 70 percent) or bleach. Vinegar and other natural products are not recommended.
In many places it can be difficult to find disinfectant sprays and wipes. In such cases, continue to clean with soap and water. Diluted household bleach solutions may also be used on some surfaces.

How to disinfect

It’s important not to wipe cleaning solutions off as soon as you’ve applied it to a surface. Many disinfectant products, such as wipes and sprays, need to stay wet on a surface for several minutes in order to be effective.
Always read the directions to make sure you’re using the products as recommended and to avoid damaging sensitive items such as mobile phones and other electronic devices. Consider using wipeable covers for electronics.

It is currently unclear how long the Covid-19 virus can survive on fabric, but many items of clothing have plastic and metal elements on which it might live for a few hours to several days.

Exercise caution and common sense. Good practices to consider include removing your shoes when you enter your home and changing into clean clothes when you return home after being in crowded places, and washing your hands with soap and water immediately afterwards.

Doing laundry at home

Clean bed sheets, towels and clothes regularly.
Don’t shake dirty laundry to minimise the possibility of dispersing the virus through the air.
Launder items with soap or detergent, using the warmest appropriate water setting and dry items completely — both steps help to kill the virus.

Wash your hands with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand rub, immediately afterwards.
Wash or disinfect your laundry bag and hamper as well. Consider storing laundry in disposable bags.

Doing laundry outside your home

If you need to use laundry facilities outside of your home, take sensible precautions:
Prepare laundry before leaving your home to help minimise the amount of time you spend outside.
Try to go at a time when there are fewer people.
Maintain physical distance to other people.

Wear disposable gloves if available, disinfect the surfaces of all machines you use and don’t touch your face.
For indoor laundry facilities, wait outside for your laundry to finish if you can.
Fold your laundry at home.

If you don’t have access to laundry facilities, hand wash your clothes at home with soap or detergent and the warmest appropriate water.

While at present there is no evidence of people catching the Covid-19 virus from food or food packaging, it may be possible that people can become infected by touching a surface or object contaminated by the virus and then touching their face.

The greater risk comes from being in close contact with other people while outside food shopping or receiving a food delivery (as receiving any delivery in areas with local transmission).

As always, good hygiene is important when handling food to prevent any food-borne illnesses.

Food packaging and handling precautions

— Remove any unnecessary packaging and dispose into a waste bin with a lid.
— Remove food from take-out containers, place on a clean plate and dispose of the container.
— Packaging like cans can be wiped clean with a disinfectant before being opened or stored.
— Wash unpackaged produce, such as fruit and vegetables under running water.

UNICEF

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