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Everything You Should Disinfect in Your Apartment

By: Justin Chaplin
March 17, 2020

As coronavirus sweeps the world, the importance of social distancing and disinfecting is crucial to stopping its spread. But how do you know you're disinfecting properly and doing your part to stop novel coronavirus in its tracks?

The Difference Between Cleaning and Disinfecting

There's a difference between just cleaning your apartment and disinfecting it. The CDC advises that cleaning is just the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities covering a service. 

Cleaning your countertops may make them look sparkling clean and may help reduce the risk of spreading infection. However, it doesn't kill germs. 

Disinfecting uses chemicals to kill surface germs. However, it doesn't necessarily clean dirt or remove viruses. Instead, disinfecting should be used after cleaning to reduce spreading novel coronavirus and other germs.

Cleaning and disinfecting your apartment right now is crucial to staying healthy and stopping the spread of COVID-19. Research shows that novel coronavirus may remain viable for hours or days on surfaces. 

The good news is, proper cleaning can help prevent COVID-19 and other viruses to keep ourselves healthy. 

Start your disinfecting mission by focusing on frequently-touched surfaces. Those are breeding grounds for the virus.

Disinfectant Products

COVID-19 is considered an enveloped virus, like SARS-CV-2. It relies on a protective lipid coating. 

You can deactivate that coating with the right cleaners. Novel coronavirus is also easier to break down than many gastrointestinal viruses like norovirus.

Fortunately, common household products can help kill off COVID-19 and keep it from spreading. Disinfectant sprays, wipes, and bleach all make the list, but with a few caveats. Not all wipes can kill novel coronavirus. Also, many supplies are in short supply on grocery store shelves. 

The EPA provides a list of approved COVID-19 disinfectants, but it does take some cross-referencing to ensure the active ingredients are listed. 

You can also reference this cleaning list to help determine novel coronavirus killers like Clorox Disinfecting Bathroom Cleaner and Lysol Brand Bleach Multi-purpose Cleaner.

Homemade Disinfectants

What if you can't find any of the products on the shelves? The CDC has a backup solution that most people already have at home or can easily find. Mix up a quarter-cup of household chlorine bleach with one gallon of cool water. Then, let it sit for twenty or thirty minutes on surfaces before drying it and wiping it away.  

Although the stand-by bleach trick works well, it's not appropriate for every surface or room in your apartment. 

Don’t miss a spot! Use our cleaning checklist to tackle your apartment from top to bottom.

Disinfecting Your Kitchen

Your kitchen can be a hotbed of all kinds of germs. Here's where to start disinfecting:

  • Countertops 
  • Anything with handles, including oven, cabinet knobs, and the sink
  • Cutting boards
  • Floors
  • Refrigerator shelves

Kitchen spills are common and not an emergency. However, you should clean them up immediately. Otherwise, the spill could further spread viruses and contaminate other parts of your kitchen. 

The same thing goes for your dishes. Clean them immediately. Then, check to see if your dishwasher comes with a sanitized and heat setting. The more you can kill off germs, the better. 

It's impossible to know what's festering on your kitchen hand towels. If they're old, go ahead and replace them by sealing them in a Ziploc bag and throwing them away. Otherwise, regularly wash them on high heat and dry them thoroughly. 

The disinfectant journey doesn't end with the last paper towel tossed into the trash can. Take out your trash immediately and wash your hands. Then, clean out the bin, place a new trash bag inside, and rewash your hands. 

The more you can mitigate the risk of spreading germs, the better.

Disinfecting Your Bathroom

Your bathroom is the next place for thorough cleaning and disinfecting. Tackle your sink, and make sure to disinfect the fixtures and drain thoroughly. Remember to clean the areas around your sinks like the vanity, mirror, and shelves. 

Give your toilet a good scrub. Pay close attention to under the seat, around the rim, and the handle. Remember to clean the toilet handle with a disinfectant wipe regularly. Then move onto:

  • Shower and shower doors if you have them
  • Throw your bath mat and towels into the washing machine
  • Floors
  • Take out the trash and clean and disinfect your bin
  • Doorknob

Disinfecting Your Phone and Devices

When it comes to your devices, bleach is not your friend. Clorox wipes work well to disinfect your phone. Apple recommends using a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe to disinfect an iPhone and other devices. 

Before you get started, turn off your phone and other devices and unplug them. Remove your novelty case or other covering to disinfect that too. 

A thorough job is always the goal. However, be careful not to get cleaner or moisture into your device ports. Dry clean those areas with a smooth microfiber cloth that often comes with eyeglasses.

Other Things to Disinfect

Once you start disinfecting, you realize how many things you touch all day in your apartment. Take inventory of what you're touching all day, including:

  • TV Remote
  • Light switches
  • Door handles
  • All furniture handles
  • Keyboard, computer mouse, and laptop keys

Remember to also clean your own clothes, bedding, throws, and blankets. Check the care instructions and place them in the washing machine. 

If you can't wash them on your own, try to seal them in a bag away from your other belongings. That’ll help you avoid the spread of germs and viruses. Quarantining your own things and waiting for the virus to die over several days is better than doing nothing. 

Research shows that viruses like COVID-19 are viable for 2 or 3 days. However, we're still learning something new about it every day. It's best to assume anything you seal off is likely infected for a week or more.

Final Thoughts

Remember that all pandemics have come to an end and viruses do die. However, viruses of all kinds still circulate with ebbs and flows, making it important to clean and disinfect on a regular basis. When in doubt, clean, disinfect, and repeat your way through any health crisis.

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Justin is a Content Manager and contributing author at Apartment List, helping people navigate the world of renting. Justin previously spent his time earning his BBA in Marketing from Boise State University. Read More
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