Homes are supposed to be a safe space where people can relax. Unfortunately, people wind up bringing home the world and all its germs through exposed hands, shoes, clothing, and phones. This is all the more dangerous during the unfolding coronavirus pandemic.
The important point to note is that cleaning and disinfecting are separate things – cleaning removes dirt, food and other impurities that can contain germs, while disinfecting kills those germs.
The virus can survive on different surfaces for various lengths of time. So, even if the home looks clean, it may still harbor contaminants that could affect health.
Prof Dr Md Rafiqul Islam, head of the Department of Microbiology of Shaheed Suhrawardy Medical College, said that the best way to protect the family is to quite simply disinfect the house.
He said that the regularity of cleaning and disinfecting depends on people, particularly the situation and what is happening around them.
Rafiqul said even if no one in the household is ill, one should still clean regularly and disinfect daily as a baseline precautionary measure.
"There is a difference between cleaning and disinfecting," he said. "You should have a regular cleaning routine, which includes removing dirt and dust, and regular household cleaning products are fine for this."
He, however, suggested that families do not have to clean the whole house from top to bottom every day, but rather focus on surfaces that family members come into contact with at a high frequency.
Rafiqul suggested disinfecting doorknobs, light switches, tables, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, sinks and common surfaces with a solution of hot water and any disinfectant effective in killing the virus.
Before you disinfect anything in your house, you should wear gloves. But always wash your hands with soap and warm water after using any cleaning products.
"Having done the disinfecting, one must wash hands with soap and water," he suggested.
The microbiologist advised cleaning the area or item with soap and water or another detergent if it is dirty and then using a household disinfectant.
The kitchen, or any area where food is prepared or consumed, is one of the best places for germs to cluster. So, it is better not to use reusable grocery bags.
He suggested that personal hygiene is the best way to protect oneself and others.
"Even if we don't go outside, we should wash our hands frequently to keep ourselves safe," Rafiqul suggested.
Rafiqul suggested that it is better to discourage guests not to come to the house during this time.