• COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Hygiene Tips: cleaning (2)

    Always check the latest Government Guidance

    Government guidance on staying at home and social distancing is being updated daily, so even if you have read it once, check again to stay safe. A further document has been released now for shielding very vulnerable people. My blogs are written to help you follow the advice by giving some simple and practical tips about commonly asked questions such as how to disinfect and bust the journey of the germ.

    Q. How can I keep my home safe?

    When anyone arrives home in your household, it is so important that we all wash our hands before touching anything else. So I have a post-it note next to the door to remind us all – coats off, shoes off, straight to wash our hands with soap and water, for 20 seconds and dry them, preferably without touching anything on the way.

    But of course you may have touched a few door handles and the tap. So now go back and disinfect anything you have touched. I call it tracing back over the journey of the germ. If you have touched dirty surfaces when cleaning, wash your hands again. Then if everyone has done this you can relax a bit, knowing that you have reduced the risks of bringing the virus into the home.

    Q. How and where to disinfect?

    We need to crank up the hygiene, particularly if someone in the household is ill, but how, when and where is often a bit bewildering.

    Where to disinfect?

    Frequently touched hand contact surfaces are the things to watch out for:

    • Door handles
    • Taps
    • Kettle handles
    • Cupboard doors
    • Fridge handle
    • Flush handles
    • Tables
    • Remote control
    • House phone
    • Light switches (only clean with a paper towel, don’t spray with anything)
    • Cooker knobs

    You can add to the list in your household

    What Products to use?

    Many antibacterial products also have a claim to be effective against cold and flu viruses, so it pays to read the packet. Use these where you can because they are easy to apply.

    However, you may have found that your usual products are not available at the moment in the shops, so what else can you use? Well, no need to panic! You may have just what you need in the cleaning cupboard.

    Bleach

    You have probably got a bottle of plain bleach in the house. Many people only use it neat down the drains or in the toilet, but on visibly clean surfaces it is an excellent surface disinfectant when diluted, and before steam cleaning was used for disinfecting babies’ bottles (remember Milton?). In fact Milton is still around if you don’t want to make your own solution.

    Use dilute bleach on visibly clean surfaces to disinfect

    First and foremost, this instruction for disinfection with bleach is for visibly clean surfaces such as touch points. Bleach doesn’t clean and it doesn’t work well if the surface is dirty. So visibly dirty surfaces need to be cleaned first with a detergent; one step at a time unless you have an anti-microbial spray which does the job in one go. But don’t try to mix your own combination of chemicals – it could be dangerous.

    By the way, bleach is more effective when diluted on surfaces and is less likely to cause damage. You do have to be careful because bleach of course is a powerful bleach – it does what it says on the tin! So you don’t want to splash it around on the carpet and other soft furnishings. So please use only according to the instructions on the bottle.

    Don’t confuse it with toilet cleaner – that is different. It is plain bleach you need. Of course it is a hazardous substance, so you must be very careful when using it to protect yourself, others and your surfaces.

    Read the bottle and pay attention to instructions to see if there are surfaces that may be damaged if you use it.

    As government guidance for disinfection in hotels is based on what may be a higher concentration than that given if you follow the back of a household bleach bottle for disinfection, it may pay to follow this and use a higher strength during this time as we don’t know enough about the new virus, and there has been little testing so far. However, you need to take care with soft furnishings and anything that may be damaged by bleach.

    Making a dilute bleach disinfecting solution

    Belt and braces approach

    Having consulted with colleagues at IFH about this, we have decided that the recommended household dilutions for disinfection of surfaces should be increased a bit during this time.

    For simplicity we are recommending a dilution of 40ml bleach per litre of cold water for visibly clean surfaces such as touch points.

    • I have an old, cleaned out spray bottle which I have relabelled to say it contains disinfecting bleach (very important to do this to stop confusion about what is in the bottle).
    • Put some gloves on to protect your hands from neat bleach and watch your clothes don’t get splashed or use an apron.
    • Put cold water in the bottle to a little from the top and then add the bleach. So if you have a 500ml bottle, you need 20ml of bleach which is 4 teaspoons. If you have 1L bottle, you need 40ml of bleach which is 8 teaspoons.
    • Put the lid on and there you have it – a very cheap, highly effective disinfectant.
    • You can then use the spray directly to disinfect or spray it on to a clean cloth or kitchen paper to contain the splashes. Don’t get it on your clothes or in your face. Don’t rinse off – just leave it.
    • You can use bleach to disinfect cloths once they have been washed with soapy water. Alternatively, do it the old way and put them in a pan and boil them with a bit of washing detergent, but don’t burn yourself when taking them out.
    • At the end of the day, use the contents up by pouring down the sink, drains or toilet and make a fresh batch.

    Following the manufacturer’s instructions approach

    If you would rather just follow the manufacturer’s instruction, then this is how you do it.

    For some reason the instructions for dilution are always for large quantities but on a day to day basis, you won’t need a bucket load! So, you will have to do some maths to get smaller, more manageable amounts. Here are my calculations based on recommended dilutions for my bottle of bleach.

    • For example, my bottle of bleach at time of writing says dilute 60ml bleach in 5L of water. So divide 60 by 5 and that is 12ml per Litre.
    • My bottle is 500ml or half a litre (about a pint). So I in terms of the instructions, I need 6ml of bleach to a half litre of water to fill my bottle.
    • How to measure 6ml? Well most teaspoons are about 5ml (or you may have a measuring spoon for medicines). So I will use just over 1 teaspoon.

    Safety Notes – Very important!

    • Make sure you secure the lid of chemicals and put the bottle away from children’s reach, including the diluted bleach.
    • Never mix chemicals together – clean with soapy water if you have lots of dirt, then use the diluted bleach.
    • Label the bottle you keep the bleach in so it is clear it contains bleach.
    • The bleach bottle has lots of information about how you must take care when using the bleach,
    • Test surfaces for suitablity
    • Use gloves and an apron to protect yourself when cleaning.

    Disclaimer! I am simply explaining how to follow the instructions and do the calculations. You need to make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to check surface suitability!

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