Non-Toxic Disinfecting Tips for Coronavirus

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April 7, 2020

Updated 10/30/20

My full-time job lately is Household Disinfector (is that even a word?). I feel like lately I’ve gotten a Master’s degree in domestic engineering with a minor in Disinfecting Studies. Anyone else? While I’ve felt confident about how to clean with safer products, learning how to disinfect for the Coronavirus and COVID-19 was a whole new thing to me.

Can’t get your hands on bleach or Lysol? That’s ok. There is (one) surprising good thing about this virus – it’s an “envelope” protein, meaning that it’s considered relatively easy to break down.

It also means that there are things that are probably in your home right now that you can use to clean and disinfect against the coronavirus. Not only that, some of the disinfectants recommended to fight the coronavirus are actually harmful to respiratory health (among other issues), which is something we definitely don’t want to mess with right now!

Side note: if you have been using bleach and Lysol, no worries! There will be no judgement here. My anxiety went through the roof when we returned from 4 days at Disney last month, and I was ready to reach for anything that would kill the virus. I couldn’t get any, so I got a little creative and felt better when I found out that regular household items are just as effective.

After combing through countless info and checking the legitimacy of these tips through studies, here are my 7 simple tips for cleaning and disinfecting against the coronavirus:

  1. Wash hands with plain soap and water. Believe it or not, regular soap and water is THE BEST defense against Coronavirus. Why? Because it is considered to be an “envelope” protein, which is actually considered to be somewhat easy to break down. The fatty-like components of soap help to break down the fatty lipids in the outer covering of the virus.

How to do it: Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds – that ensures you’re foaming up, which will destroy the virus’ protective coating. And you can use regular soap; antibacterial soap isn’t necessary (and often contains undesirable ingredients) because antibacterial soap attacks bacteria, not viruses. Here is a great video from Dr. Oz on how to properly wash your hands.

My favorite hand soap: Vermont Soap Organic Foaming Hand Soap

2. Use hand sanitizer correctly. Using hand sanitizer is convenient, but is not the best option – hand washing is still the best defense. But if hand washing isn’t an option, use hand sanitizer.

*It’s best to wash hands first because the sanitizer works best on clean, non-greasy hands.*

How to do it:

Spray or pour a generous amount on your hands and rub hands and finger tips together until dry.

3. Clean dirty surfaces first before disinfecting. Dirt and grime can hide on dirty surfaces and can reduce the effectiveness of the disinfectant.

How to do it:

Clean surfaces first with an all-purpose cleaner or plain soap and water (with some good elbow grease behind it, especially on surfaces like countertops), and then disinfect.

4. Disinfect surfaces. Again, this virus is relatively easy to kill, so there are some simple things that will work to kill Coronavirus, and to disinfect.

How to do it:

After cleaning, use any of the following to disinfect:

  • Hydrogen Peroxide (look for 3% on the label) – after cleaning surface, spray hydrogen peroxide on surface and let sit for at least 10 minutes before wiping away.
    • Don’t use on fabrics, as it can discolor certain materials
  • Rubbing alcohol – use at least 70% and let sit for five minutes.
    • can discolor some plastics, and can damage some finishes on wooden furniture
  • Electrolyzed water – tap water that has been converted into hypochlorous acid and sodium hydroxide: a non-toxic cleaner and disinfectant. It’s also on the EPA’s list of disinfectants for use against the Coronavirus. I recommend Force of Nature.

*Note: When using hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol be sure to leave them for the recommended times to let them do their job. Same thing if you’re using bleach or Lysol: read the label to find out how long to leave it on the surface to do its disinfecting.

5. Disinfect high-touch areas several times a day. This includes door knobs/handles, faucets, sinks, tables, light switches, cabinet  and drawer handles. refrigerator handle countertops, remote controls, cell phones, tablets, etc.

How to do it:

First make sure surfaces are clean and not visibly dirty. If using hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol, pour them into a spray bottle (or you can also keep them in their same bottles and most pumps from other cleaning items will fit – just remove the cap and screw the spray pump on). Spray onto surfaces and let the disinfectant sit (always use in an inconspicuous spot first to make sure no discoloration will occur).

Viruses can live on surfaces that are steel or plastic for up to 72 hours, so clean these areas often.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, here is how long the coronavirus can live on surfaces:

Steel – up to 72 hrs (door knobs/handles, appliances & handles, railings)

Plastic – up to 72 hrs (shopping cart handles, light switches, grocery cart handles, takeout containers)

Cardboard – up to 24 hrs (packages and takeout containers)

6. Use heat with your appliances. Heat is thought to kill the coronavirus at temperatures above 170 degrees Fahrenheit.

How to do it:

  • Wash your clothes in the warmest/hottest setting recommended for your clothing, and dry completely.
  • Wash dishes in the hottest water possible, but optimally, use a dishwasher if possible because it can wash dishes and steam them. Handwashing in hot water may not be hot enough to actually kill the virus.
  • Use a floor, household or handheld steamer to steam items such as curtains, mattresses, couches, and other surfaces where you can’t spray disinfectants.

7. Open windows. The virus can last in the air for up to 3 hours, so the CDC recommends opening windows to increase air circulation in the area.

How to do it:

Open windows as often as possible to bring in fresh air. If you’re at work or in a public place, such as a meeting room at work, this is especially important. The CDC recommends opening windows at home, in the office, and when using public or shared transportation.



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Hidden Toxins: How to Find Cancer-Causing Chemicals in Your Personal Care Products

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