BayCare Physician Offers Advice on How to Kill Germs in Your Home

March 31, 2020

If your whole family is cooped up in the house under a “safer at home” mandate because of the novel coronavirus outbreak, you may be worried that germs could proliferate inside and make your family sick.

Dr. Jackie Cawley, vice president and chief medical officer for BayCare Ambulatory Care and Clinical Integration, has some ideas about how to fight back.

First, she suggests checking out the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s List N, a list of more than 300 household and commercial cleaners that meet the EPA’s criteria for use against the novel coronavirus also known as SARS-CoV-2.

What you won’t find on the list are gentle “green” products that don’t contain strong disinfectants.

“Green products that some people buy because they consider them safer really don’t work well in this situation,” Dr. Cawley said.

Once you have picked your cleaners from the list and have read the label directions, it’s time to get to work. Experts believe that the novel coronavirus can survive for up to six days on hard surfaces. Dr. Cawley recommends wiping down hard surfaces such as your kitchen and bathroom countertops with one of the approved cleaners, sprays or disinfectant wipes.

In addition, thoroughly clean high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, refrigerator and oven door handles, faucet handles, cabinet doorknobs, and the buttons on stoves, washing machines and dryers. And be sure to wipe down your phone, which is one of the most germ-laden items we touch frequently.

Dr. Cawley recommends cleaning these surfaces every couple of days – daily if someone in your household is ill. You won’t kill every germ, but what matters, she said, is reducing the “viral load.”

“We know that the more virus you are exposed to, the more likely you are to get sick,” she said.

What about the soft surfaces in your home, such as that comfy couch that faces the television? You can’t wash the couch, but fortunately, the coronavirus doesn’t survive as long on soft surfaces.

If you regularly clean hard and high-touch surfaces, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds throughout the day, cover coughs and sneezes with your arm or a tissue, and practice social distancing, you and your family stand a better chance of avoiding illness.

For more information, visit the CDC website here