Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, reducing your social interactions, wearing a mask and washing your hands is a given but so is cleaning your home — and frequently.
But according to a new survey by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it seems many do not understand safe cleaning procedures and are doing so, incorrectly. In May, the CDC polled 502 adults in the United States about their cleaning habits amid the pandemic.
Sixty percent of respondents reported how they were cleaning their homes more frequently than they had in previous months, but also, more people were also contacting poison control centers and reporting adverse health effects due to cleaners over the same period.
“Knowledge gaps were identified in several areas, including safe preparation of cleaning and disinfectant solutions, use of recommended personal protective equipment when using cleaners and disinfectants, and safe storage of hand sanitizers, cleaners, and disinfectants,” the CDC explained.
The CDC discovered that 39 percent of survey respondents reported engaging in “non-recommended high-risk practices” while cleaning in hopes to prevent coronavirus. This included “washing food products with bleach, applying household cleaning or disinfectant products to bare skin, and intentionally inhaling or ingesting these products.”
In addition, the survey also found that a majority of people knew how to wear eye protection and gloves while cleaning with dangerous chemicals but many did not know how to make a bleach solution to clean. Only 23 percent of survey participants knew only room temperature water should be used to dilute bleach while 35 percent said bleach shouldn’t be mixed with vinegar, and 58 percent knew bleach shouldn’t be mixed with ammonia.
“Similarly, 68 percent responded that hand washing was recommended after using cleaners and disinfectants and 73 percent that adequate ventilation was recommended when using these products,” the CDC wrote.
“Regarding safe storage of cleaners, disinfectants, and hand sanitizers, 79 percent of respondents said that cleaners and disinfectants should be kept out of the reach of children, and 54 percent that hand sanitizers should be kept out of the reach of children.”
The CDC recommends cleaning off any dirt or debris on surfaces before disinfecting when it comes to efficiently and safely cleaning your home.
The agency recommends creating a diluted bleach solution to infect. To do so, first adhere to all manufacturing instructions. Then, prepare a bleach solution using 1/3rd cup of bleach per gallon of room temperature water or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of room temperature water. According to the CDC, the solution will then be effective for disinfection up to 24 hours.
While cleaning, be sure to allow “contact time of at least one minute, and allowing proper ventilation during and after application,” the CDC says. And of course, “never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.” If you are still unsure, be sure to check out all the CDC’s guidelines for cleaning here.
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.