Stores are running out of hand-sanitizing gels and chlorine wipes due to panic-buying. It may have you feeling alarmed about how to protect your family at home as the novel coronavirus spreads. Luckily, plain old hand soap will go a long way.
Stephen Thomas, M.D., chief of infectious diseases and director of global health at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, said it is not possible to disinfect every surface you touch throughout your day, so your best bet is hand-washing. "The planet is covered with bacteria and viruses, and we're constantly in contact with these surfaces, so hand-washing is still your best defense against COVID-19."
In areas hardest hit by COVID-19, trucks were spraying streets and a group of sanitation workers was wearing backpack tanks fogging sidewalks, plazas, and parks in China, Italy, South Korea, and elsewhere.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread most commonly through invisible respiratory droplets sent into the air when a person coughs or sneezes. Those droplets can then be contracted by nearby people inhaling them or land on surfaces that others can touch, who can then get infected when they touch their nose, eyes, or mouth.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, this coronavirus strain (like other coronaviruses) is actually easy to kill out in the open. "Coronaviruses are enveloped viruses, meaning they are one of the easiest types of viruses to kill with the appropriate disinfectant product."
If convenient products run out in your favorite store due to stockpiling, you may already have cleaning products that can help combat this coronavirus right in your home.
You may try shopping early in the morning (6 AM to 8 AM) because the shelves are regularly restocked overnight. Here are the household products that can destroy coronavirus:
1. Soap and water. Washing and scrubbing with soap and water can break the coronavirus' protective envelope. Richard Sachleben, an organic chemist, suggested to "scrub like you've got sticky stuff on the surface and you really need to get it off."
2. Bleach solutions and alcohol solutions. Diluted household bleach solutions and alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol can help combat the virus that causes COVID-19. To make this solution, mix 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water, or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water.
Alcohol is typically effective against the coronavirus but it can cause discoloration to some plastic.
4. Vodka. This is cascading in social media as the best product to use because of the alcohol content that it has.
5. Disinfectants.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend cleaning and wiping down frequently touched surfaces with a disinfectant. Do this every day during the cold and flu season to reduce the risk of contracting the infection.
Thomas warns against making your own hand sanitizer. "People don't know the right ratios to use, and the internet won't give you the right answer," he points out. "Not only can you hurt yourself, but it could give you a false sense of security."
The virus hangs on in the air for up to 3 hours and 2 to 3 days on plastic surfaces and stainless steel. Meanwhile, the CDC said there is no confirmation that it spreads through swimming pools, hot tubs or drinking water.
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