Ah, Spring has arrived, and the “fever” that comes with it means more and more of us are getting back outdoors, ready to reclaim living our best lives. It also means it’s time to get our home situations back in order, with a good solid “Spring Cleaning.” But with COVID-19 still very much in the picture, many health experts are saying the idea of spring cleaning takes on a whole new importance. To learn more, we went in search of ideas and tips on how to take advantage of the season. We’ve gathered information from the CDC, the Mayo Clinic, and several national healthcare systems and put together a spring cleaning checklist for seniors and caregivers.
For several weeks now, the CDC has been working with states and local governments to provide simple guidelines for cleaning various areas as more cities continue to reopen. Your home is no different. In a nutshell, the CDC advises a practical approach based on whether anyone in your household has been infected by COVID-19.
If no one has been sick, cleaning with a household cleaner that contains soap or detergent because it reduces the amount of germs that can survive surfaces and decreases risk of infection from surfaces.
If indeed someone has been sick in your home, you want to start by cleaning the most vulnerable areas in your home with soap and water, and then follow up with a disinfectant. It’s recommended using a disinfectant from the EPA’s list of products which are approved for killing the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) when used according to the label directions. But, if you’re not able to find a commercial disinfectant, you can make your own.
AdventHealth recommends making a solution containing at least 70% alcohol, or using a diluted bleach solution of 1/3 cup bleach with a gallon of water or 4 teaspoons of bleach in a quart of water.
If you’re wanting to avoid using harsh chemicals or you don't have access, Dr. Gregory Pollard of the Mayo Clinic claimed plain soap and water can be effective.
"Soap and water for enveloped viruses — and SARS-CoV-2 is an enveloped virus— will kill the virus or inactivate it very easily. The advantage of soap and water is you're not going to harm yourself and you're not going to discolor anything," stated Dr. Poland. "The soap molecules actually get into the lipid membrane of the virus and inactivate it. On the one hand, you're inactivating the virus and, on the other hand, physically removing it off the surface."
Before you set out to wipe everything down, think about creating a strategy. There are lots of places in our homes that are obviously in need of a good cleaning, plenty of places you might overlook, and cleaning tools you already use that can have an impact.
When it comes to a spring cleaning strategy, The Spruce suggests approaching it room by room. This will keep you on task and organized. “Create a checklist for each room and make note of the areas that need extra attention. Skip the areas you regularly clean and focus on any place you might have neglected all winter.”
Another smart strategy is to clear the clutter. There are plenty of places in our homes that we might not consider as hotbeds for germs, simply because of the amount of stuff we have. Getting rid of clutter will not only open up your home, but it will allow you to make sure such areas are accessible, clean, and safe.
While countertops and floors may be obvious areas to clean, there are some very important spots we can’t forget. “People almost always clean their floors, but they typically forget about walls and windows. Not all dust settles on the floor and other surfaces. Just use a damp towel to wipe down walls and blinds (starting from the top). Remove and wipe down the window screens outside,” wrote Slyvan in a recent blog post.
In regards to kitchens and bathrooms, Slyvan also recommends wiping down your cabinets as well as going through and wiping down shelves inside your pantry and refrigerator. Be sure to throw out old items or anything sitting around that you’re not using as germs could be attached. In the bathroom, it is recommended to replace shower curtains and clean out medicine cabinets.
You’re going to put in some solid hours planning and implementing your 2021 spring cleaning checklist, so make sure you do two things. First, be careful of moving any heavy items like boxes or furniture— if you’re a senior with reduced strength or mobility challenges, household cleaning can be quite a task. And second, turn this mission into better home cleaning habits, so that you and your loved ones are safe year round.
The CDC does make it clear that while COVID-19 is primarily spread from close contact with infected people, they think it may also spread from contaminated surfaces. So having better home cleaning habits will only benefit you by keeping those high traffic areas clean and clutter free.