Any soap will work on your hands, but in order to sanitize surfaces—like countertops or doorknobs—the CDC recommends using soap and water followed by a disinfectant. The soap and water washes away dirt and grime, which can make some disinfectants less effective. Then, you need the disinfectant to kill any remaining virus particles that the soap didn’t get.
If someone in your home is sick with (or potentially sick with) COVID-19, they should stay in a separate room as much as possible. If they have to share certain spaces with healthy people—like a bathroom or kitchen—then those spaces should be cleaned at least daily. Whenever possible, have the person who is sick clean the shared room after they use it. This prevents unnecessary contact between healthy people and infected surfaces.
You should use disinfectants from the EPA-approved list. Follow label instructions for safe, effective use, and give special attention to contact time because it tells you how long the disinfectant needs to do its job. Importantly, contact time varies by disinfectant. For example, Lysol® Brand All Purpose Cleaner needs 2 minutes to kill human coronaviruses. You will find contact time on the product’s label and on the EPA’s list.
During the contact time period, the surface you’re cleaning should look visibly wet; this will help to ensure that you’re using enough disinfectant to kill the virus. After you give your disinfectant enough contact time, you can wipe the surface dry or let it air dry.
Last updated: April 14, 2020, 9:30 am
Science review: JAB, ERS