Chinese New Year 2021 COVID-19 spring cleaning

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Here’s how to deep clean your home and keep the coronavirus at bay. 

young housewife using vacuum cleaner

© primagefactory | 123rf

Celebrating Chinese New Year (CNY) is going to be a different one this year. Instead of the usual Chinese New Year reunion dinner and house visiting, the majority of us will probably have to spend Chinese New Year 2021 in the comfort of our home, thanks to the global pandemic, Covid-19. That said, spring cleaning is still a huge part of the Lunar New Year tradition and it seems like out of all the customs and traditions, this is the one of the few that we can do without risking our lives and breaching the SPO that the government has imposed after the implementation of MCO 2.o Malaysia.

Spring cleaning this year will probably take a different tone as well. While throwing out expired food and things that no longer spark joy to you is still a must, we have to take one extra step to sanitise and disinfect the home as well. Now we know that you won’t be having any friend and relatives coming to your house for visiting, it doesn’t hurt to get every surface of the house clean and clear of the coronavirus. After all, it’s always to be safe than sorry.

In this article, we’ll include important details about the coronavirus and how to disinfect your home with everyday household products like soap, bleach (like Clorox), sanitiser spray, disinfectant spray and hydrogen peroxide solution. Let’s get started!

What is the coronavirus?

WHO describes coronavirus as a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. The novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person and it was first identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019. 

What are the symptoms of COVID-19? 

The most common symptoms include: 

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Dry Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Some patients reportedly experience other symptoms such as aches, pains, nasal congestion, diarrhoea, sore throat and runny nose, but these symptoms are uncommon. 

Unlike influenza A and SARS, the symptoms develop gradually so you wouldn’t know if you’ve been affected until much later (around 14 days) when you develop those symptoms. The bright side is, according to WHO, 80% of the people recover from the infectious disease without needing any special treatment.

If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Who is at risk of COVID-19? 

Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop a serious version of this illness. 

How does COVID-19 spread? 

The disease can spread from person to person through respiratory droplets from the nose or mouth of an infected person. These droplets can land on any objects or surfaces around. If a healthy person touches these infected areas and then touches their eyes, nose or mouth without washing their hands, they’re at risk of the disease. 

You can also catch COVID-19 if you breathe in droplets of an infected person. Hence, everyone should practise social distancing and stay at least 1 metre away from an infected person. 

How can I protect myself from coronavirus?

You can start by staying aware of the latest information on the coronavirus outbreak. Remember to only get information from trusted sites like WHO and the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the national papers. Most importantly, stay cautious and don’t panic. 

You can also reduce your chances of getting infected with these preventive actions: 

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (or sing “Happy Birthday” twice. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser if soap and water are not available. 
  • Stay 1 metre (or more) away from anyone who is coughing or sneezing. 
  • Follow good respiratory hygiene — cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when you cough or sneeze. 
  • Stay home if you feel unwell. If symptoms persist, go get a Covid-test. 

Sanitise vs disinfect: What’s the difference?

You’ve probably seen the words “sanitise” and “disinfect” everywhere from Facebook posts to news report and you’re probably confused about the usage of both terms. While both terms may have a similar meaning, but they don’t actually share the same definition. To put it simply, when you sanitise, you’re only reducing the number of virus and bacteria on the surface, but when you disinfect, you destroy both bacteria and viruses. In other words, disinfecting a surface is the most effective way to kill coronavirus.

The most effective ways to kill Coronavirus in your home

One easy way to keep viruses and bacteria away is to practise good hygiene and keep the area around you clean. However, it’s important to know that not all cleaning products are equally effective for all types of germs. There are many different types of viruses and bacteria out there and we need to know what’s effective on what.

We’ve come up with a list of products that work effectively on killing viruses and a list of items that are not as effective.

1. How to wash hands

washing hand with soap and water

© staras | 123rf

Time to go back to basics and wash your hand with soap and water. It sounds bizarre, but both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) say that the most effective way to get rid of the Coronavirus is, believe it or not, hand washing. Our hands are probably one of the most vulnerable parts of our body as they’re used to touch every single item, so it’s only normal to have germs on hand. But with the proper hand washing techniques, you’ll have clean hands too. Here we detail the proper handwashing steps:

How to wash your hands properly: 

  1. Wet your hands apply a palmful of soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Don’t forget to lather between your fingers, under your nails and the backs of your hands.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Not a fan of counting? Try singing the “Happy Birthday” song twice then.
  4. Rinse your hands with clean water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel.

You should always wash your hands often, especially during these key times: 

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before and after eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage

2. Isopropyl Alcohol

hand sanitiser

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Not all alcohol solutions work, you need something with at least 70 per cent alcohol to be effective against the virus. If you find yourself in a situation where soap and water are not available, sanitise and disinfect your hands or belongings with 70 per cent isopropyl alcohol (also known as IPA alcohol or IPA chemical). So what is isopropyl alcohol? It is the most common and widely used disinfectant among medical professionals as they’re effective in killing germs. There are many isopropyl alcohol uses too, aside from sanitising your hand. If you want to clean a household item, spray the alcohol solution on the surface and let it sit for 30 seconds to disinfect. You can also use this to clean and disinfect your phone.

3. Bleach

bleach

© olegdudko | 123rf

Unsurprisingly, bleach works when it comes to disinfection. You don’t need a strong bleach like Clorox to kill the virus, a diluted bleach solution is good enough, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). You can even make your own DIY disinfectant spray or disinfectant cleaner at home. Here’s how to make your own bleach cleaner: Mix four teaspoons of bleach with one litre of water for the solution. Remember to always wear a pair of gloves when handling bleach and never mix it with anything except water.

Clean the surface with soap and water before applying the bleach solution. Let it sit for 10 minutes before wiping it off or rinsing the surface with water again.

4. Hydrogen Peroxide

hydrogen peroxide

© Noel Baebler | 123rf

Many of you may ask what is hydrogen peroxide and how effective it is when it comes to cleaning the coronavirus. It is essentially a mild antiseptic that doctors use to disinfect your skin after getting a cut, scrape or burn. There are many hydrogen peroxide (3%) uses and some of them include relieve mouth irritation, cleaning ear wax and, of course, killing the virus that causes the common cold. All you need to do is pour it in a spray bottle (undiluted) and spritz it on the surface for about one to two minutes. You don’t have to wipe it off as it will eventually decompose into oxygen and water. Now you’ve got yourself a virus-free surface. Be careful though as hydrogen peroxide may discolour certain fabrics.

Cleaning products that don’t have an effect on virus

1. Vodka

You may think that like any alcohol-based hand sanitiser, vodka would work wonders on virus as well, but unfortunately, no. Most vodka does not contain enough ethyl alcohol to kill germs. The percentage of ethyl alcohol in vodka is only 40 per cent as compared to the recommended 70 per cent.

2. White Vinegar

You’ve probably received forwarded messages about how distilled white vinegar is effective in killing viruses, but this claim is not backed by any scientific evidence and you should take this information with a grain of salt.

How to disinfect Covid-19 area

If you have a Covid-19 patient living under the same roof as you, don’t panic, aside from attending to their care (at a safe distance), you should also disinfect areas that they might have touched. Here are the steps you can take to disinfect your home:

  1. Clean dirty surfaces with soap and water to reduce the number of germs on the surface. Remember to wear disposable gloves when you’re cleaning and make sure to throw them into the bin after you’re done.
  2. Use the appropriate disinfectant product that’s effective in eradicating Covid-19. Then, follow the instruction on the label on how to clean. You’ll probably need to keep the surface wet with the disinfectant for a period of time to kill the virus.
  3. Get rid of the disposable gloves and wash your hands with soap and water.
  4. This is not a one-time job, you should continue the cleaning routine to and disinfect frequently touched surface at least once a day to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

How to disinfect Covid mask?

Cloth face masks are amazing. Not only do they help prevent droplets from spreading, but they also come in many designs to pair with your outfit. However, one problem remains. How to disinfect the mask so you can wear it again and again? Firstly, when you’re using a cloth mask, you should always have a few spare ones on standby so you don’t run out of mask during laundry day. Ideally, you should wash you cloth mask daily, you can either pop it into the washing machine or, if you’re hardworking, hand wash it. Your detergent and soap should do the trick. After washing it, make sure to dry it completely before use.

How to disinfect Covid car?

Human beings are social animals. To ask us to stay home 24/7 is near to impossible. Besides, sometimes we do need to head out to run important errands. If you’re driving, chances are you will carry some bacteria and virus with you into the car after leaving the house. For times like these, what can you do to disinfect your car? Here’s what you can do:

  1. Before you start, wind down the window and make sure the doors are open to allow ventilation. Don’t forget to wear disposable gloves while you’re at it.
  2. Let’s start with hard non-porous surfaces like the armrests, door handles, light control, air control, seat belt buckles and hard seats. Clean the area with soap and water before using any disinfectant like bleach or isopropyl alcohol. For leather and fabric seats, soap and water will do just fine. Use a cloth or a sponge to wipe down the area.
  3. It is also recommended to neutralise the air inside the car. To do this, you need sanitising sprays that contain triethylene glycol. You can either spray directly on the air vent or inside an unoccupied car with the air conditioning turned on.

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