Tips on housecleaning from viral experts during COVID-19 crisis

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Expert tips on housecleaning during COVID-19 crisis
WATCH ABOVE: If you were a clean freak before this pandemic, there's a good chance you're even more so now. A lot of families wonder how much they actually need to clean to protect themselves from COVID-19. Laurel Gregory went to a pathogen-fighting power couple for tips – Apr 28, 2020

From the large spotless windows of the backyard sun room to the tidy, organized garage, David Evans and Mary Hitt’s home is impeccably clean. The couple jokes, you can blame it on the day job. Evans, a virologist, is researching COVID-19 contamination and vaccination. Hitt researches how to develop viruses that will replicate and kill cancerous tumours without harming normal cells.

“I should say we’re pretty clean here anyways,” Hitt said.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the couple is putting more effort into scrubbing their home. They have some basic cleaning tips for Canadians, with the exception of those who work in heath care or have a health condition that impairs their immune system.

Disinfect high touch areas

With Evans going to the lab for work, the couple ensures they wipe down high-touch areas such as door knobs, light switches, and the flush lever on the toilet on a daily basis.

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“Particularly if you go out and you might be in public and touching surfaces, that’s the potential for transmitting the virus onto your hands and then on to something like a light fixture,” Evans says.

“Same thing in the kitchen: the faucets, hot water taps,” Hitt says. “If you move your faucet around a little bit, if it’s got a sprayer on it or something like that you might want to think about washing that off. Especially if you’ve just come in from shopping.”

Click to play video: 'Should we clean our smartphones during the coronavirus outbreak?'
Should we clean our smartphones during the coronavirus outbreak?

The couple also disinfects their cell phones, which are touched frequently inside and outside the home.

READ MORE: How to clean to fight COVID-19? Vinegar won’t work, University of Alberta expert says

Cleaning Groceries

The couple has established a whole new rigmarole around unpacking groceries. They wash their produce in warm water with mild dish soap, washing their hands approximately five times when going back and forth from bags to clean produce. They also allow packaged or boxed items to sit idle for a couple days before touching them.

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“Realistically, left for a day or two, that box – if it was contaminated – it is going to be pretty much sterile,” Evans says. “So if you’re really worried about it, put it in a room or a cupboard and leave it.”


Hitt washes bathroom hand towels and kitchen towels daily. While she doesn’t clean the floors any more than she used to, she says, “If we had little ones crawling around on the floor or putting their hands on the floor, I absolutely would be washing the floor more often.”

Evans added cleaning can be an important step to protecting you in your home, but viruses are much more fragile than people imagine.

“My sister suggested the analogy of: it’s like paint,” Evans says. “In order to have the paint damage your clothing or something like that, it’s got to get on it, spread it around, it has to still be fresh. Once it starts to dry out it’s pretty harmless and if you get it on your old work clothes it doesn’t really matter. The virus is the same sort of thing. You’ve got to get a fresh supply of the virus probably right into your mouth or your eyes.”

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The couple says that’s why cleaning is valuable but only one step to staying healthy. The most important measure Canadians can take happens outside the doors of their home: staying six feet from others.

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