< Hygiene

COVID-19: How to improve the hygiene of its environment?

Text updated on 2020-05-20

The virus is invisible. Have you identified all its hiding places? Dislodge it by washing or disinfecting!

In order not to bring back the coronavirus agent of COVID-19 to your home, here are some simple hygiene tips to follow.

As SARS-CoV-2 is an "enveloped" virus, it is fragile and unable to survive in the environment for long. Let's take advantage of this opportunity to eliminate it from our homes by following the same rules of hygiene that apply to many diseases:

  1. Provisions brought into the dwelling: Wash your hands after unpacking and discarding the day's groceries (see scenario Going to a store).
  2. Digital: Mobile phones, remote controls, computer keyboards, and mice. These objects, handled very frequently, can be disinfected with wipes soaked in 70% alcohol (do not use a hydro-alcoholic solution containing hydrogen peroxide and glycerine, or bleach).
  3. Fresh produce: unless, if possible, they are cooked, it is advisable to wash with water and then rinse fruits and vegetables thoroughly. This general hygiene advice is valid even outside the pandemic.
  4. Pets: The COVID-19 is a recent illness. Current evidence suggests that cats and dogs can get the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus but cannot transmit it to humans. On the other hand, ferrets or mink can transmit the COVID-19 to humans. See the question Coronaviruses and animals: what are the risks of contamination and transmission of the COVID-19 depending on the species?
  5. Shoes: leave them at the entrance.

Remember: it is not the environment that is primarily responsible for the spread of the virus, but contact between people.

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Near a patient COVID-19 in Singapore who had a cough and a mild form of the disease, the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus was found in significant quantities on the following items: stethoscope, toilet bowl, light switches, bed edge, chair, door handle, sink, window. The most heavily contaminated area was the area near the bed.

Ong, S. W. X., Tan, Y. K., Chia, P. Y., Lee, T. H., Ng, O. T., Wong, M. S. Y., & Marimuthu, K. (2020). Air, surface environmental, and personal protective equipment contamination by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) from a symptomatic patient. Jama.

In a hospital in China, SARS-CoV-2 was found in significant quantities on shoe soles and on the floor. It is not known whether these viral particles were infectious. It is advisable to leave your shoes at the entrance to your home.

Guo, Z. D., Wang, Z. Y., Zhang, S. F., Li, X., Li, L., Li, C., ... & Zhang, M. Y. (2020). Aerosol and surface distribution of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 in hospital wards, Wuhan, China, 2020. Emerging infectious diseases, 26(7).

An article summarizing information on coronavirus resistance and effective antiseptics.

Geller, C., Varbanov, M., & Duval, R. E. (2012). Human coronaviruses: insights into environmental resistance and its influence on the development of new antiseptic strategies. Viruses, 4(11), 3044-3068.

Stability and methods for inactivation of coronaviruses.

Kampf et al, J Hosp Infect. 2020 Mar 104(3):246-251. Persistence of coronaviruses on inanimate surfaces and their inactivation with biocidal agents.

Further reading

What do the abbreviations COVID, SARS, CoV, RNA, etc. mean?

How long is the coronavirus infectious?

How do you wash your hands?

Why put on a mask?

How do you put on and take off your mask?

Can SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus be caught by eating?

How long is a person contagious?

Can a person without symptoms infect others?

What can I do to help stop COVID-19?