Environmental Engineer, and founder of Green at Home, Emma Rohmann offers her advice on how you can continue to clean naturally at home.
Are you cleaning your home differently since the start of the pandemic? Maybe you’ve spent extra time searching for disinfectant sprays and wipes, only to find empty shelves and long delivery times. Well, if you’re trying to figure out what you can do to clean your home these days, I’ve got some good news for you.
In this blog I’m going to share why specialty disinfectants aren’t needed for regular cleaning, and what you can use instead.
Does Plain Soap Works Against Coronavirus?
If there’s anything positive about this virus, it’s that it’s got a fatty outer layer that breaks apart when mixed with soapy water. This means that the coronavirus is destroyed by plain old soap - no special antibacterial products necessary (yay!).
Health department guidelines suggest disinfecting high-touch surfaces and more regular disinfecting if you suspect exposure to covid or if someone is ill. However, for most homes soap should be sufficient to clean surfaces.
Note that if you are disinfecting, always follow the instructions on the package. For example, disinfection should be done after cleaning with soap for maximum efficacy.
And remember: maintaining physical distance, washing hands for 20 seconds with soap and water, and not touching your face are the first lines of defense against contracting the virus.
What about Groceries, Packages, and Clothing?
There have been a lot of videos and posts going around about the “best” way to disinfect everything from groceries and mail, and how to strip down and wash clothes when you come back from being out in public. And while some are done by people who look like experts… not everyone with a medical or science background is necessarily an expert in virus transmission.
Credible sources (i.e. infectious disease experts) that agree the virus isn’t spreading through the food supply chain and suggest going to these extra lengths isn’t necessary. (You can read more here, here, and here if you’re skeptical.)
You should still wash fresh produce as you would normally though to remove residues (soap isn’t recommended as it can leave a residue that isn’t meant to be ingested).
Natural Cleaners That Work
Hopefully this information helps put your mind at ease at least a little bit! Now you know what you don’t have to clean with, but what about what you should clean with?
Conventional cleaners typically contain ingredients that can contribute to asthma or allergies, hormone disruption, and poor indoor air quality. A recent study showed that children who grew up in homes with fragranced cleaners and room fresheners were more likely to develop asthma by the age of 3.
Because of the long-term impacts of many common ingredients, I’m a big advocate for cleaning with natural cleaners. The easiest, most cost effective cleaners I’ve found are homemade. And trust me when I say easy - I’m not typically into DIY.
You can find my recipes here.
They use simple ingredients but note that I don’t advocate using vinegar and water as an all-purpose cleaner. Soap is required to clean dirt (and vinegar isn’t effective on viruses the way you’d use it as a spray), so that’s what I recommend. My favourite is Green Beaver castile soap - it’s concentrated, so a little goes a long way!
If you want a fun activity with your kids, I’ve got a virtual workshop available where I send you a list of all the ingredients and supplies needed, then you can watch and make the products along with me and my kids! Learn more here.
Helping Kids Stay Clean
When it comes to young kids, I think the best thing we can do is not panic. We can help them understand that washing hands is the best way to stop them from getting sick - and connecting the dots about why being sick is no fun in an age appropriate way.
Playing in the dirt is an important part of being a kid and can ultimately help their immune systems. So I encourage you to get outside as best you can while maintaining distance.
And as always, work with them to get into the habit of washing hands as soon as they come inside and before eating. To help, you can wash hands with them, and singing Happy Birthday twice is about the 20 seconds recommended by health officials.
Whether you’re maintaining your normal cleaning routine or doubling down your efforts, I hope this helps you do it while keeping your sanity intact.
About the Author
Emma is an environmental engineer, mom of 2, and founder of Green at Home. She helps moms and moms-to-be reduce toxins at home without overwhelm, a lifestyle overhaul, or spending time and money on stuff that doesn't work. Emma is a David Suzuki Foundation Queen of Green Coach, a guest lecturer at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, and holds a certificate in Environmental Health from the University of Arizona. Learn more at www.greenathome.ca.