How to use natural cleaning and disinfecting products during the coronavirus pandemic, while still following guidelines from the CDC, WHO, and Health Canada.
Please note that the advice in this post is exclusively for use in your home. And further, only if your family members are non-vulnerable, meaning they are not elderly, immune-compromised, or have any preexisting health conditions that would put them at greater risk of infection. In these cases, you should strictly follow the advice of your family doctor.
Are you looking for natural cleaning and disinfecting products to protect your home against the new coronavirus, while still following recommendations from the CDC, WHO and Health Canada?
While these organizations recommend using alcohol and bleach-based products to disinfect surfaces against coronavirus, they can be hard to find in stores these days.
And for those of us who would prefer a more natural approach, some of these products can also be irritating and can lead to other health issues.
So today, I’m sharing some homemade cleaning and disinfecting products you can use to safely protect your home during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The cool thing is some of the products on those lists use a little known, yet widely available, ingredient that you might already have in your home!
But first…not all cleaning and disinfecting products will work against coronavirus
I’ve seen some confusing and sometimes false information floating around about this topic, so let’s set the record straight before we go any further.
- Vinegar is not enough to kill coronavirus.
- Essential oils have not been tested against coronavirus.
- Witch hazel and vodka do not have enough alcohol content to be effective against coronavirus.
Although these three products have their place and are great at various cleaning and disinfecting jobs, the fact still remains that when we’re talking about coronavirus, and specifically COVID-19, none of them are recommended by any of the top health organizations.
So if you can’t use vinegar or essential oils to kill this virus, what are some safer and natural disinfectants that you can use to protect your home?
Or maybe you’re fine with using the standard cleaning and disinfecting products at the store, but the shelves are empty and you’re looking for other options?
Either way, you’re in the right place. 🙂
Here’s the good news about cleaning and disinfecting for coronavirus
Coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, is fairly easy to inactivate and remove from surfaces.
So we just have to make sure we’re cleaning and disinfecting properly in order to get it under control in our homes.
But don’t disinfect until…
Before you even think about disinfecting anything, you have to make sure that you’ve cleaned the area first. That goes for your hands, the kitchen counters, door knobs, bathroom surfaces…anything.
A CDC guide for cleaning and disinfecting during this pandemic states: “Cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in households and community settings.”
Why clean first?
Here’s a simple explanation of the difference between cleaning and disinfecting (also straight from the CDC guide):
- Cleaning: removes germs, but does not necessarily kill them.
- Disinfecting: kills germs, but does not necessarily remove them.
So here’s the caveat. We want to remove germs as much as we can, and then kill what’s left behind (or really, inactivate, since the virus isn’t actually alive).
By cleaning surfaces first, we can immediately lower the risk of infection. Then when we disinfect afterwards, we can further lower that risk even more.
It’s the perfect one-two punch.
Soap and water is your first line of defence
It’s the oldest and most sound piece of advice, but in times of distress and panic we sometimes need a little reminder.
Need to wash your hands? Or clean your kitchen counters? Or wipe down those door knobs or bathroom surfaces?
The advice is always the same: plain soap, water, and some friction.
Some more good news for cleaning and disinfecting against coronavirus
Coronaviruses are structurally quite weak; they are essentially a ball of protein, surrounded by a layer of fat.
So when we clean a surface with soap, the soap molecules wedge themselves into that layer of fat and tear it apart. Then the ball of protein ruptures and spills out, which destabilizes the virus and renders it useless.
All of that from a simple bar (or bottle) of soap!
Here’s a great visual from The New York Times to help drive this point home:
Alright, I hope we’re now on the same page about the importance and necessity of reaching for soap — first and foremost — in our fight against the coronavirus (and any other viruses, for that matter).
Now let’s look at some natural cleaners and disinfectants to protect your home from this virus.
All that talk about the importance of soap brings me to some basic soap-based cleaners: hand soap and all-purpose cleaner. I’ve also included a recipe for hand sanitizer for those times when soap and water aren’t readily available.
Every sink in my house has a bottle of this DIY foaming hand soap. It’s filled with castile soap and distilled water, and it’s the quickest and easiest DIY product you’ll ever make.
Check out the video above to see just how easy it is. Or you can go straight to the recipe post here.
Next is my super easy and quick all-purpose cleaner, also made with castile soap and distilled water. I use this to clean every surface in my home (except glass/windows), and now during this virus I’m also using it to clean our bi-weekly grocery haul as well (although so far, there has been no documented cases of the virus being transmitted through food or food packaging).
I literally just spray the packages with this cleaner and scrub them with a wash cloth before putting them in the fridge or pantry. Though I’ll admit that I’ve become more lax about this in recent days.
You can check out the video above, or go straight to the recipe post here.
Note: These are NOT disinfecting wipes (I have another post specifically for disinfecting in the next section on disinfectants below)
These homemade cleaning wipes are based off of the all-purpose cleaning spray mentioned above, so they’re soap-based and great for quick clean-ups around the house.
Remember, your first line of defence is always soap! But there are times when you’re out of the house and don’t have easy access to soap and water. In those times, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer is totally acceptable to use, and then as soon as you can get to a sink, wash up again with soap and water.
If you can’t find hand sanitizer at the store, you can easily make your own with isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol and aloe vera gel. Just make sure to follow the recipe exactly as stated in order for your final product to have the minimum recommended 60% alcohol content recommended by the WHO.
Here’s the full recipe instructions.
The CDC and Health Canada have released complete lists of specific recommended products which can be found here: CDC (via the EPA), and Health Canada.
Many of these products contain hydrogen peroxide as the active ingredient – which is great news! Because hydrogen peroxide is an excellent disinfectant; it’s safe to use on hard surfaces and it breaks down into just oxygen and water. It doesn’t get any better than that.
Peroxide Spray Disinfectant
So how do you use hydrogen peroxide to disinfect surfaces? Easy — just attach a spray nozzle to the brown bottle, spray it on surfaces, and let it air dry.
Here’s my full post on how, when, and where to use hydrogen peroxide to disinfect most surfaces in your home.
Hydrogen peroxide will also work for a homemade disinfecting wipes recipe. Just make sure you use a dark, opaque container to store them in so the peroxide doesn’t break down (when exposed to light or heat).
Cleaning and Disinfecting Against Coronavirus Is Simple If It’s Done Right
And there you have it! Some of the simple DIY cleaning and disinfecting products you can use right now to protect your home during this coronavirus pandemic.
Please remember that the advice in this post is exclusively for use in your home. And further, only if your family members are non-vulnerable, meaning they are not elderly, immune-compromised, or have any preexisting health conditions that would put them at greater risk of infection. In these cases, you should strictly follow the advice of your family doctor.
If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below.
Stay safe and healthy!
Amy @ End of Lease Cleaning Canberra
Thanks for mentioning the precautions regarding covid -19. I believe this article comes handy for all.
Thank you for talking about this. Now there is such a period in world history that we are all under stress. I understand that many people are afraid about their health and life in general. In this regard, I have more fears for the life of my beloved, since she has poor health, and I have minor health problems. Therefore, we are now making every effort to avoid contracting this virus, and disinfection is one of the lines of defense. Thank you for sharing what will actually be effective in the current situation.
You’re very welcome, happy to help!