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The novel coronavirus is officially in Maine. As Mainers prepare for social distancing, self-isolation or self-quarantine, the stock of cleaning supplies at grocery stores, big box stores or any store, has been dwindling. Fortunately, many cleaners can be made at home with items you may already have.
The Centers for Disease Control recommend regularly cleaning the surfaces of your house to prevent its spread because evidence suggests that novel coronavirus may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials.
The CDC emphasizes that “cleaning” and “disinfecting” are two different processes. “Cleaning” refers to the removal of germs, dirt and impurities from surfaces, which helps to reduce their spread, while “disinfecting” uses chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. High-touch surfaces such as toilets, door knobs, remote controls, light switches and tables should be both cleaned and disinfected to maximize effectiveness.
If you cannot find store bought cleaning products, you should neither panic nor let your house devolve into a quarantined bacterial mess. Here is a roundup of simple natural, DIY and upcycling tips to keep your house clean if your favorite cleaning products are out of stock.
Homemade hand sanitizer
According to the CDC, The best way to prevent the illness is to avoid exposure and to take everyday preventive actions to help spread the disease, including washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, the CDC recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer continuing at least 60 percent alcohol.
Ever since the CDC released this advisory, there has been a rush on hand sanitizers with some retail locations selling out. Here’s how to make homemade hand sanitizer with ingredients available around your house or at any conventional drug store or big box store. When followed exactly, this recipe produces a hand sanitizer with 60.66 percent alcohol content and meets the CDC recommendation of a sanitizer of at least 60 percent alcohol content.
Natural home cleaners
Ingredients such as baking soda, white vinegar, essential oils and natural soaps can be used to create effective cleaning solutions. Make sure you mix them properly and use them on the right surfaces, though. For example, while white vinegar is a great ingredient to use in cleaning, it should not be used on granite or tile because its acidity can eat away at those materials over time. Also, it’s best to combine vinegar with other simple ingredients if you truly want it to clean a surface. Vinegar, for example, acts as a mild disinfectant and actually cleans surfaces without the addition of dish soap. Here’s how to make natural all-purpose cleaners with simple household ingredients.
Fruit and vegetable wash
Grocery stores — especially communal produce bins — can be rife with contaminants. Aside from making sure you are grocery shopping well during the coronavirus, you could take extra precautions by washing your fruits and vegetables in a disinfecting wash. Here’s how to make your own produce wash from white vinegar, water and lemon.
Make homemade dish soap
Washing dishes may not be the No. 1 thing on your mind right, but it is important to keep your house clean as possible. Plus, you don’t want those dishes piling up if self-isolation and self-quarantine measures stretch on for weeks. Here’s how to make homemade dish soap, as well as more recipes for homemade dish soap from around the web.
Upcycle cleaning supplies
There are many things around the house that can be used for cleaning if you cannot go out or the stores are out of supplies. For example, you can upcycle old T-shirts to use as cleaning rags. Used sponges can be saved for dirtier jobs, such as cleaning bathrooms. Coffee grounds are great natural abrasives and odor absorbers, while tea bags can be used to clean carpets, neutralize odors and degrease dirty dishes. Mesh produce bags can be compiled into scrubby sponges. Wire hanger can be used as drain snakes in a pinch, while orphaned socks can be repurposed as makeshift Swiffer pads.
Put hydrogen peroxide to use
Once again, cleaning is not the same as disinfecting. The CDC recommends preparing a diluted bleach solution with 5 tablespoons bleach per gallon of water for disinfection. After cleaning high-touch surfaces, disinfect them with diluted household bleach solutions or alcohol solutions with at least 70 percent alcohol. Wear gloves, check the expiration dates and follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation.
Hydrogen peroxide, however, will not only remove mold and mildew, but it can be used as a disinfectant in a pinch. Hydrogen peroxide oxidizes compounds that are common in organic life, which disinfects surfaces in almost every room of the house, from the bathroom and the kitchen to the laundry room. Here is what you need to know about cleaning with hydrogen peroxide.
Watch: What you need to know about handwashing during coronavirus