Being stuck at home during the quarantine doesn’t have to be a bummer. It could actually be a much-needed release to the pressure valves we all can feel at work. Some social distancing from co-workers could be a relief!

But at home, you don’t get the benefit of a janitorial crew to clean up after you. You have to think about your new office a little differently than you might think about your old house. Here are a few tips for blending home and office with a stop-the-virus mindset.

Everyone knows to wash their hands and don’t touch their faces (doesn’t that make you HAVE to touch your face now?), and keep 6 feet between you and others. But all viruses are a little sticky. Keeping the surfaces sanitized is important.

Smart Surfaces:

  • Doorknobs! Everyone touches doorknobs every time they move through the room. I counted 24 doorknobs in my little 3-bedroom house between closets and bathrooms and pantry doors. You can’t throw those in the spin cycle so you have to hit them with sanitizing wipes or Windex and paper towels. Every day. Yes, both the inside and the outside. And get those faucet handles and light switches while you’re at it.
  • Declutter Surfaces: I’m not judging, I promise. It is a lot easier to wipe down surfaces with sanitizing wipes every day when they aren’t covered with bills and lunchboxes and dirty dishes. The trick is finding places for all that other stuff. Once you do, then wiping down surfaces every afternoon is really easy and efficient.
    • Remember, COVID-19 is transmitted through the water droplets from sneezing and coughing. That means the droplets travel around the room and through a ventilation system to settle on surfaces you didn’t necessarily touch. All the surfaces all around the house need sanitizing, even if you didn’t spend a lot of time there today.
  • Electronics collect germs too: Best to not put your tablet under the faucet for a good wash! Use EPA-registered disinfecting wipe and leave to dry. When cleaning electronics, be gentle with touchscreens.
    • Sanitize your computer’s keyboard by using a disinfectant wipe or a soft, linen-free cloth dipped in isopropyl alcohol. Rub the cloth or wipe on the top and sides of each key and then clean the surface and bottom of the keyboard thoroughly. Use a new disinfectant wipe or cloth to clean the mouse.

Smart Stations:

  • Hand Washing Stations need soap and hot water. If you have access to soap, you don’t need hand sanitizer, so don’t waste the sanitizer on post-potty business. Hot water and liquid soap with the “Happy Birthday” song will keep your in-place residents perfectly clean. Add a stack of hand towels that you plan to change out daily to reduce lingering risk. Did I mention the hamper? Get those grubby towels out of the system easily.
  • In From the Outside Stations: You will need to go out for groceries or other public settings. When you come back from these public places, wash up before you really enter the house. Set a bottle of sanitizer and maybe laundry bags by your entrances. My husband keeps sanitizer in the car so he can clean off grocery store germs before he reaches the house. Some of us with higher exposures like nurses or even delivery people might want to take the clothes off in the doorway and stash those in the laundry bag before entering.

Cleaning Isn’t Quite Enough:

Cleaning is for removing dust and dirt from your house to somewhere else like the trash or drain. Cleaning can remove the germs, but it can’t get all of them and it can’t kill them. Soap and water with rags, mops, brooms, etc. It’s a key first step in disinfecting, but cleaning isn’t the whole story when you’re trying to kill a virus.

Disinfecting specifically kills the viruses or bacteria or fungi on your surfaces. CDC has a really helpful page describing all the ways to disinfect your surfaces and soft items. I like that it includes soft things like couch cushions and laundry as well as managing food and trash if you have a sick person at home. Bleach is a good ally in slowing down any virus. To make a bleach solution, mix:

  • 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water OR
  • 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water

Or use alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol.

Be aware that disinfectants have expiration dates. If you’re using something old, it might not be effective against COVID-19.

Good luck out there. Share your suggestions and good tactics for keeping your new office clean and virus-free without a janitor.

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