7 tips for deep cleaning

·5-min read
Photo credit: Boris Zhitkov - Getty Images
Photo credit: Boris Zhitkov - Getty Images

Over the last 18 months, we've all become more aware of the importance of hygiene. Though lockdown restrictions have eased, the pandemic is not yet over and it's still important to wash our hands, wear a face covering and use hand sanitiser when out and about.

But what about protecting ourselves at home? Regular cleaning plays a vital role in limiting the spread of Covid-19 according to the UK government. Since lockdown ended, we're both going out more and having more people over, both of which could be bringing germs into our homes.

We've put together a guide to deep cleaning your home, with expert advice and product recommendations from the GHI.

Photo credit: Catherine Falls Commercial - Getty Images
Photo credit: Catherine Falls Commercial - Getty Images

1. Clean, then disinfect

Use a two-step method – cleaning first then disinfecting – to tackle surfaces such as kitchen counters, table tops and bathroom surfaces. To clean, either spray the surface with distilled white vinegar and then wipe down with a clean cloth or simply use a microfibre cloth with warm water, or a cleaning cloth dipped in detergent solution and wrung out fully.

To disinfect against both the original and the new strains of Covid-19, Middlesex University immunologist Dr Darshna Yagnik has the following advice: ‘The highly infectious mutant coronavirus can still be inactivated efficiently by regular disinfection using products containing at least 70% alcohol, 0.5% hydrogen peroxide or bleach (diluted to 0.1% sodium hypochlorite) using cold water.' That's around 50ml of thick household bleach diluted in just over 2 litres of water.

2. Make your disinfectant work harder!

How effective a disinfectant is at killing germs and viruses doesn’t just depend on its ingredients. The length of time it is left to work, known as ‘contact time’, also comes into play.

‘This ‘contact time’ is needed to get the most out of your disinfectant,’ explains microbiologist and author of The Germ Code, Jason Tetro. ‘Use a product that claims to kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, and ensure you leave it to work on a hard surface for at least one minute but preferably three minutes.’

3. Don’t overlook ‘high touch’ surfaces

It’s easy to remember to clean and disinfect obvious germ hotspots such as the toilet and kitchen surfaces. But other frequently touched surfaces in our homes need attention, too – think door and kettle handles, light switches and bannisters.

If using bleach, rinse the area you are cleaning after applying it, ensuring you leave it to work for at least a minute first. For obvious electrical safety reasons, you should never spray anything directly onto a light switch. Instead, make up a disinfectant solution in an old spray bottle and spray this lightly onto a microfibre cloth, then use this to wipe the switch and switch plate. Buff with a clean, soft cloth or a fine microfibre cloth for a satisfying shine.

If someone in your household has coronavirus, the NHS recommends you clean the bathroom after they've used it, if other people use that bathroom, too.

Photo credit: Richard Drury - Getty Images
Photo credit: Richard Drury - Getty Images

4. Leave your shoes by the door

Shoes don’t just carry dirt into our homes – they also have the potential to introduce germs. For this reason, it’s best to make your home a ‘shoes-free’ zone and to clean hard floors regularly, says Verity Mann, ‘Start by vacuuming or sweeping hard floors to get rid of loose dirt then mop with a warm solution of disinfectant,’ she advises. ‘Take care not to over-wet laminate flooring as this could cause it to warp.’

GHI Tip: If you have vinyl flooring, it’s best to follow the manufacturer’s cleaning advice, which may recommend using a specialist product or avoiding some cleaners altogether. If you don’t, you risk invalidating any warranty the flooring is covered by.

5. Pay attention to shared devices

You may not think about cleaning your laptop and phone regularly, but as we use these devices often, they can accrue a lot of germs.

Tech that’s used by the whole family, such as the home phone, remote controls, computer keyboards and games console controllers, may also be microbe-magnets. To clean them, start by removing dust with a soft cloth, then use a microfibre cloth sprayed lightly with water to wipe away grime, followed by a clean cloth spritzed with a disinfectant solution to get rid of germs and viruses. A cotton bud can be handy to clean the small areas between buttons.

6. Clean cleaning cloths thoroughly

When it comes to hygienic cleaning, a ‘one cloth fits all’ approach is no good. If you use cloths and sponges to clean, switching to a clean one when you finish cleaning one surface and before you move on to another will help stop the spread of bacteria and viruses.

If you use microfibre cleaning cloths, manufacturers such as e-Cloth say that rinsing them regularly and thoroughly under warm, running water while you clean is enough to get rid of almost all the bacteria that may have built up in the cloth. In theory, this should mean you can carry on using the same cloth for longer before switching to a clean one. We wouldn’t recommend using the same cloth in different rooms, though, and e-Cloth doesn’t make any claims about how effective its cloths are at tackling viruses.

Microfibre cloths will clean most effectively when you use them with warm or hot water (this helps open out the fibres) and when you fold the cloth into a pad, which helps the cloth make the best possible contact with the surface you’re cleaning. Microfibre cloths will still need machine washing at the highest temperature possible after you finish cleaning, just like other cloths.

7. Use steam power

Steam is a great ally when it comes to killing germs, and can help lift dirt and grime at the same time. Steam cleaners can be used on a range of waterproof, sealed surfaces around the home – so not wooden floorboards, for instance – and with the right attachments they can also be used to clean ovens and hobs, too. Again, if you have vinyl flooring, check the flooring manufacturer’s guidance first.

Photo credit: Johner Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: Johner Images - Getty Images

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