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The #1 Mistake You're Making When Disinfecting

There’s a good chance you have been cleaning your house all wrong, according to one insider.
Disinfect - Woman Spraying Table Surface with Disinfectant and Wiping it with a Cloth

COVID-19 may be spread primarily person-to-person via respiratory droplets. However, due to the fact that the virus may live on surfaces for a period of time—ranging from hours to days—cleaning and disinfecting is essential. Early on in the pandemic the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended cleaning high-touch surfaces—including doors, sinks, toilets, and countertops—often. While many of us have upped our cleaning game over the last several months, one cleaning expert claims that many of us are making a massive mistake. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.

The #1 Mistake is Disinfecting Without Cleaning

In short, if you are disinfecting without cleaning, you are committing a major faux pas. "The most important step is the cleaning step," Cory Chalmers, the CEO of the professional cleaning service Steri-Clean, told Business Insider.

Chalmers, who specializes in biohazard cleaning for sites contaminated with infectious diseases, has spent the last month cleaning and sterilizing places contaminated by coronavirus, including homes, cruise ships, offices, factories, and fast-food restaurants. And, he points out that the spray-and-wipe method does not work due to the fact that contaminated surfaces are coated in clusters of biofilm, disinfectant resistant germs. In order to kill off a virus like COVID, they need to be removed first. 

"A lot of people spray a surface and then wipe it around right away," Chalmers said. "But you're not letting the disinfectant do its job."

Instead of starting with a disinfectant, he suggests putting soap on a rag or paper towel, folding it into quarters, and attacking the biofilm on the surface. Once you complete a small surface of a couple square feet, you are ready to tackle the next. But remember to flip the towel over, turn it inside out, and use the uncontaminated side to clean. 

"People sometimes will walk around the house with the same rag, cleaning all the surfaces. That doesn't do anything because now they're just spreading the germs around," Chalmers said. "Once that towel or rag that you're using is full of germs, it's not going to absorb anymore."

After the surface is clean, you can apply a disinfectant spray or wipe.

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Pay Attention to the Fine Print

Also, he suggests paying attention to the fine print. Every bottle of disinfectant is marked with a "dwell time" which tells you how long it needs to sit on a surface to effectively kill germs. 

He also urges the importance of disinfecting these types of surfaces regularly, despite the CDC's insistence that chances of contracting the virus via touch are very low. 

"When you're dealing with a new strain like this, we really don't have all the answers," he said. "I don't think we have enough factual data to know that closing up a building or an office or a room will kill that virus." As for yourself, avoid germs as much as possible and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 37 Places You're Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.