Woman carrying bucket with cleaning supplies

To protect against COVID-19, we should clean surfaces in our homes and other facilities frequently.

There is a difference between cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing. These three words are not necessarily interchangeable, especially during a pandemic.

Cleaning entails using soap and water to remove — but maybe not kill — germs and dirt.

Disinfecting involves using chemicals to kill germs you are trying to avoid.

Sanitizing is cleaning and/or disinfecting to reduce the amount of germs on a surface or object.

Learn how COVID spreads and what you can do to protect yourself and others.

How Long Does the Coronavirus Last on Surfaces?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides detailed information on how long the virus that causes COVID-19 lasts on different surfaces. (It is important to note that the risk for COVID-19 infection from surface transmission is considered to be low.)

How to Disinfect For COVID

Maintaining safe, effective cleaning habits helps keep harmful viruses or bacteria off surfaces. The CDC offers great tips for cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing practices.

Cleaning Surfaces in Your Home

If there is someone in your home who has COVID-19, you want to go beyond a light cleaning. You should regularly disinfect frequently touched surfaces in your home, including:

  • Countertops
  • Rails
  • Tables
  • Backs of chairs
  • Light switches
  • Faucets
  • Toilets
  • Refrigerator doors
  • Doorknobs
  • Remote controls

You should sanitize these areas several times each day.

Cleaning Your Electronic Devices

Germs through which COVID-19 can be spread can live on our phones, tablets, computers and televisions, so it is good to clean these kinds of devices regularly.

You can find cleaning recommendations on the official websites of electronic device manufacturers. For example, Samsung list steps on how to clean certain areas of phones, tablets and smart watches. Apple also provides specific ways to keep all Apple products clean.

Sanitizing Laundry

If you are caring for someone with coronavirus, take extra care precautions when handling laundry.

  • Immediately remove and wash clothes or bedding that have blood, stool or body fluids on them.
  • Wear disposable gloves while handling soiled items, and keep the items away from your body.
  • Clean your hands (with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer) immediately after removing your gloves.
  • Follow directions on labels of washable items and detergent products. In general, use a normal laundry detergent according to washing machine instructions and dry thoroughly using the warmest temperatures recommended on the labels of clothing and linens.

Updated 1/4/2023

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