House cleaning has become something of a cultural phenomenon in recent times with so called “cleanfluencers” telling us how to scour and tidy up our homes. The arrival of coronavirus has brought a new focus on washing and disinfecting at home, as well as work. So much is still unknown about the virus that it isn’t possible to say definitively what kind of deep clean, if any, would eradicate it. However, it’s always better to take action, if only to avoid feeling helpless.
The HSE website (2.hse.ie) has plenty of information about keeping the important parts of the home clean and, in particular, the kitchen (type "clean" into the search box).
The website points out that many cleaning and disinfectant products sold in supermarkets can kill coronavirus on surfaces and recommends first cleaning the surface as usual and then using a disinfectant. It suggests paying particular attention to counters, table tops, doorknobs, bathroom fixtures, toilets and toilet handles, phones, keyboards, tablets and bedside lamps.
Here are some more cleaning tips:
1) Get rid of textile cloths, mops, tea towels and sponges. Use disposable ones instead, including good quality kitchen roll. If you're loathe to do that, at least make sure you wash the more durable kind of cloths regularly at 60 degrees. Microfibre ones are good at cleaning up and can be washed umpteen times.
2) Use detergent and hot water on countertops and focus on fixtures that get a lot of hand traffic. These include obvious ones such as toilets, sinks, taps and door handles, but also less obvious ones such as keyboards, phones, remote controls and light switches.
3) If you have them, wear disposable gloves and a plastic apron when cleaning surfaces, clothing or bedding, it says. Clean your hands after you take off the gloves and apron. Throw the gloves and cloths in a bin after you use them.
4) Floors should be washed daily, ideally. Always clean the dirtiest areas in your home last. That is, do the kitchen before the bathroom, and the sink and shower before the loo.
5) If there is risk of infection in the home, make sure everyone has their own personal hygiene items such as towels and facecloths, and don't share razors.
6) If you touch something you know is soiled, wash your hands with liquid soap and keep the infected person's clothes, sheets, pillows and linens away from the rest of the laundry to wash separately. As with towels, wash at 60 degrees or more and tumble dry clothes at as high a temperature as possible.
7) The services of good professional cleaners are rare but the Sproose platform (sproose.ie) offers a handy online option. You can simply log on and book a deep clean.
It also provides a collection laundry and dry cleaning service, if your own washing machine is straining under a heavy load right now. Of course, if you’re self-isolating, do not bring in any outside cleaners and do not send your clothes anywhere until you get the all-clear.
8) If you're doing the deep cleaning work yourself, don't forget the front door, says Sproose founder Conor Wilson. "One minute you're leaning on a rail on the Luas for balance and the next minute you're opening your front door. So remember to go back out and clean it," he says.
9) If you're in the market for soft furnishings, maybe bear in mind that this virus is likely to be with us for a while. It's a fact that might inform some of your choices. Hard surfaces are easier to keep clean than soft ones, so choose blinds over curtains and vinyl or faux leather over textile upholstery. If you're changing your flooring, there has probably never been a better time to ditch the carpet in favour of wood, lino or tiles.
10) Those with carpets might like to think about getting them professionally steam-cleaned or invest in a carpet cleaner and use a disinfectant shampoo themselves. Introducing a strict no shoes policy makes sense too if you've small kids rolling around on the floor. A hand-held steamer for any soft furnishings will freshen up the fabric.
11) But if you're looking to bring in the really big guns for even greater piece of mind, check out innovative Irish medtech company Novaerus. It has patented a plasma-based air purification system that is independently proven to kill previous coronaviruses.
Its main market is the medical sector but its solution, for which a retail price is not yet available, is a low maintenance, always-on device that requires no installation, you simply plug and play.
"It closes the loop in terms of the importance of disinfecting hands and surfaces and now, also, that crucial third element, air," says marketing executive Elizabeth Daly Ni Bhroin.
Because it is aimed at the medical sector, from hospital operating theatres to patient bedsides and GP waiting rooms, and because almost all of its sales are worldwide, it doesn’t have a retail distribution chain here yet. For that reason she suggests any householder looking to buy one of its units should contact the company directly (01-9072750 or email email@example.com).