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Cleaning Tips

Wow, have things changed. A couple of nights ago, instead of gathering together with my friends, we met up in a virtual happy hour!

Beverage in hand, plus my own little appetizer, we discussed all things social distancing related! What we were making for dinner, who in their family was whining the most, the online yoga class or hilarious dance class they followed, which Broadway show was so much fun to watch etc… One friend mentioned she was busier now more than ever with all the free offerings she wanted to take advantage of online. We hooted and howled when one pal mentioned she was taking an Introduction to Italian Opera course though Dartmouth, not only because she was interested, but because she would always be able to casually slip into conversation…”When I took Italian opera at Dartmouth…” I loved that we were able to relax, share and even laugh about our current predicaments.

My friends have always been there to offer emotional support and advice, and now is no different. We all want each other to stay healthy, so the exchange of ideas and information was really great.

I’m sharing some of the best ideas and tips I heard from my pals in the next few posts.

First up: Cleaning tips

Right now I’m a little consumed with cleaning, and rightly so. There isn’t enough information to support the length of time Covid-19 is communicable in our bodies, on our clothing, on the packages delivered etc. I’m trying not to become obsessive but just smart. So I posed a few questions to my happy hour group.

Are you cleaning  your hands?

  • The collective group said “Duh” but there were a few who chimed in to recognize this is a learned habit at which we should do better. Wet, lather, scrub, rinse, and dry. 20 seconds We can’t say this enough.
  • Besides the obvious times to wash hands, we added additional reasons such as after loading dirty laundry, after unloading groceries, after cleaning the house and after disposing of the trash.
  • If you want to review best practices, Johns Hopkins Hospital put out a how-to video.
  • One of the happy hour participants said she told her family that every time they passed a sink they should wash their hands. Try it!
  • Make those required 20 seconds way more fun by downloading a poster of your favorite song set to the motions of washing your hands. I chose Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees. Let each child pick a song and download the poster to hang over the sink.
  • We all complained of dry hands! My friend, Polly, encouraged everyone to moisturize often to prevent cracking thus reducing the risk of infection.

Is there a difference between Cleaning and Disinfecting?

Apparently there is a difference. I’ve never thought of it that way but The CDC has a very clear explanation of the differences and why cleaning is not the only step to ensure we are getting rid of the virus. Here’s a list of EPA approved disinfectants.

Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. Cleaning does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.

Disinfecting refers to using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

  • Clean all high-touch surfaces regularly with household cleaners such as soap and water or EPA approved cleaners. This includes your doorknobs, kitchen chairs, light switches, laptops and other electronics, the place on the door the kids use instead of the handle, all the surfaces in bathrooms, desks, etc…
  • Then, disinfect with either diluted bleach, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol or EPA approved disinfectants. Bleach should be diluted by mixing:  1/3 cup bleach per gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water.
  • This was a tough subject for those that prefer natural cleaning products. Vinegar is not a disinfectant. It can help with cleaning, but will not disinfect.
  • Never mix bleach with any other household cleaner. It’s really dangerous.
  • The CDC also recommends that we use disposable gloves for cleaning. Most of my friends don’t have disposable gloves. Whether or not you use gloves, after cleaning, you must wash your own hands.

How should we handle things if we have an infected household?

  • For those households with members who need to be isolated either due to possible exposure or because they are sick, caution is important.
  • Dedicate a bedroom and bathroom for the infected person.
  • Supply the person with cleaning and disinfecting supplies and a dedicated trash can so they can clean their area themselves.
  • Use disposable cutlery and plates that they can dispose of in their own trash can.)
  • Laundry. Don’t shake out clothing or sheets to avoid the spreading of the virus. Clean and dry thoroughly. Other household laundry can be included in the same load. Remember to clean and disinfect the laundry basket before returning newly clean items.

How should we clean our devices?

  • Phones, tablets and other plastic gaming devices can be cleaned with disinfecting wipes.
  • Laptops and computers should be cleaned with isopropyl alcohol (70%) and a soft towel. Everyone agreed their computers had never been so clean! (Which is kinda icky when you think about it!)

Should we be worried about contaminated packages, delivery, mail etc?

  • Packages. UPS says there is low-risk for transference of the virus but to be safe, wipe down packages with a disinfecting wipe and/or leave on your porch for 24 hours. Julie opens her packages outside and puts the box directly in the trash.
  • Grocery delivery. Wipe down bag handles with disinfectant. Wipe down contents and wash any fruits and veggies.
  • Mail. Once again, no evidence the virus is transmitted or can live long enough on our mail to be worried.

Should we be cleaning our fruit and veggies with bleach?

  • Nope! Cleaning with fresh water is fine.
  • If you are worried that water is not enough, try a spray such as Citrus Magic.
  • Or make your own DIY spray with 2 cups of cold tap water, 1/4 cup of white vinegar, and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Put in a spray bottle and spray on fruit and veggies. Let stand a few minutes and rinse off.
  • Most of my friends are already great at cleaning their fruits and veggies when they get them home from the market!

Who likes to clean?

  • There was quite the range of reactions to this question! Some don’t like cleaning so much and some find it very cathartic. All of us agreed we like a clean home!
  • Multi-task! Cleaning is also exercise and an eye break time from the various screens.
  • Make a daily to-do check list the kids can follow to help. Here’s a source for free printable chore charts.
  • Kids pick up on our moods so keep any anxieties to a minimum by making cleaning fun and routine.
  • Play favorite dance music while doing a house clean/disinfect. Everyone will be dancing (and cleaning!)

DIY Hand Sanitizer

2/3 cup rubbing alcohol of at least 70% alcohol concentration.

1/3 cup aloe Vera

Mix well and fill dispenser of choice

*When using rubbing alcohol with higher alcohol concentrations, add water to the mix.

DIY Disinfectant Wipes

2 cups of warm water

1 cup rubbing alcohol of at least 70% alcohol concentration.

1 tablespoon of dish soap

Mix well

Add mixture to half a roll of paper towels in a Tupperware container

 We hope this information has been helpful. If you have any great tips or ideas we would love to hear about them. Send an email to and we’ll add them to this post.

After you clean…What’s for dinner?

Try a new recipe!
You can search for an ingredient (e.g. eggplant, etc) the name or part of the name of a recipe (lasagna), a cuisine (Italian), type of dish (e.g. soup), an occasion (Thanksgiving, breakfast, tailgating, etc).  in your  DinnerTime Recipe Box.

A filling and delicious vegetarian choice.

 So fun to put together and even better to eat!

  Kids and grownups love this side dish!