How to Keep COVID-19 from Entering Your Apartment

While the cases of COVID-19 have gone down dramatically since the beginning of the year, there seems to be a resurgence in many states as well as the threat of a more serious second wave. It’s just as important now to make sure to keep your house virus-free as much as possible. Just because restrictions are lifting in many states doesn’t mean the virus is any less dangerous. In fact, the longer researchers study the virus, the more it has become apparent that COVID-19 can live quite a long time on surfaces such as cardboard, plastic and steel. More importantly, it turns out that around 42 percent of Americans aren’t cleaning surfaces properly.

The latest information on COVID-19’s longevity found that it can survive 24 hours on cardboard, 48 to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel. The duration depends on a few factors such as temperature and whether the surface is prone to holding moisture. In general, the virus thrives in damp and warm conditions. Regardless of what temperature and surfaces you have at home, there are steps you can take to slow the spread of the virus.

Disinfect at the Door

As much as possible, ditch the germs at the door. That means disinfecting every after you come home. Keep your shoes outside of your home, disinfect your hands and phone, wipe down any food items in containers, and so on. Of course, do NOT disinfect actual fresh vegetables as that can make you sick. It’s also a good idea to avoid touching the new items you’ve bought for a day or two to make sure the virus count decreases. While researchers have found the virus can live for up to 72 hours on some surfaces, the virus load decreases drastically after a day.

In addition to disinfecting the items you’ve bought, it’s also a good idea to get out of your clothes immediately and throw them into the laundry. COVID-19 can live on fabrics and porous surfaces so change as soon as you get home into something clean. Make sure you put your dirty clothes in the laundry room and not back in the drawers to prevent getting your clean clothes infected.

Wipe Down All Surfaces

One good thing about living in a small, New York City apartment is that there aren’t as many surfaces to disinfect! Pay close attention to surfaces you often touch such as doorknobs and handles, light switches, counters, and faucets. COVID-19 is a perfect excuse to get your deep cleaning done, so there’s no better time to start than now. When wiping the surfaces down initially, prepare a solution of 5 tablespoons of bleach per one gallon of water. Use a dish cloth or old t-shirt and really give your home a good scrub. Don’t forget to get the floors!

After the initial wipe, you can create a diluted bleach solution into a spray bottle and then wipe down the surfaces that you interact with often – namely doorknobs/handles, switches, faucets, tables, and counters. It’s a good idea to wipe these down at least once a day.

Start a Handwashing Protocol

Handwashing is the most effective way to combat the spread of COVID-19 in the house. While you should always wash your hands when you return home from being outside (especially when you live in NYC), it’s doubly important now with COVID-19. Even if you use sanitizer to disinfect your hands upon arriving home, it’s very important to wash them afterwards to get rid of the sanitizer and wash off the virus.

Remember that you need to wash your hands thoroughly for around 30 seconds with warm water. Make sure to get every inch of your hands, in between your fingers, and under your nails as much as possible. Even after washing your hands, avoid touching your face as much as possible even at home. Make sure that everyone in your family washes their hands when they get home, including the children in your family.

Create a Cleaning Schedule

If you don’t already have a schedule, it’s time to start one. If you have multiple people in the apartment such as family or roommates, you can alternate the chores to different people so one person isn’t always doing the cleaning. How often you clean depends on how much time everyone has and their profession. If someone in the apartment is a healthcare worker, you should clean more aggressively more often.

In general, you should try to vacuum and do laundry at least two to three times a week. Phones should be disinfected three to four times per day and you should mop at least twice a week. As for surfaces, these should be wiped down at least three to four times a day. It might sound like a lot, but it doesn’t take too much time, especially if you already have some wipes or a disinfectant spray. Speaking of spray, make sure to let it sit for at least 30 seconds so that it has times to actually affect the virus. After that, wipe it down as usual.

Talk to Your Management Company or Super

In addition to keeping your own apartment clean, it’s important for your super or management company to keep the rest of the building clean and disinfected. That means mopping the floors, wiping the handrails and doorknobs/handles, and disinfecting the mailboxes. These should be done every day to ensure the entire building is clean.

If you’re not seeing any cleaning happening, you should talk to the rest of the residents in your building and have everyone address the super and/or management company at the same time. This way, the complaint will hold more weight as it will be coming from multiple people. Keeping your apartment COVID-19 free requires diligence even if you’re living alone. If you live with other people, it’s important that everyone is on the same page. Otherwise, no matter what you do it will be in vain. Make sure to sit everyone down to explain the importance of following all the steps.