How our cleaning habits are changing during the pandemic – an expert weighs in

words Al Woods

cleaning pandemic

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, the general public is looking to clean a little differently. Many have searched the internet for cleaning tips in order to make their homes more clean and safe.

Dettol has conducted research on the most popular cleaning related online searches and asked Dr Lisa Ackerley, a Professorial Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health and prominent hygiene expert, to share some insight on disinfecting and cleaning our homes.

Cleaning has shifted to disinfecting

Everyone knows that good hygiene practices are essential, during the pandemic and beyond. This has resulted in many people searching for ways to clean and disinfect their homes, and increased popularity for antibacterial and disinfectant sprays.

One of the popular online searches was related to how to disinfect door handles, with a +556% increase in searches. Dr Ackerley suggests that this is a positive thing as door handles are frequently touched surfaces that play a part in helping spread infectious viruses.

According to Dr Ackerley, in order to combat germs on door handles, it’s advised to regularly clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces with antibacterial wipes to kill bacteria and viruses.

As more people looked for ways to disinfect the key surfaces in their homes, others began to focus less on more traditional cleaning tasks – getting rid of mould on the walls and how to clean burnt irons for example, decreased in searches by 75% and 55% respectively, highlighting a shift in cleaning priorities.

How to break the chain of infection

‘How to deep clean your home’ was another top search online, with an increase of 200% during the pandemic. However, Dr Ackerley suggests that deep cleaning your home is meaningless if you’re not disinfecting the vital things “such as your hands when you arrive home.” Dr Ackerley advises washing your hands thoroughly and often, such as when you arrive at or from your destination (home, school or work) or when using public transport as suggested by the government.

Dr Ackerley’s expert advice is that people should be breaking the chains of infection through targeted cleaning like door handles, handrails, taps and the toilet flush. The same goes for food preparation areas, fridges and cupboard handles in the kitchen. Often the real health risks are by the things in our everyday life that we touch frequently with our hands which can be transmitted onto what we touch, which can then infect other members of our house.

cleaning pandemic

Disinfect and clean shared technology in the office

Gadgets and tech devices are another area that cleaning is steered towards, with a surge in people looking to disinfect their laptops and clean their phones.  Dr Ackerley suggests that if you’re at home and have washed your hands at key moments like when you got home and wiped down surfaces as mentioned above, then the risks are low, as long as no one else is sharing the device. However, if working in an office environment and sharing equipment then this is different than in your own home and space. In a shared space, Dr Ackerley suggests taking precautions like washing your hands when you arrive at work and use antibacterial wipes on the laptop, mouse, keyboard and anything else that may be shared or touched by someone else at your office.

Overall, Dr Ackerley’s expert advice is that people should continue to clean and disinfect the key areas of their homes. This doesn’t need to take up the majority of the day, but by focusing on small areas and disinfecting these often is key to combating bacteria and viruses. This technique will help break the chain of infection.

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