Due to the coronavirus outbreak, people are at home and focused more than ever on ways to disinfect household objects, some that may have never been cleaned before, like that colorful leather sofa.

The novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces, according to public health experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

They recommend cleaning and wiping down frequently touched surfaces with a disinfectant daily during cold and flu season to reduce the risk of spreading infection.

It isn’t possible to remove bacteria from everything you touch, but soap and water, household cleaners and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved household disinfectants are effective on hard surfaces such as counters, tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets and sinks, says the CDC.

Products with EPA-approved, antimicrobial claims can be effective against hard-to-kill viruses, says the CDC. These include Clorox cleaner and bleach products and Lysol disinfectants.

Depending on the surface materials, you can use solutions with at least 70% isopropyl alcohol or diluted household bleach to kill bacteria. Mix four teaspoons of bleach into a quart of water, says the CDC, then rinse with water to avoid discoloration or damage.



Or spray with undiluted household hydrogen peroxide, which the CDC says works on rhinovirus infections, the cause of the common cold and harder to destroy than coronaviruses.

Wear disposable or washable gloves, and open windows to improve ventilation when using cleaning and disinfecting products.

When done, clean your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. If hands are not visibly dirty, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol may be used.

Dry with disposable paper towels or soak a reusable towel in soapy water to destroy any virus particles that may have survived, Richard Sachleben, an organic chemist and member of the American Chemical Society, told Consumer Reports.

We researched the safe solutions to remove dirt, bacteria, molds, mildew and virus germs. Our guide relies on the latest edition of Consumer Reports’ “How to Clean Practically Anything” publication, manufacturers and other reliable resources.

Follow manufacturer’s care instructions, use products with the EPA’s Safer Choice logo or just play it safe and use a little dish soap and water.

Wallpaper: Paper or fabric wallpaper coated with vinyl can be dusted with a dust mop and washed with an all-purpose cleanser without bleach and a clean sponge, then rinse with water.

Sealed wood and other furniture: Mix water and a little mild liquid dish detergent and spray onto furniture, then wipe with a damp cloth and dry with another clean, lint-free cloth. Dust oiled or untreated wood paneling with a vacuum cleaner’s soft brush attachment or a ceiling brush. Remove fingerprints with a damp cloth dipped in a mild detergent solution.

Carpet, rug, drape, cushion and other soft, porous surface: Clean with products such as Purell Multi-Surface Disinfectant or Sani-Spritz Spray. Launder using the warmest appropriate water setting and then dry completely. Dust with a vacuum cleaner’s soft brush attachment or with a soft, long-handled broom with synthetic fibers. Check the label to read the recommendation: W means water-based cleaner, S is solvent cleaner and X is vacuum only.

Leather upholstery: Vacuum crevices and dust with a soft, white cloth dampened with water and a little dish soap. Test before using saddle soap or another leather cleaner, which may remove some color.

Floor: Sanitize a hardwood floor with a mop dampened with a half cup of distilled white vinegar diluted with one gallon of water. Have porous concrete sealed and wash with a phosphate-free detergent. Mop or sponge sealed cork with only hot water and buff with a dry mop or cloth.

Fireplace: Have a professional clean the chimney of a wood-burning fireplace to remove built-up soot and flammable creosote once a year. Also clean the flues of wood-burning and solid-fuel stoves.

Garbage disposal: Shake in deodorizing baking soda, which is mildly abrasive and counteracts smelly acids poured down the drain.

Cutting board: Remove mildew and clean up raw meat, poultry or fish with bacteria-killing bleach (never mix with ammonia or any other cleanser).

Laminate cabinet: Use a handheld vacuum to remove dust then wipe up dirt and grease with a mild solution of dishwashing liquid mixed with clean, warm water. Wipe down with a clean, damp cloth and dry with another clean, soft, lint-free cloth or a microfiber cloth to avoid scratching laminate and high-gloss cabinetry, according to MasterBrand Cabinets.

Counter: Use a clean, soft cotton cloth with water and a mild, non-chemical liquid detergent to wipe down Formica laminate. Don’t let water penetrate the seams, which can cause the substrate to swell. Don’t use cleaners containing acid, alkali or sodium hypochlorite that will mar, etch, corrode and permanently discolor the laminate surface, says the Formica company.

Granite: Clean with a sponge dipped in water and mild detergent, and use a plastic scrub pad to gently remove stubborn dirt.

Stainless-steel appliances: Use a specially formulated, non-abrasive stainless-steel cleanser that won’t leave scratches.

Floor: Microfiber mops are most effective at removing dirt and bacteria, say experts. If you need a multipurpose bucket, Ikea has the Borstad Rinsing Tub for $19.99.

Marble counter: Use a clean cloth or a sponge with warm water and mild liquid detergent, rinse and then dry with a soft cloth.

Sink and tub: Use a sponge with hot water and liquid detergent instead of abrasive scouring powders. Rain-X glass treatment will repel water on clean shower doors.

Toilet bowl: Clean and disinfect with a toilet bowl cleaner. Use harsh cleaners to remove rust and stains sparingly.

Pillows: Fluff them every day to remove dust. About every month, hang them outdoors or run foam and latex pillows on the dryer’s no-heat cycle. Twice a year, clean down, feather and polyester pillows in the washing machine’s gentle cycle and dry them completely, or take pillows to the dry cleaners. Launder pillow covers, pillowcases and sheets once a week.

Cleaning supplies: Use a disinfectant wipe on soap dispenser pumps. Wash cleaning rags, shake out dusters and brooms, and microwave the kitchen sponge for two minutes daily then replace it every two weeks.

Washing machines: Better Homes and Gardens recommends rinsing non self-cleaning washing machines with distilled white vinegar every six months to remove bacteria and mildew odors. Run a regular cycle with hot water and two cups of white vinegar in an empty washing machine. Then wipe down the interior to eliminate buildup and run a cycle of hot water to rinse.

Dryer: Wash the baked-enamel exterior with mild detergent and water, then wipe with a damp sponge; or use any all-purpose cleaner without abrasives. Clean the lint filter every time you run the machine.

Coated glass: Use a damp microfiber cleaning cloth or screen wipes for eyeglasses, phones, cameras lenses, computer screens, ear buds and remote controls. Rubbing alcohol can cause damage as can spraying liquid directly onto them. A specialized UV light sterilizer and sanitizer can also be used to clean a smartphone, toothbrush, jewelry, eyeglasses, toys, keys and money.

Audio equipment: Use a soft, anti-static dust cloth that can be dampened with rubbing alcohol to remove fingerprints.

Office cleaning company Stratus Building Solutions uses electrostatic sprayer disinfectant systems to attack germs in difficult-to-reach spaces. The Portland group offers these cleaning tips:

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