How to Kill Coronavirus in Your Home, According to Experts

Avoid these mistakes when cleaning.

As the new coronavirus continues to spread globally, many have focused their efforts on eliminating germs lurking in their living spaces and on their belongings.

In a press release, experts from Rutgers University provided insight on the best ways to do this.

“Not many scientific studies have asked which are the most effective disinfecting agents to use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, because it was discovered so recently,” said Siobain Duffy, Ph.D., an associate professor of ecology and an expert in emerging viruses and microbial evolution. “So scientists are assuming that what works against other coronaviruses can work against this one.”

One major mistake you might be making? “You shouldn’t immediately wipe a cleaning solution off as soon as you’ve applied it to a surface. Let it sit there long enough to kill viruses first,” said Donald Schaffner, Ph.D., a distinguished professor and extension specialist in food science and an expert in microbial risk assessment and hand washing.

Another thing they mentioned: Play it safe and never mix different cleaning agents. The experts say that together, some chemicals can create dangerous and poisonous gases.

Drs. Duffy and Schaffner also went into detail about the proper ways to handle common germ-killing ingredients.


Why It Works : When diluted with water, it can decontaminate surfaces, removing bacteria, fungi and many viruses, including COVID-19.
How to Use It : Typically, ¼ cup of bleach mixed with one gallon of water will work. But the two urged people to follow the directions on the bleach container’s label.
When to Use It : Within 24 hours after creating the solution, because “disinfecting ability fades with time.”
How Long to Let It Sit : Non-porous items, like plastic toys, can be submerged in bleach for 30 seconds. But anything else that won’t get damaged by bleach should be immersed for 10 minutes or more, they wrote.
How NOT to Use It : It does not replace hand washing or hand sanitizer. “Bleach solutions are very hard on the skin,” they wrote. Some effects include burning and irritation.


Why It Works : It can kill pathogens, even in the form of rubbing alcohol.
How to Use It : Do not use pure alcohol because it will dissipate too quickly. Instead, mix it with water, or with aloe vera to create hand sanitizer. The most important thing is that the concentration of alcohol remains at around 70 percent to kill coronavirus. Or, you can buy a 70 percent alcohol solution at the store. “Many hand sanitizers have a concentration of about 60 percent alcohol, and Lysol contains about 80 percent; these are all effective against coronaviruses,” they wrote.
When to Use It : Even combined with water, alcohol will evaporate fast, so keep your solution sealed. As long as it is in a secure container, it’ll remain potent.
How Long to Let It Sit : Keep it in contact with the area you’re trying to clean for 30 seconds. This gets tricky with cell phones, so the experts recommend checking with the manufacturer first so you don’t invalidate the warranty.
How NOT to Use It : Do not apply it to your hands because it can cause dryness and irritation.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Why It Works : Drs. Duffy and Schaffner said this might be effective when applied to surfaces, because it’s worked against other coronaviruses.
How to Use It : Often sold in 3 percent concentrations, it can be used as is or diluted to a .5 percent concentration.
When to Use It : As we found, the brown plastic bottle hydrogen peroxide is housed in prevents the solution’s decomposition. CBS News reported that hydrogen peroxide should be replaced six months after opening. If unopened, it can last three years. It will not be effective if expired, so check the date!
How Long to Let It Sit : Leave it on an object’s exterior for one minute before wiping.
How NOT to Use It : Avoid using it around fabrics because it can alter the color. It’s OK to apply on metal though, according to Consumer Reports.

What WON’T Work: Vinegar, Tea Tree Oil and Other Natural Products

Drs. Duffy and Schaffner said there’s a lack of scientific evidence that suggests these can fight coronaviruses.

The two also reiterated these general tips.

  • Clean frequently touched objects daily. These include tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks. And if something is dirty, use detergent or soap and water on the item BEFORE disinfecting, the CDC recommends.
  • Regularly sanitize objects inside your home if someone there has been sick with flu-like symptoms. SARS-CoV-2 has been shown to survive for 16 hours on plastics, Drs. Duffy and Schaffner said.

Written by Maricar Santos for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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