Tips for deep cleaning your home to stay safe from coronavirus

NEW YORK -- Here's a reality check on cleaning and disinfecting your home: A new study from the National Institutes of Health says the coronavirus stays on cardboard for up to 24 hours, and two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.

When things get scary the trick is to control what you can control. Like getting rid of germs in our house.

What is the difference between cleaning and disinfecting?

"With cleaning, you are just using regular soap and water and a detergent if you are disinfecting you are actually using a chemical agent such as bleach to help kill the germs," said Connie Steed, President of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.

But experts warn you have to clean before you can disinfect.

"Sanitizing and disinfecting won't be effective if the surface is dirty so you really do need to clean first before you disinfect or sanitize," said Caroline Forte, Director of Home Appliances and Cleaning Products Lab, Good Housekeeping.

With those supplies running out in some stores, what else can you use?

The EPA has a list of more than 200 approved products to fight COVID-19, but something important to remember?

"Not all cleaners are the same. They all have different use directions, make sure you read the label, make sure you keep them wet for the required time," Forte said.

Many of these products have recommendations to let them dry for roughly a minute before you can wipe the surface.

And an EPA spokesperson told ABC News they do not review other household products, such as vinegar or essential oil mixtures with regard to their effectiveness against viruses and bacteria.

So what do experts say are the hotspots? Doorknobs, countertops, light switches, remotes and bathrooms.

Another place you might not think of? Towels!

"Don't share towels. Wash your hand towels and your dishcloths daily. Keep those clean and rotated. Put fresh ones out," Forte said.

How often should we be cleaning our homes?

"A couple times a week, if the family is not sick I would say every few days," Forte said.

If someone is sick, our experts recommend disinfecting every day. Controlling what we can as we work our way through this coronavirus pandemic.
Copyright © 2020 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.