How to Keep Your Home—and Everyone Who Lives in It—Healthy If Someone Gets Sick with the Coronavirus
Be prepared now, in case someone tests positive later.
No matter how meticulously you and your family practice social distancing, this question is still front of mind: What happens if someone gets sick with COVID-19? While many of us have prepared our pantries for a full-blown 14-day quarantine, we might feel less confident in our abilities to protect other members of our households if one person begins exhibiting symptoms. We're here to help mitigate this anxiety—as are Beverly Hills-based primary care doctor Ehsan Ali and Miami-based general practitioner Michael Hall. Ahead, these experts share the best ways to keep your home healthy when someone gets sick, so you create your own game plan.
Quarantine your sick loved one as soon as possible.
First things first: Dr. Ali says to quarantine your ill loved one in a room away from everyone else; this improves your chances of containing the coronavirus. "It would be best if they could stay in a room attached to a bathroom, so they don't spread germs throughout the house," he says. "If they need to leave their room, ask the sick person to wear a mask within the house."
Increase cleanings to three times per day.
While they're sectioned off from the rest of the house, get in the habit of spraying down each room with Lysol three times per day. This might seem like overkill—but that's the point. Frequent cleanings will literally kill any germs lingering in the air. Just be sure to crack a window so you don't get overwhelmed by the fumes.
Order an air purifier.
Additionally, Dr. Hall recommends adding a HEPA-filtered air purifier to your home. While no manufacturer is currently permitted to make claims that their products "filter out" the coronavirus, there are many models that remove 0.3-micron particles (this is the one you want!). While COVID-19 is smaller than that, Dr. Hall says that the virus typically attaches itself to particulate in the air, so using a purifier is an effective way to clear out your indoor atmosphere.
Get creative when you run out of Lysol.
If you don't have Lysol on hand—or run out after ramping up your cleaning schedule—Dr. Hall says that you can dilute a 10:1 solution of sodium hypochlorite (household Clorox or bleach) and tap water in a spray water bottle. "Spray this all over the door handles and air vents," he instructs, noting that it will kill any germs on their surfaces. Another popular, effective ingredient to try? Isopropyl alcohol. "Use this to disinfect surfaces, doorknobs, and even remote controls and cell phones," Dr. Ali adds. "You can also mix this with aloe and make your own hand sanitizer, as well."
Beyond sprays and wipe-down solutions, Dr. Ali adds that steam cleaning is another effective way to rid your house of germs. "You can use a steamer (such as a garment steamer, steam iron, or floor steamer), as the heat kills all viruses and bacteria," he says. While you might feel silly to walking around your home aimlessly steaming the air, there could actually be something to it.
Prioritize sanitizing commonly-touched items.
Think doorknobs, counters, fridge doors, drawer handles, the mail slot, bathrooms, kitchens, and more. And be sure you are sanitizing correctly, notes Dr. Ali: While we all know that alcohol wipes are an effective way to disinfect surfaces, you need to let the surface remain covered with the alcohol for at least four minutes to have an antiviral and antibacterial effect. The same goes for when you spray things down. You should spritz enough to notice a slight dampness to the furniture, carpets, or rugs you are sanitizing. Let them dry and you're good to go.