Epidemiologists weigh in how to clean the overlooked areas in your home.

Now more than ever, it's crucial to clean and disinfect every surface in your home to prevent the spread of coronavirus. By now, you're likely aware of the importance of washing your hands with hot water and soap for 20 seconds, wearing a mask in public, and disinfecting everything from packages and groceries to door handles and light switches. But what about those hard to reach or forgotten areas that could also carry and transmit COVID-19? Epidemiologists emphasize that it's important to sanitize commonly touched surfaces, but not to cause yourself additional anxiety or stress. "There's a level of vigilance people should take with disinfecting commonly neglected items, but only if it will make them more comfortable," Melissa Hawkins, an epidemiologist at American University, told Apartment Therapy. "If constantly sanitizing everything will breed anxiety, then just focus on the things that will bring you the most comfort."

Cleaning a Countertop
Credit: Pattanaphong Khuankaew/EyeEm/Getty Images


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends sanitizing any electronics including cell phones, remote controls, computer screens and keyboards, tablets, and smart watches. When disinfecting these surfaces, follow the manufacturer's instructions, or use alcohol-based wipes or sprays containing at least 70 percent alcohol. Dry thoroughly to prevent any liquid damage to the device.

Your Car

If you're leaving a store, chances are you're touching your car door handles, seat belt, steering wheel, and gear shifter before thoroughly washing your hands. Before getting in your car, use hand sanitizer and let it thoroughly absorb into your skin. Once you get home, use a disinfectant wipe on all of the aforementioned areas to prevent the spread of germs.

The Contents of Your Purse

Keys, wallet, credit cards—all of these items need disinfecting, as they can carry germs, such as coronavirus, for up to 72 hours. Wipe them down with a disinfectant wipe or a combination of dish soap and hot water, then dry with a clean, absorbent towel.

Your Keys

While you can safely clean your keys with disinfectant wipes, they can also handle something even stronger. Before cleaning, remove leather or fabric keychains to prevent damage. Prepare a bleach solution by mixing four teaspoons of bleach with four cups of water and soak the keys for at least one minute. This solution will effectively kill germs and viruses for up to 24 hours.

Comments (2)

Martha Stewart Member
December 5, 2020
Why would you disinfect your in-home electronics? Are stray people coming into your home and using them? If you are washing your hands when you get home, you should not be spreading any germs. Who is still quarantining their mail or disinfecting their groceries? I am not putting my key fob for the car in bleach. Better you get exposed to the virus in little amounts to build immunity. If doing this really got rid of virus-we would not have the seasonal flu.
Martha Stewart Member
August 14, 2020
I am leary about soaking my car keys in bleach water since most of them have a microchip inside. It has to work in conjunction with the key fob doesn't it?