Gather in good health this winter by following these cleaning tips.
woman in gloves wiping door knob
Credit: Getty / martinedoucet

The holidays are coming, which means a select few family and friends may be visiting to celebrate with you and yours. But with cases of COVID-19 on the rise and the start of cold and flu season, it is more important than ever to prioritize gathering safely—in fact, it might be time to consider whether you should gather at all. If you do decide to take a cautious approach to hosting immediate family, you'll want to make sure to keep your high-traffic, high-touch areas sanitized and spotless ahead of and during your small celebration. These are the surfaces you need to target.

High-Touch Zones

Your fingers are the most germ-laden part of your body, says board-certified family medicine doctor Dr. Mikhail "Mike" Varshavsk, because they have the most interaction with your environment. Therefore, the things you touch the most should be the items you sanitize the most regularly. "This includes doorknobs, remotes, buttons, cell phones, and frequently used surfaces, like the kitchen counter," he says. Common entertaining areas, such as the bar, coffee table, dining room table, and even your refrigerator's exterior (a high-touch zone if guests help themselves to drinks inside) should be sanitized thoroughly multiple times during your gathering.

Two-Step Process

When searching for ways to effectively clean our homes for guests, Gary Willett, the president of Global BioProtect, a manufacturer and supplier of environmentally-friendly cleaning products, says that we should look to what high-exposure spaces, like restaurants, are doing to keep their patrons safe. "Their regimen includes thorough cleaning to remove dirt, grease, and grime with a focus on high-touch areas, such as doorknobs," he says. "Following cleaning, surfaces should be disinfected with an EPA-approved sanitizer." Willett stresses that it is very important to follow the directions on your sanitization product's label to ensure you leave an area germ- and virus-free. And since this two-step process (cleaning and then sanitizing) is used throughout the day in a typical restaurant environment, he says that it can be safely and effectively utilized in your home on a daily basis. 

Sanitizing Versus Cleaning

Many people think that if their home is clean, it is also disinfected, bu this isn't always the case. "Cleaning and sanitizing are two distinct steps—and sanitizing can only happen after you clean," Willett continues. Don't forget the importance of cleaning and sanitizing your own hands, too, Willett says. Ahead of—and during—your small celebration, maintain a frequent hand washing routine that includes soap, water, and scrubbing for about 20 seconds.

Stay Healthy

While a clean home can help keep germs at bay, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still affirms that indoor gatherings with people you do not live with are higher risk than virtual or outdoor-only types. If you are bringing people into your home this winter, be sure to practice social distancing and mask wearing—and avoid hosting or attending if you are experiencing any telltale symptoms, like a cough, fever, or loss of smell or taste.


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