How to Clean Your Home, According to the CDC

These expert cleaning tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will help you really disinfect your home.

Cleaning your home is essential to prevent the spread of illness; right now, it’s more important than ever. You may wonder what cleaning method is best for fighting viruses like the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Is simply wiping surfaces enough?

We turned to the guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to find out.

Do You Have to Clean and Disinfect?

Yes, the CDC says you should be doing both! Here’s why.

The act of cleaning refers to the removal of germs and dirt. It does not kill germs, but removes them from the surface, therefore lowering the risk of spreading infection.

On the other hand, disinfecting is actually killing the germs—usually with chemicals. It should be done after cleaning, and can further lower the risk of spreading illness.

In other words, when you wipe away messes on your counter with soap and water, you’re cleaning. You’re disinfecting a surface only when you use a product specifically made for disinfection.

How to Clean and Disinfect Surfaces

Here’s the best way to clean and disinfect common surfaces around your home:

  • Wear disposable gloves—and discard the gloves after cleaning. If your prefer reusable gloves, use them only for cleaning and not for any other purpose. Then, wash your hands after removing the gloves.
  • Clean surfaces with soap and water prior to disinfection.
  • Disinfect surfaces with diluted bleach or an EPA-registered household disinfection product, like Clorox or Lysol cleaners. (See below for more details about EPA-recommended cleaners.) To make your own bleach solution, mix 1/3 cup of bleach per 1 gallon of water, or 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart of water.

This is why Clorox is so good at killing germs.

How to Clean and Disinfect Clothing and Towels

When it comes to disinfecting your home, don’t forget about your clothes and towels! Here’s how to clean and disinfect your laundry:

  • If someone in your home is sick or has recently recovered from illness, use disposable gloves to handle dirty laundry. Discard the gloves after use, and wash your hands. Keep in mind, if you aren’t using gloves, you should still wash your hands after touching the dirty laundry.
  • Do not shake dirty laundry, because that can further spread the virus.
  • Wash your clothes and towels per the manufacturer’s instructions, but use the hottest setting on your washing machine.
  • Clean and disinfect your clothes hamper. Consider using a washable liner for the hamper and wash it on the highest possible setting, as well.

EPA-Recommended Cleaning Products

To ensure your home is disinfected, and not just clean, it’s best to use products recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency. EPA-recommended cleaning products have been tested and shown to be effective against harder-to-kill viruses. This is not the time to rely on natural cleaners—bring on the chemicals.

No matter which cleaner you purchase, be sure to follow the directions on the bottle for the proper concentration, application and contact time to ensure disinfection. You can find the full list of EPA-approved products here. (And while you’re shopping, here are the cleaning products that professional house cleaners recommend.)

Erica Young
Erica is a cleaning and home décor expert. She knows exactly how to tidy a filthy kitchen and straighten out a mixed-up pantry! When she's not writing you'll find her organizing a closet, buying more bins she doesn't need or bingeing her latest TV show obsession.