CDC cleaning guidance: How to disinfect and sanitize your home of COVID-19

Updated guidelines suggest that you should be cleaning your home daily. We'll give you some tips for what to use and where.

Katie Teague Writer II
Katie is a writer covering all things how-to at CNET, with a focus on Social Security and notable events. When she's not writing, she enjoys playing in golf scrambles, practicing yoga and spending time on the lake.
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There are so many surfaces in your home that could be harboring germs.

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More than 202 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in the US, but the pandemic isn't over yet as new variants continue to emerge and spread across the country. And with the recommended pause on Johnson & Johnson vaccines due to rare clotting problems, it could further slow the process of vaccinating millions more (here's how to make an appointment). With that, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention again updated guidance on cleaning and disinfecting your home.

Updated CDC guidelines, released in early April, say to regularly clean your home with soap or detergent. Disinfectants are likely unnecessary unless someone in your home is sick or has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 24 hours. There have been few reports of COVID-19 transmission through surfaces, the CDC has said, because it's most commonly spread via respiratory droplets and aerosols from a person infected with the virus. However, it's still possible to contract the virus if you touch an infected surface and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth, according to the CDC.

If someone in your home has COVID-19, isolate them and disinfect your home (we'll tell you what to use below). And as always, remember to wash your hands frequently. Here's how to sanitize your entire home from the coronavirus with EPA-approved disinfectants. But before you get started, make sure you've got plenty of ventilation while cleaning with chemicals. This story was updated with new information from the CDC.

Read more: COVID vaccine passports will be a part of international travel

Use disinfectant wipes to quickly clean high-traffic areas

Think about the things you touch multiple times a day -- doorknobs, sinks, cabinet handles, refrigerator doors, remote controls -- and how many germs are lingering on those surfaces that you may not think about. Since home is where you're most relaxed, you may not be as militant about washing your hands in your own space as you are in public places.

To keep the germs at bay, use a disinfectant wipe, like Clorox Wipes, Lysol Wipes or Purell Wipes, to quickly sanitize those areas. Once a day should do the trick to remove germs. But if someone in your house is sick, you may want to wipe down surfaces more frequently. After you wipe the area, let it air dry to give it time to kill any germs that could linger.


Start using all your cleaning essentials.

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Spray hard and soft surfaces with a disinfectant spray

For areas like your couch and carpet that can't be wiped down, you can use a disinfectant spray, like Lysol, to go after unseen germs. I suggest spraying in a sweeping motion to cover the entire surface, then let it completely dry before sitting down or walking on the surface.

If someone in your home has COVID-19 and you need to vacuum the carpet, the CDC recommends wearing a mask while doing so.

You can also spray down countertops, mattresses and tables. If you're out of wipes, you can also aim your disinfecting spray into a paper towel to wipe down sink handles and other smaller surfaces.

We suggest using products that come from the EPA list, like Lysol spray, Clorox spray and Sani-Prime spray.

Use a bleach mixture to disinfect your floors

Your shoes step on a lot of gross stuff during the day, and if you don't take them off when you come into the house, you could track in viruses and other germs. To clean the floors in your kitchen and bathroom, the CDC recommends using one cup of bleach mixed with five gallons of water to mop your floors. 

The EPA list includes Maquat products that you can dilute and use to clean hard, nonporous areas, like glazed tile floors -- but you should avoid getting it on your grout.

Note that you'll need to use a different disinfectant for porous floors -- for example, if you use bleach on hardwood, it can remove the stain color. Instead, use a disinfecting wet mop cloth on your hardwood floors or combine half a cup of white vinegar and one gallon of water. Note that vinegar isn't on the EPA-approved list.

Clean your bathroom with hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide isn't only effective for whitening teeth -- in fact, the CDC says that 3% hydrogen peroxide was able to inactivate rhinovirus within 8 minutes. When you pour the substance directly on surfaces like your sink, countertops or toilets, you'll need to let it soak for around 10 to 15 minutes. This will give it time to completely do its job. After you let it sit, scrub the area and then rinse with water.

It's also safe to clean your toothbrush with hydrogen peroxide since the bristles can harbor bacteria. 

Read more: 6 essential cold and flu products you need whether you're sick or not


Disinfect your floors with bleach.

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Keep your house protected longer with Microban 24

A product released by Proctor and Gamble called Microban 24 claims to keep surfaces protected for 24 hours -- it's also on the EPA list of approved products. The antibacterial cleaner comes in several forms, including a disinfectant spray, a bathroom cleaner and a multipurpose cleaner. The company says that when it's used as directed as a disinfectant, it can kill viruses, including the coronavirus (although it doesn't provide for 24-hour protection against viruses).

If used every day, this can help prevent germs from living on surfaces in your home. A good method would be to start your morning off by sanitizing with the Microban 24 so that your house is protected all day.

Watch this: Kids and schools will need to recover from massive COVID impact

You should also sanitize your car. Here's how

While you're out, you're exposed to germs and viruses that can follow you back into your car. A good idea is to sanitize these parts on a daily basis: Car door handles and controls, keys or start button, steering wheel, gear shift, seats, all buttons and knobs on your dash, sun visor, anything touchscreen, the console and cup holders.

You can use disinfectant wipes on most surfaces, excluding any leather and touchscreens. There are specific wipes made for cleaning your car's leather. If your car has a touchscreen, you'll want to use a microfiber cloth to wipe it down (unless your manual says otherwise). For cloth seats, a spray like Lysol is considered effective when given time to dry.

Read more: The best cordless vacuum for 2021 

2020 Infiniti QX50 Autograph

If you've got a touchscreen in your car, clean it frequently.

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Other household items you should disinfect regularly

  • Your computer keyboard and mouse (here's how)
  • Google Home and Amazon Echo speakers
  • TV remote and TV buttons
  • All frequently used electronics, like tablets and phones
  • Debit and credit cards
  • Bedsheets and blankets on the warmest washing machine setting possible.
  • Coffee maker handles and buttons

To stay updated about the COVID-19 vaccine, here's how to book a COVID-19 vaccine, how COVID passports could work and how to find leftover doses near you.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.