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How to help kill coronavirus in your house and car after you've gone outside

EPA-approved products, like Clorox wipes and Lysol spray, are necessary to disinfect the surfaces in your home.

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There are so many surfaces in your home that could be harboring germs.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET
For the most up-to-date news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, visit the WHO website.

While the novel coronavirus has you boarded up inside, you still need to go out for essential items, like food at the grocery store, take-out orders from restaurants and supplies from the pharmacy. And now, more than ever, you need to be cautious of surfaces you touch in public, like shopping carts, and be aware of the germs you might bring home. Part of the best way to minimize your exposure to the disease known as COVID-19 is to keep your home disinfected and sanitized.

Washing your hands frequently is one of the best steps you can take, but the virus can still cling to surfaces you carry with you into your sanctuary, like your clothes, shoes, debit card and even your phone (here's how to disinfect your phone). Fortunately, the EPA has released a list of products that are considered effective at killing the virus.

Read more: 7 hand soaps to fight germs, from cheap to luxury   

If you're worried you may have come in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus, or you just want to be extra cautious, you can use cleaning products like Clorox, Lysol, Microban and hydrogen peroxide to sanitize all the surfaces in your home. Make sure you focus on cleaning all the doorknobs, countertops and other high-traffic areas during your deep clean.

Here are five ways to keep your home sanitized from the coronavirus, and other areas and items you should disinfect, stat.

Use disinfectant wipes to quickly clean down surfaces

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 or twice 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 bacteria that could linger.

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

Clean 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.

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.

Products like 409 cleaner are not on the EPA's approved list of products, so we suggest using products that come from the list, like Lysol spray, Clorox spray and Sani-Prime spray.

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Use a bleach mixture to clean 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 1 cup of bleach mixed with 5 gallons of water to mop your floors. 

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 1 gallon of water.

Clean up 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 eight 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. 

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Disinfect your floors with bleach.

Alina Bradford/CNET

Keep your home protected with Microban 24

A new product released by Proctor and Gamble called Microban 24 claims to keep surfaces protected for 24 hours. The antibacterial cleaner comes in several forms, including a disinfectant spray, a bathroom cleaner and a multipurpose cleaner. Although it isn't on the EPA list, the company says that when it's used as directed as a disinfectant, it is effective against viruses, including the coronavirus.

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.

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What to use to clean your car

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.

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

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Other household items you should consider disinfecting

As the world adjusts to the new reality of COVID-19 as a pandemic, we have more tips to help keep you protected. Here's how to avoid the coronavirus with these nine practical tips to limit exposure without isolating yourself, why you shouldn't make your own hand sanitizer and how to help keep the virus off your phone.

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.