Coronavirus: 3 Things You Need To Know When Cleaning Your Surfaces For Covid-19 and Which Products To Use

Coronavirus: 3 Things You Need To Know When Cleaning Your Surfaces For Covid-19 and Which Products To Use

cleaning supplies

Not all cleaning products will do the job. Here we go over what to look for based on recent research.

In our previous blog we talked about different surfaces and the life of coronavirus on these. Recent studies show that the virus can stay alive for up to 6 days.

It's important to know that not all cleaning products will do the job. Here we go over what to look for based on recent research and the products to use when cleaning your surfaces for coronavirus.

With proper cleaning, and the use of anti-bacterial solutions, you can remove these viruses immediately on any surfaces, keeping your home clean and safe.

There are, however, certain cleaning products that will not cut it if you’re looking to fully disinfect.


Here are the 3 things you need to know to keep your surfaces clean

  1. Knowing the difference between cleaning and disinfecting so you can choose the right products

    There is a big difference between cleaning and disinfecting, and you need to make sure you have the right cleaning products at home. Cleaning is about removing dirt and germs from a surface while disinfecting is about killing germs and bacteria. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends doing a bit of both even if nobody in your home is sick.

  2. Clean

    start out by cleaning high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, table surfaces, dining chairs, kitchen counters, bathroom counters, taps and faucet knobs, toilet seat and handle, light switches, remote controls.
    Remove any dust or debris. Wipe them with soapy water and a hand towel.

    KEY POINT: The detergent in soap will lift the virus from surfaces and this will then be rinsed off by water. So, you are removing the virus, but not killing it.

  3. Disinfect

    This is where you actually kill the germs using anti-bacterial products.
    Make sure your disinfectant contain the following:

    1. 62-71% ethanol (same as alcohol on the label),
    2. 5% hydrogen peroxide or
    3. 1% sodium hypochlorite (bleach)

These can "efficiently" inactivate coronaviruses within a minute, according to the CDC.

 spraying a surface clean to disinfect

Make sure you use the products correctly to kill the virus


The active ingredient in bleach – sodium hyperchlorite – is very effective at killing the virus. Make sure you leave the bleach to work for 10-15 minutes. Then give the surface a wipe with a clean cloth. The bleach works by destroying the protein and what’s known as the ribonucleic acid (RNA) of the virus. This substance gives the blueprint for making more virus particles when you become infected. Be sure to use the bleach as directed on the bottle.

How to use it

Make diluted bleach solution as needed (and as directed on the bottle) and use it within 24 hours, as its disinfecting ability fades with time.

Non-porous items like plastic toys can be immersed in bleach for 30 seconds. Household surfaces that won’t be damaged by bleach should get 10 or more minutes of exposure.

Bleach solutions are very hard on the skin, and you should not use them as a substitute for handwashing and/or hand sanitizer.


Ethanol (Alcohol)

Ethanol has been shown to kill coronaviruses in as little as 30 seconds. Like bleach, the alcohol destroys the protein and RNA that the virus is made up of.

How to use it

Solutions of 70% alcohol (must be 70% to work) should be left on surfaces for 30 seconds (including mobile phones—but check the advice of the phone manufacturer to make sure you don’t void the warranty) to ensure they will kill viruses. Pure (100%) alcohol evaporates too quickly for this purpose.

Make sure to seal containers of 70% alcohol to prevent evaporation. But unlike bleach solutions, they will remain potent as long as they are sealed between uses.

A 70% alcohol solution with water will be very harsh on your hands and so please do not use it as a substitute for handwashing and/or hand sanitiser.

iphone cleaning

Photo: Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/dpa (Photo by Karl-Josef Hildenbrand/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Products in New Zealand to use when cleaning your surfaces for coronavirus

If you read the labels and look for the right content you will be fine. We have put together a list of some (sadly, non-natural) products you can use to disinfect:

  • Janola Premium Bleach
  • Dettol Glen 20 Disinfectant Spray
  • Dettol Antiseptic Liquid
  • Pine O Cleen Disinfectant Apple All In One


Products that will NOT disinfect

Benzalkonium and chlorhexidine digluconate - Surface wipes or other products using benzalkonium or chlorhexidine digluconate. These are both antiseptics that will not kill the human coronavirus.

Natural – Products made from vinegar and other natural products are not recommended for disinfecting. They are however still good (and our recommendation) for cleaning which will remove the virus, just not kill it.

By adding these to your daily routine you can significantly lower the risk of infection in your home. If you don't have any disinfectants at home, just be thorough wiping these surfaces with any soap or cleaning agents you have, as it’s better than doing nothing.


This is Blog 2 of our series of 3 Blogs. You can read Blog 1 here, about how long the coronavirus will stay alive on the surfaces in your house.



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