One of the body’s biggest defense mechanisms that does not often get enough attention is our skin. The skin is like a giant mouth that can absorb toxic substances quickly. Along with the skin, our respiratory system is also vulnerable to harsh, aerosolized toxic chemicals that we’re spraying in the air. With the movement of meticulous sanitization in this pandemic, let’s not forget that we’re not doing our immune system any good with constant toxic exposures.
So what are some evidence-based methods that can keep our environment safe and reduce toxin exposures?
STEP 1: Keep your living space and office frequently ventilated
In our recent posted video on our FB page, and also according to the recent Journal of the American Medical Association, SARS-CoV-2, “pathogen-bearing droplets of all sizes can travel 23 to 27 feet” and “may stay suspended in the air for hours.” 1 Therefore, a poorly ventilated room can increase the concentration and risk of infection. Many experts recommend airing the house and office frequently throughout the day to disperse the pathogen-laden droplets. 1 This is why we do our COVID-19 testing in the outdoor setting.
STEP 2: Prioritize on what should be cleaned and disinfected on a daily basis.
You’d drive yourself crazy if you have to constantly clean the rugs throughout the day. Porous materials tend to have less risk of viral transmission due to its ability to “trap” the virus and dry out its outer lipid membrane, making it less infectious. 2 However, if it is a frequently used carpeted floor, then daily cleaning and disinfecting might be necessary. This is why it’s important to prioritize so that you are not excessively disinfecting and exposing your immune system to harsh chemicals. Customize your lists of high-contact items and the frequency of sanitizing (this depends on the traffic of the people going in and out of your place. Hopefully it’s a low number). If you work from home, then one less list for you!
CDC recommends to clean and disinfect commonly touched hard surfaces such as:
- Door knobs
- Light switches
- Tables, counters
- Sinks, faucets
- Computers and phones (be careful as some disinfectants can destroy electronic parts. For convenience, contain electronics in a wipeable cover if possible.) 3
Last but not least, always CLEAN with soap and water first, THEN DISINFECT with EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) approved disinfectant. Remember to incorporate STEP 1 while you’re cleaning and disinfecting!
STEP 3: Gather your supplies, and choose a non-toxic disinfectant
- Gloves (disposable or non-disposable)
- Disposable gown (if the job requires extensive cleaning): There are many ideas of make-shift gowns on Google.
- For cleaning: A bucket, warm to hot water, towels, and trash bags
- For disinfecting: See disinfectant section below.
Wash your hands for 20 seconds first before donning on gloves. You can use reusable kitchen gloves, just make sure it is for the sole purpose of cleaning and disinfecting. Put on a mask and goggles to prevent exposure of aerosols from the cleaning products.
Now to the exciting part: Choosing a non-toxic product that would target SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)! We’ve combed through the EPA approved list and chose products with the least chemicals but deemed to be effective:4
- Hard surfaces:
- Benefect Botanical Disinfectant Spray: We’re so glad this product is on the EPA approved list. We often use this product for mold as well.
- Clean Smart: EPA toxicity rate category IV (scale I = highly toxic; IV = non-toxic), no fragrance, no rinse. Need 10 minutes of surface contact time.
- Force of Nature: 4 ingredients: Salt, vinegar, water, and electricity. Sounds wild, but they are EPA registered! Make sure to have 10 minute contact time on the surface.
- Porous materials (rugs, carpet, fabric, etc.). CDC recommends to clean any visible contaminations with appropriate cleaners and launder these items in warm to hot settings (if appropriate), and dry thoroughly.3
- For laundry:
- Aspen Clean Laundry Detergent: Unscented, hypoallergenic, EWG (Environmental Working Group) certified, and works great even on stubborn stains.
- For porous materials that cannot be machine washed:
- Vacuum, spot clean, deep clean or steam clean. Be careful to minimize splashes by wearing protective equipments.
- For laundry:
Wash those gloves after removing them in a soap and hot water mixture, and don’t forget to wash your hands as the last step.
BONUS (but necessary) STEP: EWG certified hand soaps and hand sanitizers
Hand soaps: Click here
- You might have seen this soap at the clinic. This comes in many natural scents.
Hand sanitizers: CDC recommends hand sanitizers that contains at least 60% alcohol
If all of these are sold out, is there anything I do to get an effective disinfectant? Any homemade, DIY solutions that you’d recommend?
Unfortunately, there’s not much evidence that vinegar, essential oils, are effective towards SARS-CoV-2. However, when looking at the EPA approved list, we can make our best choices by selecting products with few ingredients, looking for EWG recommended low toxicity chemicals listed in the active ingredients: 5
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Ethyl alcohol (ethanol)
- Citric acid
- L-lactic acid
- Caprylic acid (octanoic acid)
EWG recommends to avoid products that contain:
- Sodium hypochlorite: Be careful that sodium hypochlorite (NaCl) and hypochlorous acid (HOCl) are not the same. Sodium hypochlorite is commonly found in bleach, whereas hypochlorous acid is a weak acid that is produced by our immune cells to fight off pathogens. You can dive deeper in the chemistry of it here. This is why Force of Nature was on our recommendation list
- Quaternary ammonium compounds
If there is nothing else on the shelves, if you can get your hands on 3% hydrogen peroxide, that should be sufficient.5
Do not mix disinfectants, even if they are “benign”, everyday products. This can actually cause more harms than benefits.
- Turbulent gas clouds and respiratory pathogen emissions. (2020, March 26). https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2763852
- Coronavirus FAQs: Does it live on clothes? Can my dog infect me? Any advice on wipes? (2020, March 27). NPR.org. https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/03/27/822591449/coronavirus-faqs-does-it-live-on-clothes-can-my-dog-infect-me-any-advice-on-wipe
- Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) – Environmental cleaning and disinfection recommendations. (2020, April 17). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cleaning-disinfection.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fprepare%2Fcleaning-disinfection.html
- List N: Disinfectants for use against SARS-Cov-2. (2020, April 16). US EPA. https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2
- 16 effective and safe products to guard against coronavirus. (2020, March 16). EWG. https://www.ewg.org/news-and-analysis/2020/03/16-effective-and-safe-products-guard-against-coronavirus
Disclaimer: Oubre Medical is not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with any of the recommended products listed, or any of its subsidiaries