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An expert's advice on keeping your home virus free

Most of us may be staying home during the Covid-19 outbreak, but is your home a safe zone?

Dr Koh Hong Yi, a consultant dermatologist at Tham Siew Nee Skin Clinic at Gleneagles Medical Centre, shares his insights and gives advice for keeping your home clean and family healthy during this challenging time.

How can a homeowner effectively disinfect a room? Does it mean we need to wipe all the furniture and accessories?

All frequently touched areas and toilet surfaces need to be wiped down with an appropriate disinfectant or bleach, and allowed to air dry. All accessible areas of walls and blinds should similarly be cleaned.

If small accessories are accessible and have the potential to be in contact with the virus (like being touched by an infected person or have droplets land on them), it is best to clean them. Cleaning the floor alone is not enough.

Does spraying alcohol solution into the air at regular intervals help to clean the air?

Spraying alcohol into the air does not attain sufficient concentrations or contact time for it to be an effective disinfectant.

In well-ventilated rooms, the alcohol will dissipate too rapidly to be effective.

Remember that alcohol fumes are highly flammable, especially in enclosed spaces.

Do Hepa filters really help to remove bacteria and viruses from the air?

Hepa (high-efficiency particulate air) filters can remove bacteria and viruses in the air.

However, the main mode of spread of Covid-19 is from person-to-person through droplets, which are expelled from the mouth or nose of an infected person and passed to another person nearby.

Hence, the main defence should be social distancing and regular hand hygiene.

Can I just spray alcohol solution onto fabrics instead of washing them?

Alcohol does not remove soiling or dirt from surfaces or fabric, and so is not recommended as a replacement for washing. One must also remember that fabric will soak up alcohol and retain it for a longer time, and the item remains flammable during this period.

Do vacuum cleaners help to remove viruses from indoor carpeting?

No. Vacuum cleaners suck up dirt and do not remove viruses. If the carpet has been used by a person with Covid-19, you may wish to contact a cleaning contractor to help with disinfection.

Can the Covid-19 virus live on the surfaces of food items?

Yes, it is possible. However, it is uncertain how long the virus can persist on different surfaces. It may be affected by the type of surface, temperature and humidity of the environment.

Some studies suggest that coronaviruses persist on surfaces from a few hours to several days.

What are three things a homeowner must do at home in order to stay healthy?

Wash your hands regularly, especially after coming from outside and before touching things at home. Avoid touching your face, especially the mucosal surfaces - so no eating with bare hands, rubbing of eyes and picking your nose.

Lastly, clean the house regularly daily with approved disinfectants, and keep it well-ventilated.

This article was first published in Home & Decor Singapore (