Advice on how to keep COVID-19 out of your home

Most places throughout the world are now under some level of lockdown. 

And although this significantly minimises one’s risk of catching the virus, there are still further things that we can do to stop the spread of the virus. 

Our groceries, our mail and our pets are at risk of contamination and therefore so are we. 

Here is my advice on how to keep COVID-19 out of your home!

How to handle your groceries

If you’re going to the grocery store, you should be wearing gloves and a mask, and we’ll assume that you are. 

Once you get your groceries home, you’ll want to assume that they are contaminated with virus particles as they have likely been handled by someone else at some point whether that’s by a store worker or another potential buyer. 

When I get my groceries home, I start by wiping down anything packaged with 70% isopropyl alcohol or >80% ethyl alcohol (grain alcohol ~160 proof) sprayed onto the packages and on a paper towel, I’m using to clean the items. The alcohol spray is fast-drying and will kill any virus particles that are exposed to it within 2 minutes or less. 

You can also use soap suds made from water and any soap (such as any brand of liquid kitchen dish detergent) to clean things like plastic bags, jars and cans. Even cardboard swiped with bubbles will work well and dry soon enough.

Soap foam actually works faster than alcohol for killing this virus. Just as they break up oils and fats leftover on our dishes, the soap bubbles actually disturb the fatty membrane of the virus, causing virus particles to instantly explode.

What about what’s inside the packets?

I often get asked about the products inside boxes, and I think it’s safe to assume that most things have been machine packaged, so they aren’t likely to be contaminated. 

Also, you cannot catch COVID-19 from eating it because your stomach acid and body temperature will kill off the virus. Remember, the virus likes cool environments and will only live in the coldest areas of your body like your lungs, throat and nasal sinuses.

What to do with produce 

If you’ve got skinned produce like avocado, peppers or tomatoes, then you can clean them in your sink with water and a little dish soap. Again, the soap bubbles will kill the virus particles instantly. You only need to ensure that your fruits and vegetables are well rinsed and left out to dry properly before storing them.

For products that can’t go into the water, such as onions or garlic, place them out in direct sunlight for an hour or two, turning different sides to the sun every 15-30 minutes. The UV light will kill the virus particles. On a clear sunny day, the particles should be destroyed with just a few minutes. Cloudy days require longer time.  It helps if the temperature is high. Remember, the virus can’t survive in the heat! 

For leafy greens like lettuces, I put them into slightly soapy water, move them around a little to ensure all the leaves are clean and then give them a good rinse. I will then either leave the individual leaves out to dry or I’ll gather the leaves and use an elastic band around their base. Then I hang the greens up and let them dry properly that way.

Don’t forget your plastic bags! 

Because the items you brought home may have been contaminated, either wash the grocery bags in soapy water, clean them with alcohol or put all your plastic bags in the trash. Better still, bring reusable bags to the grocery and clean them well after each use.

Once you’ve processed your groceries, don’t forget to wipe down the entire area that your bags or groceries touched! Then wash your hands just once more.

How to process your mail

Get your gloves on – your mail will have been touched by other people, so you must treat it as suspect. 

COVID-19 can stick quite nicely to paper and cardboard, so I use my 70% isopropyl alcohol or 80% grain alcohol to spray down the letters – they’ll dry in seconds. 

For larger packages, I use my alcohol again but I either wet a paper towel and wipe with it or I mist the entire package with it so I can wipe down all sides well. You can also wipe down packages with a soapy cloth full of bubbles. Then set them aside to dry.

As with your groceries, remember to wipe down any surfaces that your unclean mail has touched. Alternatively, what I have done is brought a table outside the door so that I can do the cleaning of the mail and other items outside sparing the kitchen counter another cleaning.

To save on disinfectant, I also have placed a large recycle bin outside the door right by the mail table to dispose of junk mail and any packaging I would rather not have to clean. The virus on the paper and cardboard will perish within 5 days or less as long as it does not freeze. 

How to take care of your pets

If your animal has been touched or petted by someone outside of your family unit, you must assume that the area that was touched is now contaminated with virus particles. 

So, the quickest fix is to take your alcohol spray onto a paper towel and wipe off the area that has been touched. 

If you’re dealing with more than just a casual touch, say a pet has had extended exposure to someone who was sick, I would highly recommend that you bath the pet with soapy water! This goes for all pets, including cats – I wish you luck! 

There is now evidence from around the world that our pets and other species may be able to catch COVID-19, so if you are sick or you are at high-risk, think about finding someone else to take care of your pets.

Some pet owners are thinking about social distancing for their pets to keep them safe from each other. However, social distancing may cause significant suffering so decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis.

How to manage the fear

Most areas of the world, that haven’t already, are now coming to the head of the curve which means that now is the time to be the most careful. 

I strongly urge you to take this advice, stay aware, self-isolate and practice social distancing. 

But I also urge you to stay present. Even if you are not suffering from the virus, we are all exposed to the loss and grief that has come to all humans everywhere in the world. 

Remember to breathe. Take time to exercise, hydrate, get into the sun, and relax the mind. Consider practices that work best to relax your mind: meditation, prayer, yoga, arts and crafts, reading, writing, Qigong, TaiChi, gardening, preparing healthy meals, or walking in nature. Most of these require little to no money and have the potential to bring you great wisdom.

What next?

For far more in-depth information about how to strengthen your immune system to protect yourself from viral infections and how to manage your health if you are taken ill, take a look at my e-Book VIRUSES! – How to stop respiratory viral infections before you get sick.

I put aside a bit of time each month to help individuals with their questions and concerns. If you have questions or require additional information, don’t hesitate to contact my office for a free, fifteen-minute consultation.

You should also check out the following Dr Sandy audio downloads:

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