Many of us suddenly have more time on our hands (when we’re not meticulously washing them) to devote to house projects. From cleaning and disinfecting to organizing and purging, consider working your way through your home during this unexpected downtime. Aside from protecting yourself from catching (or spreading) the virus, you can achieve a nice sense of accomplishment.

Cleaning vs. disinfecting

First things first: feel confident that you’re disinfecting your house. Cleaning means removing germs and dirt from surfaces, while disinfecting means using chemicals to kill them. When it comes to avoiding COVID-19 in your home, you must disinfect. Read the Center for Disease Control’s detailed steps for cleaning and disinfecting your home here, which also includes information on how best to clean and disinfect when a household member is sick.

Tips for daily disinfecting

Make a list of high-touch surfaces you (and everyone you share your home with) put your hands on every day:

Feel confident that you’re disinfecting your house as you clean. Photo credit: Stacee Sledge
  • doorknobs
  • toilet handles
  • faucets
  • cabinet and drawer pulls
  • the refrigerator handle
  • tv remotes
  • electronic devices
  • game controllers
  • keyboards

Then take the time every day to disinfect these surfaces. If you’ve got disinfecting wipes, great—use those to swipe things down at the end or beginning of each day; just make it part of your daily routine.

You can also make your own sanitization wipes using a roll of paper towels, bleach, water, and an airtight container with a lid in which to store them.

  1. Cut a roll of paper towels in half at the center so that it now resembles two toilet paper rolls
  2. Mix 2 cups of water with 1 Tablespoon of bleach
  3. Insert the paper towel roll into the container
  4. Pour solution over the paper towel (you may not need all of the solution)

Find an old, forgotten package of disinfecting wipes? Don’t toss the dried-out sheets; a little rubbing alcohol will revive them.

Extra precautions when returning from running essential errands

If you must leave the house to run an essential errand, you can take extra precautions to avoid bringing any unwanted guests back with you.

Remove your shoes at the door and spray alcohol on the tops and bottoms. Do not sit on any furniture. Remove clothing and put directly in washer. Want to feel extra-secure? Take a shower and brush your teeth.

Organization is more fun than you think

One popular meme flying around social media reads: “After years of wanting to thoroughly clean my house but lacking the time, this week I discovered that wasn’t the reason.”

After feeling frustrated for months by a jumbled entry closet, it took just 15 minutes to tame. Photo credit: Stacee Sledge

But think about it: The last time you managed to purge a storage space (also sometimes called a guest room) or re-organized the silverware drawer, didn’t it feel…great?

Inevitably, things pile back up in nooks and crannies and you lose track of your favorite sweater in that black hole you call a closet—because, hey, life is hectic and bigger things take priority. And if you’re anything like me, you hear (and push aside) that voice inside your head that says, you should really get that under control.

The good news is, control is much faster than you think. You can start small. Empty out the kitchen junk drawer and only put back the essential things you really use and need. Want extra motivation? Snap a “before” photo with your phone, and then an “after.” You don’t have to share it with anyone else—you can even delete it—but seeing those shots side-by-side can feel so satisfying—and motivate you to plan your next organizing project.

Since the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, I’ve spent some time nearly every evening accomplishing one tidying task. The front closet has caused me headaches for a long time; less than 15 minutes of pulling out items we no longer use, reorganizing and tidying, and I was thrilled with the result.

A pile of magazines and no-longer-needed paperwork awaits recycling and shredding. Photo credit: Stacee Sledge

I have a stack of boxes in the basement that hold old papers and sentimental items from my childhood and my children’s. Every couple of days, I take a box to a comfortable spot, sift through it all, and find that much of it doesn’t actually need to be saved. My recycling bin is filling up quickly—and a bankers box in the garage, earmarked for shredding—but so is my peace of mind that I’m not leaving piles of receipts and unnecessary paperwork for my kids to one day deal with.

All gently used items in our home that will eventually go to the Assistance League of Bellingham thrift store or to Goodwill get taken straight to my car trunk to eventually be donated.

There are plenty of reasons to feel stress and strain during these unprecedented, uncertain times, but focusing on the things you can do really helps.

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