COVID-19 precautions: Six sanitisation and disinfection mistakes people may still be making

The sanitisation and disinfection practices will protect against all types of viral, bacterial and fungal infections.

Myupchar June 15, 2020 14:20:35 IST
COVID-19 precautions: Six sanitisation and disinfection mistakes people may still be making

Proper sanitisation and disinfection of all surfaces, including your hands, is one of the primary non-pharmaceutical interventions that everybody, from the World Health Organisation (WHO) to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Union health ministry, has recommended for the prevention of COVID-19 infection. Even though the lockdowns are now being lifted and the economy is gradually opening up again, the pandemic is far from over.

This means that you have to continue taking precautions against COVID-19. And that works out fine because the sanitisation and disinfection practices recommended can provide you and your loved ones with protection against all types of viral, bacterial and fungal infections.

But you have to do these things right to make them effective. Making mistakes will not only render these practices useless but can also pose dangers you didn’t anticipate. So, here are six sanitisation and disinfection mistakes that you’re probably still making, but shouldn’t:

1. Using bleach without protection

Whether the bleach you’re using is a sodium hypochlorite solution or a hydrogen peroxide one, you have to remember that these are chemical compounds and not meant to come in direct contact with your skin. You’re not supposed to drink it, gargle with it, or touch it without protective gloves one - no matter how diluted in water it may be. Not only can these chemical compounds harm your skin, but if they enter your body in any way, your internal organs could burn and that could turn fatal too.

2. Spraying disinfectants on all surfaces

You might have observed municipality-led disinfection spraying drives from across the world. You might also have seen people being sprayed with disinfectants. The WHO said in mid-May 2020 that this type of disinfectant spraying is not only ineffective — because it doesn’t cover all surfaces that are considered to be “reservoirs of infections” — but highly dangerous. The chemicals can affect your skin and body. A single brush against such a disinfected surface can land you in trouble when residue is indirectly transmitted to your food or drinking water.

3. Using soap/detergent to clean groceries

Soaps and detergents might clean your clothes, but using them on your food products is as bad an idea as using bleach on fruits and vegetables. Even if you wash these food products thoroughly with water after dunking them in soapy water, the chemical residues can stick to them and enter your body on consumption. Washing veggies in warm water and cooking them thoroughly should be enough.

4. Using too much sanitiser/soap

A few drops of soap or sanitiser are all you need to properly disinfect or sanitise your hands. Taking too much of either to clean your hands won’t help you stay clean for longer or clean you more in any way. Instead, it can remove the moisture from your skin and lead to irritation, rashes and other skin issues. Remember to moisturise after every wash too.

5. Using DIY sanitisers with little or no alcohol

Any sanitiser you make at home should contain 80 percent ethanol or 75 percent isopropanol, and the proportion should be 2:1 of alcohol to aloe vera gel. These proportions ensure that the total alcohol level of the sanitiser is 60 percent -- which is the recommended lower limit you need to kill germs. If your alcohol levels are lower, you can use as much of it as you want but it wouldn’t be as effective.

6. Cooking, touching surfaces after sanitising

Touching any other object moments after using a sanitiser all over your hands can contaminate that object too. Let your hands dry completely before touching any other surfaces, especially someone else’s skin or any food products. Also, avoid going near a stove immediately after as sanitizers are flammable.

For more information, read our article on Disinfection and cleaning during COVID-19.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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