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Walk Away from the Bleach: CDC Revises Disinfectant Guidelines

The CDC released updated guidelines for surface cleaning in households to combat COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has announced that disinfecting everyday household surfaces with bleach is, for the most part, not necessary when it comes to combating COVID-19 on surfaces.

The new guidance update on how to clean surfaces in order to limit the spread of COVID-19 says that in most situations when there has been no known COVID-19 exposure, soap and water or appropriate cleaning products will do just fine when cleaning compared to bleach wipes, deep cleans, and caustic sprays. 

The CDC guidance says routine disinfection at home is only recommended when there are confirmed COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours. Here’s what to know.

What Does The Guidance Mean?

The guidance, which should help the more anal-retentive cleaners among us calm down a little bit about the daily bleach schedule, suggests that “routine cleaning performed effectively with soap or detergent… once per day, can substantially reduce virus levels of surfaces.”

The CDC says that cleaning regularly-touched surfaces routinely, after you have visitors (like doorknobs, tables, handles, and countertops), cleaning other surfaces when they are visibly dirty or as needed (i.e. stick to your normal cleaning routine), and using the product suitable for each surface is fine.

The guidance, per ABC News echoes what has been known about the virus among experts for some time: that, because of the way that COVID-19 is transmitted through the air, and because it is largely a respiratory virus, there is a low risk of the virus being transmitted from people touching surfaces that have COVID-19 particulate on them.

The guidance says now, for the first time, that routinely using disinfectants like bleach or Lysol to limit COVID-19 spread actually has very little scientific backing because of the way the virus spreads, and only recommends the practice when there is confirmed COVID-19 at home.

How Should You Proceed?

With sweet relief! Relax a little! Yes, clean regularly touched surfaces regularly as you normally would, but soap and water or the right cleaning product will do just fine. Clean when things are visibly dirty, and after having visitors. You’re only recommended to use bleach, disinfectants, or other products of the like when there’s COVID-19 in the household or COVID-19 exposure.

Otherwise, know that washing your hands with soap and water, and keeping a safe distance from people outside of your household while wearing a mask, is still the best practice for keeping safe from COVID (with the exception of getting vaccinated, of course.)