Spring Cleaning for Your Health

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By News Team on April 2, 2020

Spring cleaning has taken on an entirely new meaning in 2020.

It used to mean a once-a-year deep cleaning of things that we tend to ignore throughout the year. In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it now means the opposite: thorough and diligent ongoing cleaning of the surfaces and items we use the most.

Regardless of the extent to which your household has been adhering to social distancing guidelines over the past few weeks, new habits are called for to keep the virus at bay. The information below can help—and so it doesn't feel completely different than life before COVID-19, we've included some traditional health-related spring cleaning tips too.

Clean and Disinfect Your Home

Of course, the floor-scrubbing and linen-washing that we associate with spring cleaning has its own benefits. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology has found that spring cleaning can remove significant allergens from the home environment, such as pet dander, dust and mold.

Follow these tips to clean safely:

  • If you are using commercial cleaners, wear gloves and work in well-ventilated areas
  • Keep your face covered when changing air filters and cleaning moldy areas
  • Enlist help to move heavy furniture

To prevent the spread of COVID-19, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers detailed guidelines for cleaning your home. Put on disposable gloves to protect your skin, open the windows for ventilation, and get started:

  • Clean high-touch surfaces with soap and water. These include tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, cabinet pulls, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, bathroom fixtures, remote controls, etc.
  • Disinfect nonporous surfaces using household disinfectants, diluted bleach solutions or 70% alcohol solutions. Be sure to leave the surface wet at least as long as the instructions recommend.
  • Clean and disinfect soft surfaces like rugs and curtains with soap and water followed by household disinfectants. Launder items if possible, using the warmest possible water and drying completely.
  • Add protective steps to your laundry routine, including wearing disposable gloves, cleaning and disinfecting hampers, and refraining from shaking dirty laundry.

Visit the CDC website for more additional guidance for arranging and cleaning your home when someone there is sick.

Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet

Now is a great time to dispose of any prescriptions, over-the-counter medications and dietary supplements that have expired or that you or your family members no longer take.

"That includes prescriptions that have changed," said Carilion Clinic Pharmacy Director Adrian Wilson. "Be sure and notify your pharmacy of any changes so that they can update their records."
Now is not the time, however, to box them up to bring to your pharmacy for disposal. Stay home and follow the guidance from Virginia’s attorney general for home disposal:

  • Crush and dissolve medications with water and add coffee grounds or kitty litter to prevent children or pets from ingesting them
  • Place the mixture in a sealed container and throw in the trash
  • Remove identifying information from packaging before placing in the trash or recycling bin

As part of keeping your medicine cabinet current, check your first-aid kit and make sure it still contains everything you might need in case of an emergency.

Keep in mind that Carilion Clinic Pharmacy offers a free mail-order service for any maintenance medications you need, as well as being able to refill them 30 days early. Call 540-853-0905 for assistance—our team can transfer your prescriptions for you if you use another pharmacy.

Clean Out Your Refrigerator

That fuzzy science experiment in the back of the fridge needs to go! Throw out anything that has begun to rot or smell, and scrub each drawer and surface with warm, soapy water.

To restock, bring home a variety of fresh, healthy foods along with the shelf-stable staples you're picking up at the grocery store.

When you get home, wash your hands, disinfect the surfaces you touched along the way, and wash your fruits and vegetables with soap and water before putting them away.

Hint: Instead of hiding vegetables away in the crisper drawer, after you wash them, chop them into snack-sized pieces and store them in clear containers where you are more likely to see them—and snack on them.

Refresh Your Resolutions

Spring is typically a great time to assess your progress, but this year, it's a good time to reassess your goals—and your strategy for reaching them. 

Fitness goals have added challenges now as parks and greenways close and social distancing eliminates team sports and group activities for the time being. Guidance from our Wilderness Medicine expert can help. 

Breaking bad habits can be a challenge during stressful times. Carilion Clinic's Addiction Task Force has guidance for both social drinkers and those in recovery

And getting creative now requires a bit more creative thinking. Our Healing Arts team has some ideas to use literary, visual and performing arts to reduce stress and express yourself.

Whatever you are doing for spring cleaning and ongoing disinfecting, remember to take breaks as needed.

"We’re in for a marathon, not a sprint,” says Family Medicine physician John Epling, M.D., “so keep in mind your future goals, and organize your time at home to achieve those goals.”

Carilion Clinic message saying wash your hands and stay home when you are sick

Visit CarilionClinic.org/coronavirus for up-to-date information about our response to COVID-19. Call our Community Hotline for general questions about symptoms, resources, guidelines and more,

COVID-19 Community Hotline

Monday - Friday, 8 a.m - 5 p.m.

Do not call the Community Hotline to make appointments, or to request testing or test results. For information about COVID-19 and your personal health, talk with your primary care provider