Is the time of obsessive coronavirus cleaning over?

Are you still obsessively cleaning to try to fend off the coronavirus? A local scientist says it’s time to stop.

“We can stop spraying down the groceries and wiping down the mail,” said Donald Milton, a professor of occupational environmental health at the University of Maryland School of Public Health.

He said scientists have learned a lot about the coronavirus over this past year, and the fear of contracting the virus from touching something someone else touched isn’t something that we necessarily need to be worried about.

“Let’s not put bad chemicals all over everything. Let’s just keep our hands clean,” Milton said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recently updated its cleaning guidelines for the coronavirus because of recent studies.

The CDC said that while the virus that causes COVID-19 can land on surfaces, and it’s possible for people to become infected if they touch those surfaces and then touch their nose, mouth, or eyes, the risk of infection from touching a surface is low in most situations.

The most reliable way to prevent infection from surfaces, the CDC said, is to regularly wash hands or use hand sanitizer.

The CDC said there’s a 1-in-10,000 chance of contracting the coronavirus from a contaminated surface.

“It’s not mainly happening by touching contaminated surfaces. We can stop doing all the hygiene theater,” Milton said.

Instead, he said, the best ways to prevent the virus are to wear a mask and practice social distancing.

“It does seem like the main way that people are getting infected is by breathing and breathing air that is containing exhaled breath particles from people nearby,” Milton said.

The CDC said that when no people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 are known to have been in a space, cleaning once a day with a disinfectant from the Environmental Protection Agency’s list is usually enough.

If there is a high transmission of the coronavirus among the people you are close with, or if they are at a high risk for the coronavirus, and most of them around aren’t wearing masks or washing their hands frequently, the CDC said, you might want to increase the frequency that you clean commonly touched surfaces.

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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