If you’re still disinfecting just about everything you own to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it’s time to stop.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance Monday for how to clean and disinfect surfaces properly to prevent the spread of COVID-19 at home and in facilities.
The agency now says, by and large, good old fashioned cleaning with soap and water or detergent can protect against COVID-19 infections just fine.
You don’t need to waste time trying to completely obliterate this virus on surfaces using sprays and disinfectant.
“In most situations, regular cleaning of surfaces with soap and detergent — not necessarily disinfecting those surfaces — is enough to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said on Monday during the White House’s COVID-19 briefing.
A growing body of research shows that regular soap and water cleaning is usually enough to wash away this virus and prevent infections. It’s more important to worry about wearing a mask in public and avoiding person to person spread of COVID-19 through close contact.
“People can be infected through contact with contaminated surfaces, but I mean, really the risk is low, based on the science,” a CDC spokesperson who helped develop the agency’s new guidance told Insider.
Effective cleaning removes germs from surfaces. Disinfecting goes a step further, by killing them on the spot.
But disinfection for the coronavirus, which is a respiratory virus that is most often spread through person to person contact, is not really necessary most of the time.
Former Florida state toxicologist David Krause, an independent expert who used to chair the American Industrial Hygiene Association’s indoor environmental quality committee, generally agrees with the CDC’s new stance on cleaning and disinfecting.
“I’m a full advocate of soap and water effective cleaning,” he told Insider. “You’re better off trying to physically capture [the coronavirus] and remove it than you are trying to destroy its genetic capabilities.”
Applying disinfectant without properly cleaning surfaces first “consumes most of the disinfectant,” Krause said, and just spreads germs around.