We can’t stop thinking about what’s going on with coronavirus right now, so instead of going back to our normal programming, we’ve interviewed our Food Safety Director to get into the science of COVID-19, how it behaves, and what really works to eliminate it. Read on to learn some tips and tricks for staying safe if your local store is out of hand sanitizer and lysol wipes!
What is it?
COVID-19 is a virus, and is in the same family of viruses as illnesses like SARS. Viruses are not alive and cannot replicate without a living cell to infect. However, viruses can survive on surfaces for days. This means if your cell phone is contaminated, it can live on there for a while, but it won’t get larger. You'll want to wipe it down to prevent any further spread.
Handwashing with Soap:
Coronaviruses are typically coated in lipids, which means they are essentially covered in oil to protect themselves. Soap is a surfactant, and is able to shred this protective coat. So, scrubbing your hands with soap and water works to break up the protective lipid coat, reducing the virus’ ability to survive. A fun little trick is to sing the alphabet song while you wash your hands, which is just about equal to the recommended 20 wash time to really scrub those lipids away!
See this cool video on how soap works!
Hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol content are effective against coronaviruses (but still cannot beat a good handwashing!). Instead of killing and washing away the virus completely, hand sanitizer uses rubbing alcohol to denature the proteins that make up a virus.
Hack alert: While we wouldn’t recommend doing this often, alcohol wipes are a good substitute for hand sanitizer if you have some on hand in your trusted first aid kit.
If you aren’t able to find those coveted lysol wipes at your local store, don’t get price gauged - get creative! Below are a few other options for wiping down your strollers, bikes, doorknobs, computers and anything else that you touch (and aren’t worried could be ruined by the products below)!
Bleach: Sodium Hypochlorite, which is the active ingredient in bleach, causes damage to the virus, preventing it from infecting a living cell (ie: you!)
How to use bleach to disinfect: Use 4 oz of bleach for each gallon of water (though check your bleach for specific directions as bleach concentrations vary!). Apply this solution to surfaces, and allow the solution to remain on the surface for at least 5 minutes. Make sure you change your bleach solution frequently - the active disinfectant will react with any cells that are on the surface, like bacteria or food debris, so it can be “used up” if the surface is dirty or highly contaminated. And don’t do this in your favorite black jeans.
Hydrogen Peroxide: When used as a sanitizer, this product forms molecules that destroy the genetic material in viruses.
How to use hydrogen peroxide to disinfect: Use the recommended dilution rate from the manufacturer. Apply this solution to surfaces, and allow the surface to remain wet with the solution for the recommended contact time, usually at least 3 to 5 minutes.
For both bleach or peroxide-based cleaners, longer contact times (how long the surface stays wet with the solution) will be more effective. Letting the surface air dry will allow for the most effective disinfection.
If you have any other tips or science questions, leave them in the comments below! Red Rabbit is hoping to stay open in service to the kids during these tough times, so if you know of anyone in need of a fresh meal please do not hesitate to reach out.