Disinfecting grocery, phone and mail

Should we disinfect groceries, phone, mail

Do we need to disinfect groceries, phone, keyboard,  mail and take outs? Self-quarantine helps us to be safe. However, even after so much precautions taken care, still sometimes outside items can bring microbes inside home. We bring groceries, get posts or amazon/FedEx delivers online shopping items front of door. Many restaurants and grocery shops offering to deliver stuffs straight home to avoid any contact with COVID-19.

Question is do these items that we get need to be sanitized, if so how?

According to CDC coronavirus is “thought to spread mainly from person to person through close contact. When the respiratory droplets of infected person (through sneezing and coughing) falls on other individual or individuals  it could lead to COVID-19 disease” For this reason, experts around the globe recommended social distancing and hand washing.

When we come in contact with high -touch areas, we must wash our hands. Generally, microbes are present in high touch areas such as

  • Toilet seat and cover
  • Toilet flush
  • Door handles and doorknobs
  • Light switches
  • Sinks
  • Faucets
  • Hand towels
  • Handbags, recycle bags, tote bags
  • Car steering wheels
  • Furnitures
  • Reusable bags
  • Appliances – door handle
  • Shopping carts and baskets
  • Phones, desks and keyboards
  • ATM machines

These are the highest touch places that we come across daily and experts say that we must focus on disinfecting these areas. High touch places or areas pose high risk for disease transmission. We are likely to touch our face, eye, nose or hair after coming in contact with any of the above listed places/areas. The surfaces you need to be concerned about are surfaces that are touched by other people.”

These areas should be cleaned and sanitized daily and regularly with proper disinfecting liquid – Alcohol, Hydrogen peroxide etc. Use towelette or spray the liquid to remove virus or microbes.

How to handle groceries, mail and shipping materials?

Handling groceries: According to experts, when it comes to COVID-19, transmission of the virus via food and food packages is at low risk. The risk is, coming in close contact with a person who is positive for COVID-19 when we go for grocery shopping. Many stores are supplying disinfectants, hand sanitizers and wipes to clean the cart. Use it to clean the shopping cart and basket handles. Once you back home wash hands thoroughly.

Says Don Schaffner, Professor of Food Microbiology (Rutgers University) “I am not recommending disinfecting your groceries. This seems like being overly cautious. We don’t know of any cases of Covid-19 transmitted by food, nor of any cases transmitted by food packaging”

Just for precaution -If you have purchased items that are in plastic bags, wipe the outside of the plastic bags and store them. Milk packets -rinse in water before cutting it open to pour milk. Canned items – rinse cans under running water.  Vegetables and fruits – it is always a good practice to wash produces as you do always!

To ensure disinfecting microbes from your reusable bags, wash and clean your reusable bags which are also considered as high touch items. Wash bags in hot water the way you wash your clothes. Those bags that cannot be washed can be wiped using disinfectant wipes.

Take out from restaurants:

  • Maintain social distance with restaurant personnel and other customers. The chance of getting viral transmission through payment method is very less. If you are afraid, instead of using card or pay by cash, use contactless payment or touch-free payment method.
  • Most restaurant workers and food handlers will wear gloves and masks. The chance of getting sick through paper bag, food containers or pizza boxes is very low.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly before eating food at home.
  • Transfer the food from takeout containers to your plates.
  • Discard all delivery box appropriately – recycle or trash -where they belong.
  • Wash your hands again and store left over food in proper containers.

How about sanitizing mail and packages?

You don’t need to sanitize the packages or envelops or mails that you receive.  According to WHO there is no evidence of COVID-19 transmitting through postal mails. These materials pose a low risk of transmitting the virus. Avoid contact with delivery person, keep distance while receiving or signing the package. Clean your postal mailbox like the way your clean your email inbox but with soap water. Once your open the mail, recycle envelops and wash your hands says experts.

Phones, desks and keyboards:

  • These three items are frequently touched surfaces (CDC). You can wipe the desk using disinfectant wipes. You should not use a dripping wipe to wipe the phone or keyboard because all gadgets cannot handle the moisture or solvents.
  • Unplug your phone or tablet before cleaning them.
  • Do not spray disinfectant on the phones or other gadgets.  Use a soft cloth to wipe the debris or dust.
  • Contact the manufacturer to understand how to clean the phones or the device? For example, Apple iPhone support page says, you can clean your phone using 70% isopropyl alcohol or Clorox disinfectant wipes.
  • If you are in doubt, then best is buying a phone case and screen protector and wipe it down with soft cloth and rubbing alcohol. This protects the device.
  • To clean keyboard or computer screen like Apple products use 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes. Clean laptop bags with proper method or as recommended by manufacturer.


Image credit: Photo by Matilda Wormwood from Pexels
(Free for commercial use)

Author: Sumana Rao | Posted on: March 30, 2020

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