We always hear the phrases “Wash your hands” and “Don’t touch your face” as common mantras. However, with the current aggressive stance, we are urged even more precautions. One of the things we worry about is infectious areas so we practice social distancing as a safeguard. And yet there are many common items that are in contact with our hands and face through other surfaces. Infected surfaces can potentially transfer bacteria that have access to our nasal and ear passages where we are most vulnerable.
What are the 10 most common items that we SHOULD pay attention to and how do we disinfect them to protect ourselves?
1. Cell phones
This is the most obvious and what people have been warning us repeatedly throughout the internet. You may even be reading this right now through your own smartphone. Cell phones are placed on several table surfaces. If we use the voice or phone function, they are in immediate contact with our face.
To disinfect, an alcoholic wipe is enough to clean the surfaces. The alcohol can affect the touch surface of the glass, so make sure it is dry before using it again.
Several people who are trying to avoiding touching their faces are opting for their eyeglasses rather than their contact lenses. And yet, sometimes we may put our glasses down on a communal surface for various reasons. Or while we are actively avoiding touching our faces, we adjust our glasses throughout the day to see better or make it more comfortable.
Eyeglasses are easy to disinfect using dishwashing liquid over the lenses. A microfiber or terry cloth towel is recommended to dry the lenses. Avoid using a cloth that could be abrasive and scratch the glasses.
While everyone is staying indoors, we become more reliant on accessing the world online, which means constant typing on keys. If you are working remotely, it can be a challenge to be mindful at other public spaces using our laptops. Your hands can touch another surface and then touch the keyboard without thinking about it. So it’s more important to be vigilant that the tool we use to access the outside world remains clean. This also applies to auxiliary items like computer mouses and tracking pads.
Keyboards and mouses can be sanitized using a disinfectant wipe. If you don’t have that, a soft linen-free cloth with rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol will do the trick. Also, be mindful if someone else uses your keyboards and sanitize accordingly.
4. Pens and pencils
Think about the number of sometimes pens are given to others to sign something or jot down a list. Writing utensils are some of the most used and touched items communally used by people we know. Also, pens and pencils are common items laying about on any surface. Some people subconsciously stick a pen or pencil in their mouth while thinking, this could be a wake-up call.And ultimately, no one ever thinks about sanitizing their pens.
A quick wipe with a cloth with alcohol or disinfecting wipe over the surface of a pen is enough to clean it. As for behaviors, try to use your own pens when possible and lend other pencils out. For those who have a habit of putting pencils in their mouth while thinking, chewing gum will help avoid this.
5. Doorknobs and handles
Doors, cabinets, and other structures we need to open and close are touched often as part of their function. While not as concerning in private spaces, in public spaces, it is an easy surface to become infected. Almost every room as a knob or handle so this is a universal concern.
A sanitizing spray and cloth over the surface of knobs and handles is sufficient enough to handle these communal surfaces. Speaking of handles, if you can open the door with your elbow or knuckle, use those instead of your hands. If you have access to a disposable towel or a tissue, using that would be the safest of all.
6. Light switches
As day turns into night, we activate several switches for room lights and lamps using our hands. Like doors, there is not as much concern in private spaces, but many people turn on lights automatically without thinking.
If you have access to remote switches, some lights can be turned on and off by voice command. There are apps with coordinated plugs through service devices like Google Home and Alexa and programmed via smartphone. Otherwise, we can use our knuckles to flip on the switch, or even an easy-to-handle item like a pen.
7. Headphones and earbuds
When jogging or working out and sometimes, we can’t exercise without music pumping through our listening devices. Or sometimes we want to listen to our podcasts in silence or want to keep our phone conversations private. If our listening devices come into direct contact with our ears after touching infected surfaces, this could transmit things easily.
Like other items, a disinfectant wipe or rubbing alcohol with cloth will make short work out of this. Also, avoid lending headphones unless completely necessary and then sanitize between sharing these devices.
Because we wash our hands often these days, we almost think there is a level of immunity when we go into the bathroom because we are being responsible. For the most part, this is relatively true, BUT the handle is touched several times but it’s not necessarily clean. This is more of caution if you know that someone interacting with the faucet is sick.
Keep a disinfecting spray in easy reach in your bathroom or kitchen sink. Otherwise, using paper towels to touch the handle of the faucet adds extra precaution. You can use the same towel to dry your hands to avoid wasting paper. While remaining safe, we need to maintain not using more paper than we need to keep resources stocked and available.
In the rare cases where we go out, we need our keys to make sure we aren’t locked out or can come back home. If keys are not in our personal possession, they are usually left on random surfaces. While this item is very unlikely to be used by other people, keys are items we touch daily with our hands. This includes any items that we use to access other areas, like passcards or key fobs, into offices.
Any disinfecting wipes, sprays, or rubbing alcohol and cloth will work since keys are metal and durable. In cases like passcards or key fobs, your IT office tech or security may have specific recommendations for those items.
10. Credit cards and ATM cards
Credit and ATM cards are important items that we may not use daily but are important to vital transactions. But the most commonly used items we touch in these transactions is the PIN pad where we enter our card. In places like banks and groceries, this is essential since so many people conduct business through those automated teller machines.
If you are using your card in a PIN pad, you can swipe or use a card without touching it. However, the buttons have to be pressed to complete your purchase.
If there is a hand sanitizer next to the pin pad or you have a personal bottle, use immediately after the transaction. The next best solution is to touch the pin pad through a piece of paper to safeguard yourself.