Confession: I’m not a health expert. But I am someone who can’t find any disinfectant anywhere — not even online.
I also have common sense.
The other night, I tried to buy cleaning supplies. My stores were sold out of everything. So is Amazon. You can’t find UVC lights anywhere — not for an affordable price, that arrive anytime soon. (I’m pretty sure half the people who bought these are about to melt their skin off…)
Anything made of copper is flying off the shelves.
Even paper towels are gone.
We’re lucky enough to have a few things on hand, but we have to make them last for weeks. The one thing we do have: plenty of soap and water for our hands. And bags. We’ll be fine. Here’s our strategy.
Don’t waste your disinfectant
The muggles are hoarding disinfectant as a substitute for street smarts. They flout social distancing guidelines, thinking six gallons of hand sanitizer and disinfectant spray will save them.
Watch this guy douse his coffee:
Yeah, he sprays his coffee a million times with disinfectant, then flips the lid off entirely. What an effective asshole. Does he even realize how much disinfectant he’s about to drink? I guess that’s why he pours a third of his coffee on the ground before driving off.
This is why the rest of us can’t find anything, not even napkins. It’s okay, though. Because I’ve figured out a simple system.
You don’t have to hoard disinfectant.
You just have to be smart.
1. Stay the hell home
The less you go out, the less chance of touching the wrong surface, or breathing around the wrong person.
Staying home is cheap.
The experts agree: There’s no urgent need to disinfect your house if your family practices serious social-distancing. These days, staying home is much less stressful. You know exactly where you’ve been. Staying home, your odds of contracting COVID-19 don’t change much.
But sometimes you have to go out.
We’ll get to that.
2. Buy less stuff
The less you buy (including online), the less you have to disinfect. I know, it’s tough. We’re used to ordering whatever we want, and it shows up on our doorstep 1–2 days later. You can’t do that right now.
Also, not buying stuff is cheap.
The only thing you should be buying are essentials. If you want to support your local businesses, order gift cards online.
And for whatever you desperately need…
3. Use the three-day rule
In case you don’t know, the coronavirus can last 72 hours max on plastic, and even less on other surfaces. It only lasts 24 hours on cardboard.
You can use this to your advantage.
It just takes a little patience. Whatever you buy, put it up on a shelf. Then go wash your hands with soap. Wait three days before you open it. That essentially guarantees zero virus.
For most things: If you truly need it, or really want it that badly, you can wait an extra three days.
Except for milk. I’m getting to that…
4. Make a COVID shelf or two
My family has re-purposed two shelves to put anything we buy or get through the mail. If it’s non-perishable, it waits three days.
What about fruits and vegetables?
5. Always wash your produce
Put your fruits and vegetables somewhere out of the way. Wash them with soap and water right before using them.
You were always supposed to be doing this… It’s the only safe way to remove malicious microbes.
6. Re-bag whatever you buy
Experts agree that you shouldn’t worry that much about picking up viruses from the surfaces of groceries you buy. You’re more likely to get sick from being around asymptomatic carriers.
But we’re a little paranoid right now, so…
7. About your milk…
Your refrigerated goods (like milk) can’t sit on a shelf for three days. So either disinfect them, or wash them down real good with soap and water. It’s better than nothing. You have to lather and scrub. Then rinse.
Do this in a clean sink. Then wash your hands. After, put a bag around your milk for good measure.
Any kind of bag (other than one from the store…)
That way, you touch the bag whenever using it — not the milk. You probably have lots of kinds of bags lying around. Freezer bags. Trash bags. A few bags from whatever last thing you bought before the pandemic. See, bags are useful to keep on hand.
7. Conserve your strong disinfectants
You don’t need a thousand alcohol wipes. What you should mainly worry about are what experts call the high-touch surfaces — door knobs, car door handles, faucets, refrigerator handles, etc.
There’s no point in wiping down your groceries or takeout a hundred times if you’re not wiping down the high-touch areas and washing your hands regularly. Here’s what I do:
- Arrange grocery pickup (days in advance these days)
- After picking up groceries, come straight home
- Leave “going out” shoes outside
- Open bathroom door with elbows
- Immediately wash hands
- Disinfect front door knob (outside and inside)
- Unbag all groceries outside
- Put all refrigerated stuff in sink
- Wash my hands
- Scrub and rinse milk, hummus, etc, with soap
- Wash my hands
- Dry and bag refrigerated goods
- Wash my hands
- Put everything else on a shelf for three days
- Wash my hands
This is a sustainable method of buying groceries, one that doesn’t consume all the world’s disinfectant. It ensures beyond reasonable doubt that I’m not spreading coronavirus all over my house.
8. Disinfectant should be the extra guarantee
Yeah, yesterday I forgot to kick my “going out” shoes off before I came in. So I promptly poured one tablespoon of Pine-sol into a bowl of water, swirled with a rag, and wiped off where I’d stepped.
I disinfect my “going out” shoes between trips, but only the ones where I have to go inside a store instead of arranging a pickup.
9. It shouldn’t be the go-to
If you’re smart and patient, you don’t need to bathe everything you buy in alcohol wipes. You don’t have to douse everything with Lysol. This is lazy. And it’s also not that healthy.
Coating everything in disinfectant is bound to have an adverse affect on your body at some point.
Anything that can kill you if ingested isn’t something you want to be painting on every surface you touch.
You can’t panic-spray your life
Eventually, almost all of us are going to catch this virus. No amount of disinfectant will prevent that. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the assholes of the world who go around spewing Lysol on everything aren’t the ones most at risk. Self-fulfilling prophesy is a bitch.
When you rely on chemicals, you don’t use your head. And your head is how you survive a pandemic.
Smart people are just trying to stay home as much as possible, wash their hands often, and wait until our healthcare systems can get a grip on this thing. Even then, you still might get it.
So that’s it. Buy less. Stay home more. Use the three-day rule. Wash what you can and put a bag around it. Wash your hands frequently. Only disinfect high-touch surfaces, not every single thing that moves.
That might sound hard, but it’s a lot easier than being the asshole in the drive-thru window of a coffee shop.