Coronavirus is impacting almost every corner of the globe, causing a wave of stay-at-home orders.
At this time, it is still uncertain how long coronavirus survives on surfaces. The WHO estimates that the virus can linger from a few hours or a few days.
How to Clean Your Groceries to Avoid COVID-19
Unfortunately, we all still need to eat. Which means grocery shopping yourself, using a service to facilitate store pickup or option for delivery. To keep yourself and your family healthy, it’s important to follow a few safety tips.
Staying Safe at the Grocery Store
We’re all wiping down all the surfaces in our homes regularly, so we’ve got cleaning wipes on-hand. If you’re running low or forget your stash, use the wipes at the store to thoroughly wipe down your shopping cart to basket.
According to the Huffington Post, it’s advised to scrub the handle of your cart. This means that you’ll want to do more than just a quick swipe. Put a little muscle into your cleaning.
If you’re shopping with a younger child, you should also wipe down the entire seat, including the metal parts of the cart.
Carry hand sanitizer with you. Use it after you clean off the cart. Then use it again after you have checked out.
Avoid using cash, if possible, Instead, use your credit card. If you need to sign a physical receipt, use your own pen.
This will help minimize the amount of possible transfer. Lots of people touch these places every day, and you don’t know how safe they are being right now.
You Touch It, You Buy It
Follow one simple rule at the store: if you touch a product, it becomes yours.
Yes, you do want the best produce and you need to check the ingredients list. Unfortunately, you and lots of other people are also touching all the things. And they might not have completed sanitation measures to eliminate possible germ transfer.
Instead of doing a touch test on produce, do a visual check for bumps and bruises. If you see something off, don’t buy that particular piece of fruit or veggie.
For packaged items, stick to what you know – especially if you have an allergy or dietary restriction. Now is perhaps not the time to try new brands or foods.
If you do need to pick up product, Huffington Post experts recommend using a plastic bag as a glove. Pick up the produce and immediately place it into another plastic bag or your own cloth produce bag. Tie the bag and stash it in your cart.
Avoid Contamination at Home
After you’ve secured the groceries, you need to bring them into your (sanitized) home.
Dr. Jeffery VanWingen shared his essential tips in a now-viral video.
He suggests setting up one surface, like a counter or table, as a cleaning space. Divide it into two zones: clean and not clean.
Use these main points from his video to help protect your family:
- wash produce, like fruits or veggies, in warm water and give a gentle scrub for about 20 seconds
- use a cleaning spray, like Lysol, and a paper towel to give all nonporous packaging a good wipe down; think: ice cream cartons, yogurt containers, bread bags, plastic bags of snacks
- move bread and other bagged items into a clean container, then seal it
- remove cereal bags and recycle boxes immediately
If you don’t want to do this cleaning process in your house, you could also do it outside.
Instead of two zones, have a “clean” bin to place groceries into after you’ve wiped them off.
Dr. VanWingen suggests skipping cloth or reuseable bags right now, in favor of single-use plastic bags. If you’d prefer to use your cloth bags, it’s important to clean them between grocery store trips. Good Housekeeping recommends popping cloth bags into the washing machine and giving plastic-y bags a good wipe down with warm soapy water.
Basic Safety Measures to Avoid COVID-19
First the good news: according to the CDC, it is not believed that coronavirus is transmitted via the GI tract. This means that you shouldn’t get sick if you eat food with COVID-19 germs on it.
However, since this is such a new disease, scientists are still working to understand its transmission and infection process.
To stay safe no matter where you are going, follow these basic safety precautions:
- wear a fabric mask or face covering, like this no-sew version
- wear gloves
- avoid touching objects unnecessarily
- pick off-peak times to visit shops and stores
- wash your hands frequently, especially after handling objects, coughing, or sneezing
- use hand sanitizer when you can’t wash your hands
- wipe down carts and shopping baskets with disinfecting wipes
The most important way to prevent the spread of coronavirus is to stay at home as much as possible. Limit your trips to essential needs only, like trips to the doctor, grocery store or pharmacy. Avoid gatherings of 10 or more people and stay at least 6 feet away from people outside of your immediate household.