NC State Extension Publications

Clean Your Hands Often

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The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. Washing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses.

Handwashing steps:

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water
  2. Apply soap
  3. Lather and scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them

When to Wash Your Hands

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  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing

  • Before and after caring for someone that is sick

  • After going to the bathroom

  • Before and after preparing food

  • During food preparation as needed

  • Before eating food

Cleaning and Disinfection

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Current evidence suggests that novel coronavirus may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces. Cleaning followed by disinfection is recommended by the CDC as a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in households and community settings.

Appropriate Cleaners for Surfaces

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Clean surfaces using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection. CDC recommends diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and compounds on the EPA-recommended list, Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2.

For diluting bleach follow manufacturer's instructions for application and proper ventilation. Prepare a bleach solution by mixing: 5 tablespoons (13 cup) bleach per gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water. Use containers of bleach that have been opened no longer than 30 days.

If Cleaning up After an Infected Individual

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Wear disposable gloves while cleaning and discard after cleaning. Follow glove removal procedure to avoid contaminating hands (How to Remove Gloves). Wash your hands after removing gloves. Clean any porous surfaces (carpets, clothing, linens, etc.) with appropriate cleaners and/or launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting. Dry completely. Do not shake dirty laundry. This will minimize the possibility of spreading virus through the air.


Extension Associate
Agricultural & Human Sciences
Area Specialized Agent, Consumer and Retail Food Safety
Agricultural & Human Sciences
Extension Food Safety Specialist and Associate Professor
Agricultural & Human Sciences

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Publication date: March 18, 2020

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