Spring Cleaning Your Home During and After COVID-19


With the onset of COVID-19, spring cleaning has an entirely new meaning. Now, more than ever, it is important to disinfect and sanitize your home as part of your cleaning ritual. However, bear in mind that if you are performing a big purge of household items, you will not be able to place them curbside for pick up while waste collection systems nationwide are experiencing a strain – due to the #StayatHome order. Therefore, to keep our communities and trash haulers safe, please focus efforts on cleaning up, not cleaning out. Here are some suggestions for spring cleaning without creating excess waste:

  1. Sanitize and Disinfect: According to the CDC, COVID-19 can live on surfaces for an extended amount of time. Make it a weekly routine to sanitize and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Cell phones, doorknobs, cabinet handles, sinks, kitchen countertops, and toilet seats. Sanitizing reduces the growth of germs and bacteria while disinfecting “kills” the germs and bacteria. Here is a list of cleaning products that are effective against COVID-19, according to the EPA.
  2. Open Up and Air Out: Good air ventilation helps to keep COVID from lingering. Open up two windows on opposite sides of the room to ventilate the air. Opt for windows and circulating air as often as you can.
  3. Donate to Goodwill: With the closure of some second-hand clothing stores, consider looking into Red Cross or other donation organizations that you may be able to ship or deliver some of your unwanted items. Other items, including diapers and canned food, may still be accepted at shelters and food banks. Consider donating old ski or swim goggles to be used as PPE. Contact local health facilities, postal offices, and other maintenance organizations to see what items they may be in need of.
  4. Yard Work: Check to see if your community has already made changes to recycling regulations. Some are suspending yard waste, bulk item pickup, and special collection services until further notice. If yard waste pick up has already waned in your neighborhood, see if you are able to drop off your yard waste at your local transfer station. You can also consider starting your own compost pile. Otherwise, bag up and store the debris until your local hauler is collecting again.
  5. Repurpose: Several households contain items that may be repurposed into masks to help slow the spread of the virus. The CDC is advising people to wear masks and/or cloth face coverings in public settings. Household materials you were considering discarding, such as bandanas and t-shirts, can also be transformed into a mask without any sewing required – by using rubber bands or hair ties. To protect yourself from the virus after use, be sure to toss it into the washing machine. If you wish to learn more about repurposing household items into masks check it out here.
  6. Freshen Up: Run all your comforters and linens through the wash. Open and clean the windows. Dust all your surfaces with an EPA cleaning agent. Pull out the summer clothes and toss the winter ones into the wash to be packed away for the warmer season. Empty out the fridge and clean it out with EPA sanitizer. Flip your mattresses, wipe down your blinds, and move large appliances to mop the floors beneath them.

Take the Keep America Beautiful® Spring Cleaning Challenge
Sheltering in place is healthy, helps flatten the curve, and it’s a great opportunity to sort through and organize. Post a before and after picture to show how you’ve transformed your space. Tag Keep America Beautiful on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram and use the hashtags #BeautifulSpringCleaning and #DoBeautifulThings.

For information on how to recycle during COVID-19, click here.

Please note: COVID-19 is reported to live on surfaces for an extended period of time, according to a recent study:

  • Airborne, for up to 3 hours (e.g. sneezing, coughing, etc.)
  • Clothing – from several hours up to a day
  • Up to 4 hours on copper
  • Up to 24 hours on cardboard – leave those deliveries on a porch or somewhere safe outside for one day
  • Up to 2-3 days on plastic and stainless steel
  • Up to 4 days on glass surfaces like a smartphone

General health and safety:

  1. Exercise physical distancing and wear a mask when required to interact with others.
  2. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, and before eating or preparing food. (CDC)
  3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. (CDC)
  4. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. (CDC)