I was the woman who never washed a vegetable. Buying organic I figured it was good to keep soil residues on the produce, a bit of biome from the farm for the city dweller and so I thought “stuff it”. I was the least germ-phobic person you could have met and I didn’t run after my child with wipes through the toddler years. I have never had an issue sharing a drink with a friend or family member unless of course, they’re sick. My grandfather used to say being relaxed about germs is good for the immune system and I believe him. It’s largely proven to be true for us too. We and our boy are rarely sick from viral/bacterial illnesses.
That was the pre coronavirus me, however. Cut to today though, and I’m the germ police. “You should get changed since you’ve been to the park for a walk. Don’t sit on anything!!!” or “Don’t put the cardboard box on the bench before you disinfect it. Now we’ve got to disinfect the bench again!” I’m tearing through single-use gloves, plastic packed pantry staples and I’m unashamed because right now, it really, really matters of course. Today I laughed at my new me, while at the same time being proud, while I was wiping down tomato passata bottles with rubbing alcohol. True story. I’m staying relaxed about it but being very insistent on upholding the temporary standard for however long we need to. For my dose of health natural biome, instead, it’s walking in lush, uncrowded parks.
In terms of what I’m using though, I haven’t gone all out back to the mainstream cleaning aisle to dose up on things of old. No siree. There will be a tonne of marketing right now telling you you need ‘this’ and ‘that’ to ‘kill the virus’ but low tox steadily wins the race. Why? Soap and water are the most powerful fight bar none and there’s science to prove it. If you’d like to fully nerd out on the ninja powers of SOAP, read this by a professor of chemistry at the University of NSW. The ultimate soap nerd out piece.
So, in a world where we’re trying to slow and quell the power of this virus, what do we need to know and do? Viruses like coronavirus, chickenpox or Ebola need a host like bacteria or a living animal/body to survive. They cannot survive on a non-living surface if there is no living bacteria or cells that enable it to reproduce. It is only when a virus occupies a host cell that it’s able to replicate and mutate copies of itself and spread. Sounds delightful, doesn’t it?
How to stop yourself transferring the virus from one surface to another, to your face and into your delightful host body? Let’s look at what works.
It’s not possible to kill viruses with antibacterials but disinfecting or sterilising an environment will make it harder for a virus to proliferate, all the while lowering the risk of spreading infection. This we already know is the key approach to containing Covid-19. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) the best plan of action to reduce the spread and reduce infection is to wash your hands thoroughly or use an alcohol-based rub frequently while maintaining social distancing measures and avoiding the touching of your face. Of course, let’s not forget (and I cry laugh as I say “how could we forget!?”) staying at home is THE most important thing.
How washing your hands works to reduce the spread of viruses
According to virologist Dr. John Williams, chief of the division of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, soap and alcohol are very effective against dissolving the liquid coating of the virus and removing its outer layer. Washing your hands thoroughly with a soapy substance physically deactivates the virus, so it can’t bind to and enter human cells, to then spread through saliva.
How to approach your cleaning
The golden rule is to first clean with a detergent and water, then disinfect with an alcohol-based solution with at least 70% alcohol. Studies show that disinfectant products containing at least 62–71% ethanol, 0.5% hydrogen peroxide or 0.1% sodium hypochlorite can remove a virus within one minute.
Everyday cleaning methods applied with diligent scrubbing are adequate for reducing the spread. The choice of which product to use will come down to the surface you’re cleaning and the risk of contamination. If you’re cleaning a commonly used space or an area that is frequented by many people, you’ll want to ensure you’re using the strongest cleaning solution and wiping down the area consistently. The Australian Department of Health says you should use a disinfectant that claims “antiviral activity”, meaning it can kill a virus rather than just opting for an ‘antibacterial cleaner’ alone, that will not eliminate coronavirus.
So, a pro tip if you’re making your own cleaners or if you want to add some anti-viral power to your existing cleaners, there are a few essential oils that research shows, as Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD has written about, that have anti-viral power: Cinnamon, thyme, oregano, melissa, manuka, star anise, ginger and peppermint. BOOM. Add around 20 drops of the ones you have to your 500ml cleaner for extra power. If you fancy starting to make your own cleaners during this time, go to this post I wrote years ago with all the basics covered, to get you on track. Because the power of soap is so widely recommended, we’re using soapy water to clean down surfaces (Dr Bronner’s Sal Suds) along with our Thieves Young Living Household cleaner that contains a number of powerful oils in there, every few days and to mop the floor.
More great Low Tox Products to use
It’s super important to understand that products like hand sanitiser and disinfectant sprays are not enough to kill the virus on their own. The key here is to cover all bases with a multi-pronged attack. Use disinfectants alongside hot soapy water and sodium percarbonate to maximize the efficacy of your cleaning routine. Here are a few options:
Biome’s Oxygen Bleach – A powerful cleaner to use right now!
This product is 100% sodium percarbonate, with no fillers, synthetic fragrance, preservatives. Sodium Percarbonate or Oxygen Bleach, is less harsh, an environmentally-safe alternative to chlorine bleach, but must be mixed immediately before use in the correct dilution.
Rubbing alcohol from hardware stores, bottle shops or the cleaning aisle:
Rubbing alcohol products that are at least 70 per cent alcohol will also kill the coronavirus with less potential for damage than bleach.
Life Basics Hand Sanitiser
This Life Basics sanitiser from Nourished Life is made with 70% v/v alcohol and enriched with nourishing Aloe Vera and hydrating Green Tea.
Thieves Hand Sanitiser and Spray by Young Living.
The Thieves Spray is a 70% alc+ perfect for doorknobs, loo seats and handles as well as a sanitiser. If you need help setting up an account, it’s a network marketing model and I’ve had an account for my favourites in the range and their gorgeous oils, for over 5 years. You can read more here on that front. Good story, the Thieves range got its name because, during the plague, there were Thieves who stole from those who’d died and miraculously didn’t contract the disease. They were spice traders and had knowledge of spices and oils derived from them that were powerful protectants. Gary Young, the founder of Young Living and creator of this legendary blend, went searching through the history books for any records, found court records of their trials and the rest is history. The blend was born. Love a good story!
Dr Bronner’s Castille Soap
** While most of the Dr Bronner’s soap range is currently out of stock at the time of hitting publish, Nourished Life is regularly restocking their supplies so sign up for stock updates to get one of their next batches and you can still get my favourite bar soap – their peppermint, right now. Bar soap, water, 20 seconds and a good rubba dub dub of the hands = the best protection we have.
Black Chicken Hand Sanitiser
The Black Chicken Hand Sanitiser is made with 80% Ethanol Alcohol (as recommended by the World Health Organisation) which kills 99.9% of bacteria and helps protect you when you can’t wash your hands with soap and water. It contains coconut oil and natural oils that soothe and condition the skin when using multiple times a day.
BIOME has this wonderful Aussie 70% ethanol sanitiser from Earth’s Purities here
And for a 2 in 1, you’ve got Weleda’s natural citrus deodorant that has a high alcohol content of 65% AND is a do at the same time. Why not?
And for disinfecting your phone – which as it turns out should happen often, CHOICE magazine has done the research. Here’s how you do it!
Best way forward with your groceries?
- Can you store pantry goods in the garage and only bring in the produce, for a couple of days? That will mean not having to wipe every packaged food down. If not, wipe down your bench with a good disinfectant, wash all fruit and veg in water in the sink, well. I’m a massive fan of the Young Living fruit and veg wash but it’s out of stock as I hit publish on this. It’s a miracle worker – imagine if you will, perfectly crisp Kale 6 days later?
- then wipe down all plastic and cardboard packed items, leave any carrier bags or boxes outside your home before using inside, for the 24 hours that the virus can live on those surfaces.
- DON’T touch your face while you unpack everything and pop all bags/boxes out by the back door for a couple of days before you use them/repurpose them.
- Wash hands well afterwards with soap and water.
- Get changed if you came into contact with unwashed/wiped down boxes, bags and food packages. Geez Louise, hey? But these are the things to think of with this highly contagious beast. Think of your favourite humans and smile: It’sd a privilege we get to do this for us and them to stay well.
Parcel delivery protocol
Given we are increasing the number of essential items we buy online to avoid going to the shops, this doesn’t mean we can then ‘not worry’ about those parcels, given Covid19 appears to be able to live on cardboard for up to a day and plastic/stainless up to 2-3 days. To that end, some great tips here by one of our Low Tox Method cohort, Laudy Cincotta, director of the Clean Fresh Group (for all your split system A/C cleaning needs in VIC as well as building biology, she and her team are the best!)
So hopefully that all helps you a bit with some useful information in light of the strange times we’re in. We have other useful resources to help you during this time, including our Covid19 toolkit that has all the things we’ve created for you regarding food, as well as our List of things you can do online to light up your face with a smile right now. Enjoy and anything else you need support with right now, let me know in the comments. You might want to come and join us in the Low Tox Club, where I’ve put together a super supportive collection of tools for
Stay well. Stay positive. It’s not going to be forever.
Low Tox. Happy Bodies. Happy Planet.
Disclaimer: Low Tox Life is not responsible for anyone contracting the coronavirus if they’ve followed everything in this article. It’s a highly contagious virus that can be caught any number of ways. This information is designed to support you to best prevent the spread of the virus through our hands, and what materials we receive into our homes. Stay well everyone and call your doctor if you’re unsure about symptoms you’re having.