“High-touch surfaces” refers to a concept we all are quite familiar with, but probably didn’t have a name for it until February 2020 (thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic). According to the CDC, these are areas that are handled frequently throughout the day by numerous people. With the holidays coming up, and gatherings with more than a handful of people becoming safer because of widespread SARS-CoV-2 vaccine use, we must be mindful of keeping these surfaces clean and disinfected before, during, and after our get-togethers. Even though the COVID-19 sickness has been the most discussed health concern for almost 2 years, influenza, viruses that cause gastroenteritis, germs, and bacteria can also linger, and make you, your family, and your guests sick.
It’s probably no surprise to anyone that door handles should be sanitized, but with increased awareness of them being “high-touch” and potential sickness-spreaders, people have adopted other ways to manually open doors, including not touching the handle at all. For this reason, we recommend cleaning and disinfecting around the handle, lengthwise above and below, and the vertical surface of the door that is within arm’s reach both up and down. If there is glass in the door, you might see fingerprints that prompt you to clean it, but germs and bacteria don’t leave such marks, so you might want to add it to your sanitizing list. Sometimes people place their hands on the door jamb when they walk through a door, so don’t forget this area too.
When it comes to windows, the lift, latches, or “lip” to push open are akin to a door handle, and sanitizing these are a must. The locks (sash or otherwise) could also use some attention also. The stools (many believe them to be called “sills”, which are actually outside the house) and glass in the window are very important to clean and disinfect. Probably without even realizing it, many of us touch these two areas when opening a window. Finally, the casing and apron can’t be forgotten about, as they are high-touch. There are many different types of windows, and even though they all operate using the same basic idea, the specific parts of each, as well as the surrounding areas, will differ from home to home. Some good advice is to open the window yourself and ask your family (including children) to do the same, and watch where your and their hands and fingers make contact. Consider what you see when making a list of window-related high-touch areas, so you know what to clean and disinfect accordingly.
With a bit of extra attention and vigilance, you can help keep your family, friends, and guests to your home “cootie”-free this holiday season. At the very least, when you make sure windows and doors are added to the multitude of high-touch surfaces around your house that need your cleaning cloths and sanitizing skills, you’ll have peace of mind knowing that you did your part to stop the spread of germs and bacteria.