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How to protect yourself from viruses: what to use (and what to avoid)

The do’s and don’ts of coronavirus protection.


By Cleanipedia Team

Adult hands using hand sanitiser
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Which products should you use and what things should you not do? It’s a confusing time, but our list of do’s and don’ts provides you with the answers to how to protect yourself from the coronavirus.

What to do against coronavirus

  • Do use soap and water to wash hands. When it comes to germ-busting qualities, soap is king; it has the power to remove viral particles that have been transmitted to surfaces. Use plain soap and water to wash your hands properly, and use a soap and water solution to wash down surfaces.

  • Do use hand sanitiser if soap isn’t available. For many of us, hand gels weren’t on our radar before the coronavirus pandemic. Does hand sanitiser kill viruses? Although soap and water is the preferred method, hand sanitiser is the next best thing as an essential part of coronavirus prevention. Its high level of alcohol (be sure to use concentrations of 60 per cent and over) is the effective ingredient in killing viruses and bacteria.

  • Do follow Government guidelines Whilst the temptation may be there to venture out, cut it down to trips that are absolutely necessary. The rules surrounding coronavirus lockdown are changing frequently, so keeping up to date with the government's guidelines is key in helping stop the spread of coronavirus. If you’re someone who is in this high-risk group of people, it is recommended asking neighbours to do your shopping, pick up prescriptions or run any errands for you.

  • Do use a mask if you’re ill or caring for someone who is. A mask can give you protection against someone with (or suspected of having) the coronavirus. The UK governement have made it compulsory for face coverings to be worn on public transport or in places where social distancing isn't possible. Follow the WHO advice on how to use a mask properly.

  • Do keep your distance. Referred to as ‘social distancing’, we are being urged to cut down on interactions as much as possible to slow the spread of the coronavirus. This includes avoiding contact with anyone displaying symptoms of the virus, steering clear of any large gatherings, working from home where possible, and avoiding any non-essential use of public transport.

Adult hands washing with soap and water

What to avoid doing

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  • Don’t shake hands. Germs can be transmitted by touching contaminated surfaces, so it’s best to avoid a handshake or a hug. Instead, wave, nod, or even bow. Everyone’s doing it, so you won’t look out of place.

  • Don’t cough into your hands. This can spread viral droplets and is how the coronavirus is spread. Instead, use a tissue (and immediately bin it) or your arm when you cough or sneeze.

  • Don’t reuse unwashed clothes. As tempting as it might be to throw on those jeans you’ve already worn out and about, chances are they’ve picked up some germs along the way. Whilst it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re harbouring the coronavirus, err on the side of caution and put them in the wash. And if you’ve been in contact with someone you know or think might have the coronavirus, wash everything immediately.

  • Don’t use harsh cleaning products. Disinfectant products are good, but when it comes to disinfecting, bleach is your best bet. Be sure to use on some surfaces as the solution will strip paint, corrode metal and irritate skin and industrial cleaning products can contain harsh chemicals such as pesticides. Instead, use disinfectant sprays, wipes, or soap and water.

  • Don’t leave your home if you have coronavirus symptoms. This is a very important part of trying to contain the virus and stop it from spreading. If you are displaying symptoms you will need to stay at home, self-isolate and follow government guidelines.

As the coronavirus outbreak evolves, new information, statistics, facts and advice are available daily. Our aim is to give you the most valuable guidance and tips on how to protect yourself from the coronavirus and keep you and your family healthy. We would also urge you to try and keep updated and informed as much as possible, so you can assist in vital coronavirus protection for you, your loved ones and your community.


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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publishing. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it’s possible that some guidance may have changed since publication. While Cleanipedia is trying to keep our content as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations by using GOV UK and NHS.

Originally published