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Should you disinfect groceries? Experts weigh in

April 13th, 2020

Living through a pandemic is a stressful time for everyone. Even if you’re staying inside most of the time and practicing social distancing, you’ll likely have to go to the grocery store at some point. There’s just one problem… every time you do, you put yourself at risk of contracting the coronavirus. It’s not just about the air you breathe but also getting exposed to the virus from touching the surfaces of any items you bring home.

The good news…experts have provided helpful tips on how to stay safe when you have to go to the grocery store for supplies. By following their advice, you can protect yourself and help flatten the curve. This good advice will also alleviate some of our stress.

Do you even have to go?

The most important thing you have to ask yourself is whether a trip to the grocery store is necessary. Unless you’re in dire need of supplies, stay at home. The less you expose yourself to other people the better. Jaimie Meyer, MD, from Yale Medicine said, “Consider whether online ordering and delivery or curbside pickup might be an option.”

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Don’t go anywhere if you’re sick

It’s essential to remember that if you’re feeling sick at all, don’t go anywhere. Even if it just feels like a tickle in the back of your throat, you shouldn’t leave your house. Instead, ask friends for help or use a delivery service to drop off any necessities you need.

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Shop during off-hours

If there’s no way to avoid going to the store, try to go during off-hours. That’s when there are fewer people, which means a lower risk. Before leaving your house, make a list of everything you need to pick up. That’ll make it easier for you to in and get out of the store as quickly as possible.

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Don’t stress

Right now, going to the grocery store feels a little overwhelming, even frightening. Try not to stress about it too much. Do what you can to protect yourself, but don’t panic. Just take care of yourself the best you can.

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Instagram/tori_frost Source: Instagram/tori_frost

Bring a bleach wipe

You want to be prepared to sanitize as much as possible when you go to the store. A great way to do that is by taking a bleach wipe with you. With that, you can wipe down the cart, especially the handles that other people touch. If you have hand sanitizer on hand, you want to bring that along too.

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Use self-checkout

Now is a great time to use the self-checkout line if your grocery store offers it. This will help you maintain a distance from the people who work there. It’s also a good idea to cover your hands with a sleeve or a glove while you use the machines.

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Wikipedia Source: Wikipedia

Wash your hands

This can’t be stressed enough. Yes, it’s a good idea to use hand sanitizer as soon as you leave the store. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t wash your hands when you get home. Make sure you scrub them well for at least 20 seconds using soap and hot water. Sing along to the ‘Happy Birthday’ song if you don’t feel like counting. It takes around 20 seconds to get through the song.

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Pexels/National Cancer Institute Source: Pexels/National Cancer Institute

Wipe down non-perishable groceries

Technically, the virus can live on cardboard and plastic packages for a short amount of time. But experts agree this isn’t a high risk of transmission — you’re more likely to contract the coronavirus from other people. To be careful, though, Lauren Bryan, RN, who’s an infection preventionist at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, says you can wipe down inedible containers with a disinfecting wipe.

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Don’t use cleaning products on produce

One thing you should keep in mind is that you don’t want to use cleaning products on any type of produce. Dr. Meyer said, “Please don’t scrub your pears with Lysol. If you do, there’s a higher chance of getting sick from ingesting [chemicals] rather than from COVID-19.”

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Disinfect your countertops

After you have everything clean and put away, you’ll want to disinfect your countertops to make sure you kill any lingering viruses. But you should be doing this several times a day anyway. That’ll help eliminate the coronavirus and a variety of other germs.

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Keep these tips in mind to make your trips to the grocery store as safe as possible. To learn more, watch the video below to see how Dr. Sanjay Gupta demonstrates the proper way to wipe down groceries or take-out items.

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Source: Health, USA Today, Flickr/Phillipstewart, Flickr/Walmartcorporate