Dawn to Dust: Cleaning & Disinfecting High-Touch Surfaces
 to Stay Safe, Maintain Finishes, and Keep Warranties Valid

Over the past six months, cleaning and disinfecting our homes has become of the utmost importance. Kelly Burnette, Harrell Remodeling Assistant Project Manager, did a deep dive into what it takes to both clean and disinfect surfaces properly.

“We all remember those aisles of empty shelves where the cleaning products should’ve been,” Kelly reflects. “People were, and many still are, disinfecting countertops, door hardware, and other frequently-touched surfaces in their homes. There is a correct way to clean plus correct ways to sanitize while also maintaining finishes and keeping warranties valid.”

The first and most crucial step is to clean before you disinfect. Get rid of dust, grease, and other build-up first. “Cleaning and sanitizing is not always a one-step process,” Kelly explains. “If a surface is visibly dirty, it is necessary to remove that dirt before disinfecting.”

Most appliances and materials, including countertops, have products the manufacturer recommends for cleaning along with others they warn against. Some cleaning products are too harsh or abrasive and can permanently damage the surface. Using those unapproved types of products will void any warranty provided by the manufacturer.

Once the high-touch surfaces in your home have been cleaned and are free of built-up dirt and grime following the specific manufacturers recommendations, you are ready for the more frequent, daily sanitizing procedures.

After considerable research, Kelly discovered a simple process and a highly effective solution that can be safely used to disinfect cleaned countertops, flooring, appliances, and other high-touch surfaces, while staying within the manufacturer’s guidelines for many different household surfaces.

Rather than purchasing several different disinfecting products, a mixture of 4 drops of Dawn dish soap, four Tablespoons of isopropyl alcohol, and one quart of water is an ideal solution for frequently sterilizing most surfaces.

“People have a misconception about bleach and how to use it,” Kelly shares. “Bleach is very caustic and shouldn’t be used on many materials in a home. This diluted solution of dish soap and alcohol is powerful without being overly harsh. It is also incredibly cost-effective.”

Thanks to its ideal pH, Dawn excels at removing dirt, grease, and grime without etching, discoloring, or otherwise damaging surfaces. Isopropyl alcohol is the sanitizing agent. When appropriately applied, this mixture provides 24-hours of disinfectant protection. The Dawn solution does have a shelf life, so only mix what you will use within five to seven days.

Disinfecting Process

  1. Use clean paper towels or non-abrasive microfiber cloths
  2. Spray the mixture onto the surface for the initial cleaning
  3. Wipe off thoroughly, ensuring no dirt or other residue remains
  4. Thoroughly saturate the surface with the solution and let sit for one minute
  5. Using fresh cloths or paper towels, wipe down the area completely

When cleaning light switches, the one-minute wet saturation isn’t feasible. Instead, apply the solution to the cloth instead of spraying it directly onto the surface and wipe down a few times a day. This process should also be used for door and cabinet hardware, cell phones, tablets, television remotes, and even computer keyboards and your computer mouse.

As you go through your home disinfecting, change the paper towels or cloths frequently. Continuing to use the same towel will only move dirt and germs from one location to another. Friction can also wear away an object’s finish, so it is vital to use a soft, non-abrasive cloth and avoid the same motion every time.

Kelly does advise caution when cleaning “living finishes.” Living finishes such as copper, bronze, brass, bamboo, and teak are subject to outside elements like weather, water, and air. The patina can be worn away or discolored by certain cleaning solutions; thus, it is best to use products expressly recommended by the manufacturer.

Woman Founded and 100% Employee-Owned, Harrell Remodeling, Inc. has created distinctive homes in Silicon Valley and the mid-Peninsula since 1985. The Harrell Remodeling Design + Build Team is here to help you reimagine your home inside and out. To discover the lifestyle possibilities of your home, we invite you to reach out to one of our talented designers for a complimentary consultation or join us for one of our virtual workshops.