At the moment, those facing the highest risk from COVID-19 are elderly people. If your household is made up of people of different ages (kids, parents, grandparents), and family members have had to go out for work or school, it can be unnerving if someone starts to feel ill.

The Government has advice for households where one person thinks they may be infected and wants to protect vulnerable family members.

While it is basically common sense, it’s good to know that there’s something proactive you can do to lessen the risk of contagion.

Perhaps more importantly, one of the key lessons of COVID-19 is that small changes (washing hands, not shaking hands) can make a big difference and that altering our habits is the best way to prevent contagion.

So, it’s useful to have some official guidance that you can use to influence anyone who thinks that a quick rinse under the tap is good enough to keep things clean.

The Government has some guidelines on kitchen hygiene for these households:

“If you share a kitchen with a vulnerable person, avoid using it while they are present. If they can, they should take their meals back to their room to eat. If you have one, use a dishwasher to clean and dry the family’s used crockery and cutlery. If this is not possible, wash them using your usual washing up liquid and warm water and dry them thoroughly. If the vulnerable person is using their own utensils, remember to use a separate tea towel for drying these.”

There are also guidelines for cleaning in non-healthcare related settings. This is good advice to follow at home. There’s specific information on how to deal with clothes-washing if you think a member of your household may be infected:

“Use the warmest water setting and dry items completely. Dirty laundry that has been in contact with an unwell person can be washed with other people’s items. Do not shake dirty laundry. This minimises the possibility of dispersing the virus through the air. Clean and disinfect anything used for transporting laundry with your usual products.”

In addition, in its stay at home guidance for people who think they may be infected, there is further information on how to deal with laundry:

“If you do not have a washing machine, wait a further 72 hours after your 7-day (for individual isolation) or 14-day isolation period (for households) has ended when you can then take the laundry to a public launderette.”

The Government recommends using a steam cleaner on upholstery and bedding that may have come into contact with an infected person. 

We can recommend the Vax S86-SF-CC Steam Fresh Combi Classic Multifunction Steam Mop. Amazon has a very good deal on this cleaner at the moment. It’s down to £69.99 from £149.99 – that’s £80 off. This Vax machine can transform into a handheld device for counter tops and upholstery and is ready to steam clean in only 40 seconds.

Amazon also has a great deal on the SIMBR multipurpose steam cleaner. It’s down from £230.99 to £109.99 – a saving of £121. It has a 1.5 litre water tank and will heat up to 200℉ in 8-9 minutes. We haven’t tested it but the specs are solid and it’s a deep discount.

Older people are sometimes reluctant to use dishwashers and washing machines, out of concern for the expense. They often choose shorter cycles and lower heat settings to save money on electricity bills. This is not good practice right now. If you have elderly friends or relatives you’re concerned about, here's some information you can pass on that may encourage them to use their appliances.

Modern washing machines can take longer to complete a wash cycle. This doesn’t mean they’re wasting electricity. In order to conserve water, they use less of it and spend more time soaking and agitating the wash to get it clean. This actually makes them much more efficient than older machines.

Your dishwasher is much more efficient at washing dishes than you are! It will get them significantly cleaner and use less water in doing so. If there are concerns about using power to do the washing up, remind them that the same applies to heating the water for washing up by hand.

Now is not a great time to find that your appliance is on the blink. To make sure they’re on top form, take some time to clean and maintain them. Have a look at our guides on how to maintain your washing machine, how to maintain your dishwasher and how to load it properly.

Visit Home Hacks for more top tips and advice on dealing with the new normal.