Should I Cancel My Cleaning Service During the Coronavirus Outbreak?

January 1, 2020

Let’s get real for a moment. Things are very weird and worrisome in the world right now. With a global coronavirus pandemic and a national emergency underway, government and health officials are advising society to alienate – to stay indoors as much as possible and limit contact with others – to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

But this is very uncharted territory for most people today. While it may seem easy to start limiting your contact with the public (work from home if you can afford it, and go to the grocery store or pharmacy only when absolutely necessary), there are other situations in your daily life that are more ambiguous, such as whether you should continue to use paid services that actually come into your home, such as house cleaning services and babysitters.

So what should you do to protect yourself, your family, and the people you’re employed by in these situations? While it’s important to remember that there are no set rules around this sort of thing, here’s advice from experts in the medical field when it comes to potentially cancelling your cleaning service or suspending your dog walker.

Should I cancel my cleaning service?
Frankly, it’s not a bad idea, Richard Watkins, M.D., an infectious disease physician in Akron, Ohio, and associate professor of internal medicine at Northeast Ohio Medical University, told Health.” I would recommend not letting anyone into your house during this time,” he said.” Some infected people are initially asymptomatic, while others have only mild illness – but in both cases, they are able to spread COVID-19 to others.”

Aline M. Holmes, DNP, RN, a clinical associate professor at Rutgers University School of Nursing, echoes this statement.” It’s a good idea to have no one outside of your immediate family in your house if you don’t have to,” she says. Yes, even if the cleaning service is technically cleaning your place – if either of you have a virus, the cleaner can still expose you (and in turn you can expose them) to it.” If you can postpone a professional cleaning or do it yourself, you should,” says Holmes.

Should I cancel my dog walker?
Here’s the same deal – you should suspend your dog walking service.” People should walk their own dogs,” says Dr. Watkins. If you’re really trying to figure out how to make this work, you’ve probably figured out that you can send your dog outside your house to your dog walker, who later sends your puppy back, all without ever entering your home. But there are still risks there, Dr. Watkins says. The leash and even your dog’s fur can carry the virus, and if your dog walker happens to be infected, it could spread to you and your family.

Is it safe to use a laundromat?
Well, you still need to wash your clothes, especially if you’re working outside and interacting with other people. That’s because the COVID-19 virus can remain viable on a variety of surfaces, including fabric, plastic and metal, for hours to days, the CDC says. According to the World Health Organization, most viruses are inactivated at temperatures between 140 and 149 degrees Fahrenheit, while the CDC says that heat above 167 degrees Fahrenheit kills flu viruses.

Perhaps a bigger safety issue for laundromats is maintaining a “social distance” from other potentially contaminated surfaces, according to The Huffington Post. Wearing gloves without touching your face, then removing them properly and washing your hands afterwards should keep you safe, a public health expert told The Huffington Post. Extra drying time or a hotter drying temperature also makes sense – as long as your items can withstand the heat.

Whether at the laundromat or at home, you need to be especially careful with clothes, towels, linens, and other items if someone in your home is sick. Don’t shake out your dirty clothes, as that could spread a virus. The CDC says if you wear disposable gloves, throw them away afterwards, and reusable gloves should only be used for COVID-29 cleanup, not for other household purposes. Don’t have gloves? Be sure to follow proper hand hygiene recommendations. By the way, the CDC says you can mix the patient’s clothing with other clothing.

Should I stop using a babysitter?

It’s a tricky one, whether you can now work from home or still have to report to your workplace.” It’s a tough decision, especially for those who don’t have the option to work from home, such as health care workers,” says Dr. Watkins.” But if someone is working from home, then it’s prudent not to have a nanny come to work.”

If your nanny happens to live with you, Holmes says, this isn’t really an issue. But if they live elsewhere, it could be an issue, even if they practice social distance well when they’re not with you.” If they’re coming and going, you don’t know who they’ve been in contact with,” says Holmes.” It’s a really good idea to not have a babysitter if you can help it.”

If you absolutely need someone to come to your house, Holmes recommends having them wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds as soon as they come in, and continue to practice good hand hygiene while they’re in your home.” If they have any symptoms, such as coughing or sneezing, don’t let them in the house,” she says.

Of course, if you stop using these services, it means that the people you’ve been employing aren’t getting paid. If you’re still making money and you can afford it, you should find a way to still pay them as much as you can in the meantime, or come up with another plan that works for both parties.

Ultimately, though, Holmes says, “The best idea is to keep people out of your home and minimize contact with outsiders.” Dr Watkins admits that all of this is “difficult”, but adds that “people shouldn’t come and visit”.