Coronavirus: How to grocery shop safely, online and in-person

A woman in North Carolina was infected with coronavirus, despite self-isolating for three weeks before she became sick. What happened? She says a woman who also tested positive dropped off groceries on her doorstep.

If you didn’t believe me before about sanitizing your deliveries — food or otherwise — maybe you will now. Tap or click here for the method I use to sanitize Amazon boxes and online deliveries. Some might call it overkill. I call it smart.

Online grocery orders are a smart solution if you’re immune-compromised, older or just want to avoid going to the store, but you have to take a few important precautions. Here’s a primer on how to order groceries online and the steps you need to take to keep coronavirus germs out of your home.

What are your options?

Instacart

Instacart lets you shop at a host of stores, including Aldi, Sprouts, Costco, Sam’s Club, Albertsons, Superior Grocers, Vons, SaveMart, Foods Co. and Food Maxx. Visit the Instacart website or download the free app for Apple or Android.

Keep in mind each store sets its own prices, and you’ll likely end up paying at least a little more through Instacart than you would be going to the store yourself.

Your first delivery is free. After that, you’ll pay $3.99 to $7.99 for individual deliveries, or you can subscribe for $9.99 per month or $99 per year. With or without a subscription, orders must meet a $10 minimum.

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Walmart Grocery

With Walmart Grocery, order items online from the store nearest you. Try it free with a 15-day trial. After that, a subscription costs $12.95 per month or $98 annually. You can also pay per delivery, at around $9.95 a pop.

Delivery options typically include same-day and next day, though the surge in online orders right now could delay that. Plan accordingly.

Order on your computer at grocery.walmart.com or download the Android app from Google Play or the Apple app from the App Store. Once you create an account, you can see open delivery slots in your area.

Amazon Fresh

If you've never placed a grocery order through Amazon Fresh or Whole Foods, bad news: New delivery and pickup customers are being put on a waitlist. The good news is Amazon Prime and Amazon Prime Student members get free deliveries.

To order or get on the waiting list, visit Amazon Fresh homepage on Amazon.com or get the free Amazon app for Android or Apple.

How to safely retrieve your order

OK, you choose a service and put in your first order. Now what? No matter where or how you order, you need to handle all deliveries with care.

The National Institutes of Health says COVID-19 is capable of clinging to surfaces for a longer period of time than originally thought. That includes fabric. Tap or click here to learn how to disinfect your clothing and cloth masks.

Here are the basics to bringing your groceries inside:

  • Request no-contact delivery. You can tip the delivery person through the website or app when you make your order.
  • Wear gloves and have a disinfectant at the ready. Disinfecting wipes are great if you have them, but paper towels moistened with 70% isopropyl alcohol work, too. Tap or click here to see what sanitizing products kill the coronavirus.
  • When your order arrives, take out each item and wipe it down. I suggest grabbing a basket or box and putting your disinfected items inside.
  • Throw out your gloves, used disinfectant wipes or paper towels, and any packaging.
  • Bring your freshly-cleaned items inside. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.
  • Wash produce in warm, soapy water.

What about shopping in person?

If you decide to venture out to the grocery store, there are a few tips to minimize your chances of bringing germs back into your home.

  • Put on a mask and gloves, if you have them. Don’t have a mask? Making your own isn’t hard, and you can do it with things you already have at home — no sewing required. Tap or click here for a simple, step-by-step DIY.
  • Take advantage of the disinfecting wipes many stores offer at their entrances. Use the wipes to clean the handle on the cart or basket you’re going to use. Not all stores have wipes, so bring a couple with you if you have them at home.
  • Handle products with care. Instead of grabbing produce directly, pick it up with the help of a plastic produce bag. Wash all your produce in warm, soapy water once you get home.
  • Check with your grocery store for special hours. Many grocers across the U.S. have implemented special hours for those in high-risk categories like the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions.
  • Some grocery stores are running out of bags. It’s a good idea to bring your own totes from home to pack your groceries in. Use fabric totes you can throw into the washing machine. Wash them on the hottest cycle you have on your machine and dry them thoroughly.

Essentials like groceries are just that  — essential. We can’t go without food to eat, but we can do our best to make sure we’re getting it in the safest way possible. Stay healthy.

BONUS TIP FOR EXTRA KNOW-HOW: Complete guide to sanitizing your tech: Phones, laptops, computers, tablets

Knowing how to clean our tech is one of the many ways we can control the spread of germs in our homes. And right now, knowing how to sanitize things should be a top priority.

There’s a right and wrong way to clean all your gadgets. Each device has its own maintenance instructions. But don’t worry, keeping germs at bay is easy once you know what to do.

Tap or click here for proper maintenance steps for all your devices.

What digital lifestyle questions do you have? Call Kim’s national radio show and tap or click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to or watch the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet, television or computer. Or tap or click here for Kim’s free podcasts.

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Learn about all the latest technology on The Kim Komando Show, the nation's largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today's digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.