COVID-19 Conscious Chinese New Year Cleaning Tips

Both tradition and superstition dictate that ahead of Chinese New Year people should clean their homes to remove traces of any misfortune and bad luck accumulated over the previous year. As we prepare to ring in the Year of the Ox, this is no different, with many families up and down preparing for their 掃年 (deep clean) before beginning celebrations with their loved ones. 

New year celebrations during the pandemic need extra cleaning and disinfection. (Photo/Jason Leung)

However, there is an added element to the cleaning in 2021: being conscious of guarding against COVID-19. Despite cases in Taiwan being at a minimum, with many people traveling across the country at once, the risk is higher than usual and needs to be taken into account. Here are some local cleaning tips you can use when cleaning your house ahead of your Chinese New Year gatherings, that include advice on disinfecting against COVID.

Citronella Oil

Citronella Oil has been used for many years as an insect repellent and is great for lowering your chances of being bitten by a mosquito. It also fights against fungus including those that can contribute to lung and sinus infections. The scent of citronella oil is also said to be a mood lifter and helps fight fatigue; pretty important during big family gatherings when things can get stressful.

Citronella field in Sanyi, Miaoli. (Photo/Mao Shiang Tan Fang)

Taiwan Incense-Cedar

An evergreen tree endemic to Taiwan, Taiwan Incense-Cedar is used to make cedarwood oil which has a variety of uses, including being an antiseptic, an insect repellent, and as spray to help get rid of the smell of garbage. You can even add a few drops to your mop water when cleaning the floor as it helps kill fungus too. Unfortunately, you can’t spray it on your uncle if he complains about the amount of money you gave him in his hongbao (紅包). 

The process of manufacturing essential oils and hydrolat. (Photo/Mao Shiang Tan Fang)

Tree Oils

Tree oils are essential oils that can be used for both cleaning and disinfecting. Natural cleaning products, they are fragrant and include various antimicrobial compounds that make them effective against a variety of pathogens, while also having anti-fungal properties. Add to your alcohol spray to not only boost its effectiveness but to also make it more pleasant smelling. Do not add it to your alcoholic drinks to help you cope with your grandma asking you when you’re getting married.

Adding tree oil to disinfectant spray helps to strengthen the effect. (Photo/Christin Hume)
A local grown tree and citronella oil collection from Taiwan. (Photo/Mao Shiang Tan Fang)


It may sound simple, but washing your hands with soap as soon as you return home is one of the very best ways of safeguarding against COVID-19. Since you’re in Taiwan, do consider using a Taiwanese brand such as Dachuns (大春煉皂) and Mao Shiang Tan Fang (茅鄉碳坊), who make their soaps ethically and with natural ingredients such as wormwood and red quinoa. You can check them out here. Use it to washout your relatives’ mouths each time they ask about how much you’re earning. (Don’t actually do this).

Mao Shiang Tan Fang produces soaps with essential tree oil. (Photo/Mao Shiang Tan Fang)
Wash your hands regularly. (Photo/Clay Banks)

(cover photo/CDC)

On the island where coronavirus is contained…