Since the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping your house clean and disinfected has probably been on most people’s list of essential tasks. Even though it has always been a priority, it has taken on renewed significance, especially if you have children you want to keep safe. Despite old wives’ tales about keeping bugs and germs at bay, modern chemicals used to kill bacteria far outweigh their traditional methods. However, some of these conventional methods are still effective. This article will discuss some of the modern techniques of disinfection and some of the more traditional ways that your grandparents might have used.
What Does Disinfection Mean?
Before getting into the main methods, it is essential to understand what it means to disinfect something. For example, have you ever seen cleaning products that pertain to killing up to 99.9% of bacteria and viruses? Marketers may claim that their product “kills 99.9% of germs”, but in reality, it may not kill the particular pathogen or bacteria you need to kill. Disinfectants must state which microorganisms they are effective against and how much to dilute them and how to use them on their labels by law. Therefore, to protect yourself against a particular pathogen, you should check the label.
What About Waste?
Additionally, many of these conventional cleaners use harsh chemicals that are great at killing specific pathogens but tend to kill almost everything else along with them. This can prove to be terrible for the environment, which is why many eco-conscious manufacturers are beginning to sell eco-friendly disinfectant products that either reduce plastic waste or are made from certain earth-friendly chemicals. These newer products are becoming more popular due to rising awareness of the need to protect the planet. For example, many of the containers needed to contain the strong chemicals are made of non-recyclable materials, which often end up in landfills, only adding to pollution in the long term.
How Are Germs Spread Around Your Home?
It is surprisingly easy for germs to proliferate without you knowing about it. For example, you might think that if you sneeze into your hand and then wash them, that is the end of it. However, unless you follow the correct hand-washing techniques, you will find that germs remain. Once you begin to touch any other surface, these germs will rub off and begin to grow and multiply. Humans are generally capable of fighting off most illnesses with their immune systems. However, it is always best to keep things clean wherever possible.
Top Tips To Disinfect Your Home
Now that you understand what disinfecting means and the importance of protecting the planet in the process, it is time to move onto how you can clean your home and keep it free of harmful bacteria.
Avoid Antibacterial Soap
There are numerous soaps and hand cleaning products on the market that claim to have antibacterial properties. At first glance, this looks great. After all, that is what you are aiming for, to kill the bacteria, right? Although your end game is to destroy the germs that inhibit your hands, antibacterial soaps can do more harm in the long run. Furthermore, the FDA has even banned 19 antibacterial additives that have commonly been used in these products. But why is this? Without getting too much into the science, the antibacterial substance often found in these items is called triclosan. It has been found that this not only negatively impacts the ecosystem around us when it gets washed down the drains, but it can also lead to a lowering of your immune system. Certain bacteria are good for you, and by killing it all off, you run the risk of not allowing your body to come up with the defense required to protect you. Finally, these antibacterial soaps can cause antibiotic-resistant bacteria to develop over time, which is a problem the world cannot afford.
What Can You Use Instead?
All you need to do to keep your hands clean and disinfected is to wash them with regular soap. By its very nature, soap acts to break down the cell walls of most bacteria, killing them in the process. It has no other harmful effects on your body or the environment, is cheaper and more accessible. In the future, when you’re at the supermarket looking for hand soap, you should choose regular soap instead of anything labeled antibacterial.
Look For Certified Sanitizing Products
Not all disinfectants are created equally. Shop around for products that are certified by specific organizations when you are looking for products. These include:
- EcoLogo: This is a Canadian-based certification. Several of these products are available in the U.S., while others are not.
- Green Seal: based in the United States, this program is used by many institution buyers.
- Design for the Environment (DfE): This is a U.S. EPA program. In addition to institutional products, DfE certifies consumer products as well.
There are others, but these are your best bets, as they will provide the right amount of sanitization without compromising your health or the environment. When in doubt, look for:
- Labeling of ingredients
- On the label, there is no signal word like “Danger.”. A sign on the tag informs the reader about the relative level of severity of the hazard and warns them of any possible danger.
- Chemicals that are not aerosolized
- Chemical odor is not overwhelming.
Use The Items In Your Food Cupboard!
Ok, so this isn’t about smearing peanut butter over your countertop. Instead, it is about using things like lemons, vinegar, and baking powder to clean and disinfect. Vinegar, in particular, has been proven to be a potent disinfectant. Known for centuries to kill bacteria, white vinegar diluted in water can disinfect everywhere but the most bacteria-infested areas. It has been documented as killing salmonella and E. coli, making it ideal for use in the kitchen. You can use a 1:1 mixture with water, put it into a spray bottle and use it in places like the kitchen sink or even in the bathroom. It also acts as an odor neutralizer, which is also helpful.
In the modern world, choosing a suitable disinfectant is crucial. However, it is possible to reduce plastic pollution by opting for greener cleaners that come in the form of handy wipes, or you can use what you have around the house! Using things like vinegar and good old-fashioned soap will make your grandparents proud, keep you safe, and save the environment in the process. You can’t get better than that!
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