The Differences Between Cleaning And Disinfecting Products

March 11, 2020

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The coronavirus has a lot of people re-thinking the cleaners they use. The CDC recommends that you clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily, which includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks. However not all disinfectants are effective against every type of bacteria or bug. The truth is some cleaners may be harmful to both our health and the environment. Bleach is a relatively cheap and highly effective disinfectant. It kills some of the most dangerous bacteria as well as many viruses, including the flu and the common cold. It should also work on the novel coronavirus, according to the CDC, which notes that "unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted." The CDC advises using a bleach solution with 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) bleach per gallon of water, or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water. Bleach is a potential hazard to human health, capable of not only irritating sensitive tissue in the eyes, skin, mouth and throat, but also contributing to long-term respiratory problems like asthma. Bleach can also be hazardous to pets, wildlife and ecological health, so follow the manufacturer's instructions for application and ventilation and remember that bleach should only be used to clean surfaces and not on your skin. Avoid mixing bleach and ammonia or ammonia-based cleaners as it creates chlorine gas, which can be fatal. Although ammonia may be a more environmentally friendly cleaning solution than many other products, it is not registered as a disinfectant by the EPA. Vinegar can be used as a safer bleach alternative for some applications, such as cleaning, and research has shown it can be affective against some bacteria and viruses, including the flu, but it is not a registered disinfectant. Hydrogen peroxide has antimicrobial properties and can be an effective household cleaner. It is also highly biodegradable. However, highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide is extremely dangerous and can be corrosive to the eyes, skin, and respiratory system as well as causing burns to the skin and tissue damage to the eyes. It should only be used as a disinfectant at concentrations lower than 3%.  Although baking soda is often used a household cleaner, it is ineffective against most bacteria. Ethyl alcohol is effective against a wide range of bacteria and also some viruses including influenza and coronaviruses. For disinfecting surfaces, the CDC advises using an alcohol solution with at least 70% alcohol. For hand sanitizers, it suggests using one with at least 60% alcohol, although it notes washing your hands with soap and water is preferable and cheaper.

SOURCE: Mother Nature Network

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