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Keeping your family safe and healthy is incredibly important. However, with so many products available to you and all of them claiming to be the best, it can be challenging to figure out precisely what your best option is. One of those fundamental distinctions to make is whether you should disinfect your home or clean it. So, what is the difference between the two? Which one is better for your home and family?
What is Disinfecting?
Disinfecting refers superficially to the use of disinfectants when trying to eliminate germs. Disinfectants are different chemicals that can be used to kill off different germs and viruses that can potentially harm your home and family. Bleach is probably the best-known disinfectant and is one that is found in most homes. Like any other disinfectant, Bleach is something that you have to be careful with when you use, as these chemicals are potentially harmful if misused. These safety precautions generally include keeping disinfectants out of the reach of children and avoiding direct contact with your skin when you use them.
Most disinfectants take time to be effective. This means that you will typically leave them on the surface for a set period of time once they’re applied. Then, depending on the disinfectant, you may or may not have to wipe down the area that you used the disinfectant on. It’s important to remember that disinfectant is designed to kill bacteria, not necessarily clean a surface.
Among the most important surfaces in your home to disinfect are countertops, doorknobs, faucets, bathtubs, toilets, and any other commonly touched surface.
What is Cleaning?
Most people use cleaning as a broad term that encompasses things like disinfecting your home. This isn’t exactly correct, however. Cleaning is when you are physically moving dirt, dust, and other particles from your home. One common, fundamental way to clean is by sweeping and vacuuming your home. This collects dander, dirt, and duster, taking it off of surfaces, but does not, however, truly disinfect your home. There is a chance that some of those germs are removed in the cleaning process.
Just like disinfectants, there are cleaning products and chemicals that can be used. The key difference in these chemicals is that they’re not designed to kill germs or bacteria. Instead, they’re designed to make those things easier to remove. There are still potential hazards to using cleaners, as is the case with any other chemical, which means they need to be used carefully and only as directed. Using cleaning products is still essential for many surfaces. For instance, fabric cleaners are very important to get stains and other things like that out of couches and carpet.
You’d commonly use cleaner on just about everything that you use disinfectant on, plus surfaces like floors and different fabrics.
Is Disinfecting or Cleaning More Effective?
The truth behind disinfecting and cleaning is that they’re best if used together in unison. This means that you would clean the surfaces in your home to remove dirt and as many germs as possible before then using the disinfectant. That disinfectant would then kill any remaining germs on the surfaces throughout your home, not allowing them to spread or reproduce, though it won’t actually do any further cleaning.
Which one is better overall is truly dependent on your goal. If you need to get a coffee stain out of a counter, then disinfectant isn’t going to help you. On the other hand, if your goal is to kill germs and keep your family healthy, cleaning products will not help.
Making Vehicles Cleaner and Safer
Sanitizing vehicles more effectively can make both drivers and passengers safer. It’s true that many viruses won’t live on exterior surfaces for very long. However, people never know when someone is going to make contact with a particular surface. If one person recently touched a surface, and then another person comes in contact with it, there could be some risks involved. People who rub their eyes frequently or who eat without washing their hands first will be especially likely to have these sorts of issues.
Fortunately, drivers can make the interiors of their vehicles much cleaner. They won’t necessarily need to change anything dramatic about their vehicles. Most people want to have clean cars. Sanitizing a vehicle will certainly make it much cleaner visually. People will often have to clean out their vehicles as part of this overall sanitation procedure.
People have a lot of discarded items in their cars. Most people will spend a relatively large amount of time in their vehicles. They might spend several hours there per day, depending on the length of their average commute and the amount of time that they spend on running errands. These people will tend to have many discarded items there, and it’s essential to make sure that those are out of the car before any actual sanitation process can begin.
A lot of the old junk in cars is dirty, even if it does not look like it. It’s been there for a while, and some bacteria will thrive under these conditions. The debris can be magnets for the bacteria that will enter the car and get there in other ways. Even a little junk in a car can make it look that much messier, and people will notice the difference the second everything is removed.
Messier cars are also a lot harder to clean in other ways, making it particularly important for people to clear out their vehicles before they decide to sanitize them more thoroughly. Once they have completed this step, they can start vacuuming the car and making progress there.
A car will automatically look less dirty the second that it’s vacuumed. However, vacuuming is not just about improving the appearance of a car and making it look cleaner. The vehicle will actually be more sanitary.
People won’t be able to sanitize their cars very effectively if there is a lot of debris all over those cars. The trash itself can be full of viruses and bacteria. It’s easy to spread debris throughout a vehicle, even though many people will be sitting still throughout most of the journey. Car owners who vacuum their cars thoroughly enough will already make those cars much more sanitary than they would be otherwise.
The vacuuming process might actually kill some viruses and bacteria because of the high levels of heat involved. Many potentially infectious debris will be removed, which should make the rest of the sanitation process even easier.
Sanitizing High-Contact Areas
The high-contact areas of a car will get touched frequently. The car door handles themselves will fall into that category. However, people should consider how other individuals will interact
with a car interior. People will tend to touch the car radio area, the armrests, and many other parts of a car’s interior as they use the vehicle. It’s crucial to use disinfecting wipes and make sure that all of these important surfaces are cleaned.
Plenty of disinfecting wipes are not toxic. They’re made from cleaning materials that are not going to cause issues in their own right. These cleaning materials will also be fairly easy to use. Drivers just need to remove the wipes and move them across all the surfaces that must be cleaned. They won’t necessarily need to clean every inch of the car. Cleaning the high-contact areas should suffice.
Ingredients to Look for When Shopping for Disinfectant Solutions
Most household cleaners, ranging from dish soap to all-purpose cleaners, have surfactants, which bond to germs, dirt, and oil particles, thus suspending them in water to be easily washed away. While washing your hands for at least 20 seconds removes 97% of germs, household cleaners are the disinfectant option to clean surfaces. This is because soap must be worked and rubbed into a lather to be effective, whereas disinfectants kill on contact.
When shopping for disinfectant solutions, it is essential to know what ingredients to look for to ensure the product you purchase will effectively disinfect. Keep reading to learn more about these ingredients!
Is My Cleaning Product Effective?
Different disinfectant brands use different terminology on their labeling, with the most common being disinfecting, sanitizing, and antibacterial. Have you ever considered what these mean and if they are effective disinfectants? Let’s find out.
Statistics show that sanitizing eliminates 99.9-percent of germs while disinfecting removes over 9.999% when applied according to the instructions. Antibacterial products contain ingredients that help slow the growth of or kill bacteria, but that does not mean it is as effective as sanitizing or disinfecting. Antibacterial products are not any better than using regular soap. That means to kill a powerful parasite like COVID-19, you must utilize a proper disinfectant, not an antibacterial or sanitizing product.
What Do I Look for on Disinfectant Solution Packaging?
Disinfectant solutions are powerful germ-killing machines but are not as effective on dirty surfaces because oil and dirt consume the disinfectant particles to protect germs. For this reason, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends first cleaning the surface with water and soap then use a disinfectant.
When purchasing a disinfectant, always look for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration number on the packaging. These are typically displayed on the front or back label panel. The EPA allocates these numbers to products that have been proven, through testing, to kill germs effectively. For a manufacturer to obtain a registration number, they must submit a series of lab test descriptions and results of the formula and production process to be reviewed and approved by the EPA.
What Disinfectant Ingredients Should I Look For?
To prevent the coronavirus spread, the EPA creates a list of cleaning product ingredients that work against COVID-19 and other germs. The most common active ingredients in these disinfectants include:
Ethanol or Isopropanol (Alcohol)
Alcohol is an effective and common disinfectant when used in high concentration. To be effective, cleaning products must contain at least 70-percent alcohol, and hand sanitizers should be comprised of 60-percent. Remember, these products become less effective over time because of evaporation.
Although not as strong as bleach, Hydrogen Peroxide contains disinfectant properties that kill bacteria and viruses. In a 2018 study from Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control, hydrogen peroxide was more a more effective bacteria killer than quaternary ammonium compounds. Most commercial disinfectants have a three-percent hydrogen peroxide concentration.
Quaternary Ammonium Compounds
Quaternary ammonium compounds are widely used as disinfectants and are found in most household cleaners, including sprays and wipes. Research proves that quaternary ammonium compounds effectively kill most fungi, viruses, and bacteria.
Sodium Hypochlorite (Bleach)
Sodium hypochlorite is the active ingredient in bleach, which kills fungi, bacteria, and viruses. Bleach can regularly be used on countertops and doorknobs but must air dry for a minimum of 10-minutes before wiping. Since bleach can irritate sensitive skin, it is essential to wear gloves during use.
Although cleaning surfaces and your hands with soap is a significant step in the right direction by removing 97-percent of germs, it doesn’t take you past the finish line. There are numerous disinfectant products on the market, so it is important to consider these ingredients when looking. And remember, always clean high-traffic surfaces regularly and wash your hands thoroughly!
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