Find out the answer to this question plus all your other disinfectant inquiries.
Not that long ago, most of us wouldn’t have dreamt of spending hours researching disinfectant spray. Now, it’s replaced Instagram as our insomnia activity of choice. My, how things have changed!
The CDC recommends disinfecting areas and items in your home to prevent you and your housemates from getting sick. But here’s something that might come as a surprise: cleaning and disinfecting are very different. Disinfecting is also different from sanitizing. Oh, and some sprays do all three (clean, disinfect, and sanitize), and others don’t.
Confused yet? Thankfully, you’ve come to the right place. It’s a crazy world out there, and we’re here to help you ward off viruses and stay healthy.
Should I clean, disinfect, or sanitize?
The short answer is: yes. Do all three! But let’s start with the definition of each. Cleaning reduces germs and dirt by washing or wiping it away. Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces and can lower the risk of spreading bad bacteria. In order to disinfect, you have to clean first. We know, it’s kind of a bummer, but it’s important! If you don’t clean first, the dirt, dust, and debris will block the disinfectant spray from doing its job. And no one wants that. And finally, sanitizing removes and lowers germs to a safe level. Think of sanitizing as somewhere between disinfecting and cleaning.
For most people, sanitizing is a great choice. It’s not quite as labor-intensive as disinfecting, but it still reduces germs to a safe level. But when it comes to fighting viruses like the novel-coronavirus, you may opt to disinfect some key areas of your home.
The CDC recommends frequently disinfecting surfaces that are touched a lot. That means things like tables, countertops, desks, doorknobs, light switches, handles, toilets, faucets, phones, keyboards, and remotes. If you have kids, you might also want to sanitize the things that find their way into their mouths like toys (both kid’s and dog’s).
First, you have to clean
One of the best ways to clean is to use soap and water (just like washing your hands). Wipe down surfaces with a soapy washcloth or sponge. We like using Dawn Dishwashing Detergent for this task because of its grease-cutting capabilities and fresh scent. Other things that count as cleaning: dusting, sweeping, and mopping.
Now it’s time to disinfect
Not all cleaning products work as disinfectants. For example, vinegar is a great DIY cleaning product but it doesn’t disinfect. I repeat: vinegar does not disinfect. It’s super important that whatever spray you’re planning to use says “disinfectant” on the label. The EPA closely regulates disinfectant sprays, so check their list of approved disinfectants if you’re concerned.
At Home Made Simple, we love Microban 24 Multi-Purpose Cleaner and Sanitizing Spray because you can use it to clean, disinfect and sanitize. Here’s the important thing: you absolutely, positively MUST follow the directions on the product package. Disinfecting isn’t as simple as spraying something and wiping it down immediately. To disinfect, the surface has to stay wet for a specified amount of time. The directions are different for every product, which is why you have to check the label.
Here are the directions to disinfect with our favorite Microban Sanitizing Spray:
What if I want to sanitize?
Do you! Most products that disinfect also have specific instructions for sanitization. To sanitize with Microban Sanitizing Spray, you follow steps 1-3, but only have to let the spray sit for 10 seconds, not 5 minutes**. This is a great option if you’re a little crunched for time but still want to remove germs to a safe level.
Wow, what an education
Your late-night, anxiety-induced disinfectant spray research has paid off. Now, you’re well on your way to becoming a disinfecting expert. Don’t blame us when you become the know-it-all who over-explains the difference between cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing to everyone you know (or ahem don’t know). Just remember: there’s more to taking care of yourself in these crazy times than becoming the disinfectant master. Make sure you’re fueling your body and mind with goodness and staying connected with those you love.
*When used as directed, effective against bacteria (Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella enterica, Escherichia coli 0157:H7), viruses (Influenza A H1N1, Respiratory Syncytial Virus [RSV], Human Coronavirus, Herpes Simplex type 1, Herpes Simplex type 2 and Rotavirus), and fungi (Trichophyton mentagrophytes, and Aspergillus niger).
** When used as directed, effective against Staphylococcus aureus & Enterobacter aerogenes.