Updated: Sep 13, 2021
By Kirsten Garvin - Team Member and Staff Writer for The Cardiac Bear
As you do your weekly shopping trip you may have noticed that the cleaning aisles have been barebones at many shopping centers over the last seven months.
Store employees try their hardest to keep it stocked but disinfecting wipes, multipurpose cleaners, hand sanitizers, and bleach have been flying off the shelves. While all of us are being a little more conscientious about cleaning these days, let’s take a look at some common mistakes some of us may not even realize we're making!
There's a Difference Between Disinfecting and Sanitizing
Cleaning: removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects. Cleaning works by using soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection. (Source)
Disinfecting: kills germs on surfaces or objects. Disinfecting works by using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces or objects. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection. (Source)
Sanitizing:lowers the number of germs on surfaces or objects to a safe level. This process works by either cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or objects to lower the risk of spreading infection. (Source)
Antiseptic: Antiseptics are for use on the skin outside the body and contain microorganisms that work to deter the development of bacteria, fungi and viruses. (Source)
Antibacterial: Antibacterials are now most commonly described as agents used to disinfect surfaces [from bacteria] and eliminate potentially harmful bacteria. Antibacterials are also for use on skin on the outside of the body. They are active against bacteria, not viruses. (Source)
Antimicrobial: Antimicrobial agents kill or slow the spread of microorganisms. Microorganisms include bacteria, viruses, protozoans, and fungi such as mold and mildew. (Source)
Read the directions every single time
(even if you think you already know what it's going to say, you might be surprised!)
It will specify whether it’s made to specifically target bacteria or whether it can kill viruses, mold, and bacteria. For some tasks it may not matter which you have, but in some instances you may be specifically wanting a cleaner that will target a broader range of microorganisms.
Did you realize that depending on which cleaner you use it may need to stay wet for up to several minutes to properly disinfect?
Be cautious about skin coming in contact with the cleaners; they can be harsh on skin and potentially cause a reaction. Don’t use antibacterial or disinfecting wipes on your hands unless the directions indicate that they are skin-safe. Nobody wants a chemical burn!
Never ever ever flush cleaning wipes down the toilet!
In fact, never flush anything down the toilet except toilet paper (even so-called “flushable” wipes!) lest you find yourself with a very expensive plumbing bill.
Be wary about products that claim to disinfect with only a special cloth and water alone.
While sanitizing the surface can happen by the act of a cloth cleaning it by way of physically removing germs from the surface onto the cloth, it does not kill the germs. The Center for Disease Control suggests cleaning with soap and water. Always take care to frequently launder used cleaning cloths!
Check that your hand sanitizer has at least 60% alcohol
The Center for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration advise that hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol be used if you’re out and about and aren’t able to access soap and water to wash your hands. A keychain hand sanitizer can be a convenient solution to keep on your purse, belt loop, or keys when you're out and about!
The Environmental Protection Agency's infographic is available if you need a handy visual reminder for staff or coworkers on using disinfectants correctly.
During the course of our research for this post we were surprised about how much we learned! All of the terms we’ve been hearing can sound so similar and be so confusing sometimes. Did you learn anything surprising? Leave a comment below and let us know!
We here at The Cardiac Bear Team are wishing all of you a healthy and happy week!