Use safer alternatives to antibacterial products
January 16, 2013
Rather than relying on toxic chemicals like triclosan to kill bacteria, protect your family from infections with these easy steps:
1. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently. It’s not the type of soap that prevents the spread of bacteria and viruses, it’s how you wash your hands and how often. Wash hands both before and after preparing food; before eating or handling contact lenses; after changing a diaper (wash the child’s hands, too), petting animals, sneezing, coughing, or using the toilet; and, whenever hands came in contact with bodily fluids.
- Wet your hands, using comfortably warm water.
- Add soap (preferably plant-based) and lather up. If you use bar soap, rinse it after using and let dry.
- Rub hands together vigorously for 20 seconds. Don’t forget the spaces between your fingers, your wrists, and under your nails.
- Rinse thoroughly.
- Dry hands well and launder hand towels often in hot water.
2. Clean surfaces with hot, soapy water (with lots of suds). Scrub surfaces well to loosen microorganisms, which can form a slimy layer resistant to detergent alone.
3. Wash sponges frequently. Sponges are one of the top germ harbors in your home. Wash them regularly in soapy water and then pop them in the microwave for 2 minutes to thoroughly kill bacteria.
4. Disinfect selectively.
Do Disinfect: objects that come into contact with raw meat, fish, or eggs, such as cutting boards, utensils and counters:
- Use a dishwasher and be sure it reaches 171 degrees F – and choose an environmentally friendly detergent.
- Spray cutting boards and counters with white vinegar and then with 3% hydrogen peroxide (available in drug stores). Keep the liquids handy in separate spray bottles. It doesn’t matter which one your use first, but both are much more effective than either one alone. See The Partnership for Food Safety Education for more tips on safe food handling practices.
Do Disinfect: Kitchen hard surfaces:
- Kill germs with an all-purpose vinegar solution: nine parts water, one part white vinegar.
- Hydrogen peroxide will also reduce microorganisms on surfaces.
In addition, keep surfaces dry and the humidity in your home low. Bacteria and fungi love moist, warm places.