Preventing the spread of germs in your home or workplace is essential to keeping people safe and healthy, especially during cold and flu season. However, just because things seem clean, it does not mean they are disinfected. To actually eliminate germs and bacteria, you must use the right cleaning products — and use them properly. For example, many disinfectants must sit on a surface for a few minutes before being wiped dry in order for them to work effectively.
First, find a cleaning product designed to kill germs. Read labels and look for the words disinfect, disinfectant, antibacterial or sanitize and labeled as meeting EPA requirements for killing germs.
Not all cleaning products kill all germs and bacteria. However, depending on ingredients, they commonly are effective against:
- Harmful bacteria that cause intestinal illness, such as Salmonella and E. coli
- Staphylococcus which causes skin infections
- Fungus that causes athlete’s foot, and viruses such as Herpes simplex
- Rhinovirus, which causes the common cold; and Rotavirus, which leads to diarrhea in young children
Read labels carefully to determine exactly what bacteria each product claims to eliminate.
Also be cautious of cross-contamination in the kitchen, especially when preparing raw meat and eggs, which potentially host serious bacteria that cause foodborne illness. Fortunately, these simple steps can easily prevent cross-contamination. Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs away from other foods — especially those that remain uncooked — such as fruits. Use a separate cutting board designated for meat only, and wash hands thoroughly after handling any raw foods. Sanitize cutting boards and dishes with hot, soapy water and wipe down countertops with a disinfectant.
Encourage hand washing before meals and when entering the home, and don’t share things such as drinks, eating utensils, towels or cosmetics with others. All of these activities often transfer and spread germs from person to person.
Lastly, target common touch points and shared items for more frequent cleanings: doorknobs, light switches, handrails, faucets, keyboards and cell phones. Wipe these spots down frequently and thoroughly. Follow these tips to fight the spread of germs for a healthier and more sanitary environment.