Sanitizing and disinfecting both help remove or destroy germs that can make you sick.
Sanitizing is a chemical process that lessens and even kills germs on surfaces to make them safe for contact. Usually you sanitize in kitchens and other areas that come into contact with food. For example, you sanitize dishes and utensils after using them. You also sanitize toys that children put in their mouths.
Disinfecting requires a stronger solution to destroy germs rather than simply reduce them. You might disinfect areas where you change a baby’s diaper. Hospitals disinfect areas that have come into contact with blood or other body fluids.
To sanitize or disinfect in your home, you generally start with bleach and cool water in a bucket (hot water decreases effectiveness). Wear rubber gloves to protect your hands. Make sure that you’re using a bleach concentration appropriate for household rather than industrial use. Concentrations of 5.25 percent or 6 percent hypochlorite are safe for use in the house.
If you’re sanitizing, use 1 tablespoon of bleach to 1 gallon of water (or 1 teaspoon to 1 quart). Transfer the solution to a spray bottle and spray the item you want to sanitize (or dip from the bucket and wipe the item with paper towels). Leave the solution on the area for at least one minute before rinsing. This solution can be used on toys, eating utensils and objects that will come into contact with mouths.
If you’re disinfecting, mix 1/4 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water. Since this concentration is stronger, use it only to disinfect areas that will not have contact with food or mouths – like changing tables, potty chairs, hospital areas and floors. You also should expose the area to bleach solution for a longer period of time. As we mentioned earlier, the official test for disinfecting mandates that all germs must be killed in 10 minutes, but usually an exposure of two to three minutes is enough.
Disposable disinfectant wipes may seem like a convenient way to keep your house clean and family healthy, but how effective are they?
“We think of them as easy to use, but the problem is that they don’t work unless you use them properly,” Dr. Neha Pathak, a board-certified internal medicine doctor.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “disinfection usually requires the product to remain on the surface for a certain period of time (e.g., letting it stand for 3 to 5 minutes).”
In other words, it may be necessary to use more than one wipe to keep the surface wet for the length of time stated on the product’s instructions label. For instance, both labels for Clorox and Lysol Disinfecting Wipes state that the surface should remain wet for four minutes after application to fully disinfect the area.
“If you chose wipes, make sure you only use them on one surface and then dispose of them,” Pathak said. “Don’t keep reusing a single wipe because you are likely just to move germs from one surface to another.”
To properly use a disinfectant wipes always follow the label and never mix with other products. Avoid touching the wet surface after wiping. Let the surface air dry. Do not let children use wipes and keep them in their original container.