GERMS...we worry about them all the time! They seem to be lurking everywhere and we can't shake them off! Whether or not we are a clean freak, we need to get rid of these unwelcome visitors! Just a quick paper-towel swipe of the counters or doorknobs to clean and really disinfect will not do the job. The Science Behind It Image Credit: WiredUK You might be the best housekeeper in the world, but that does not stop germs from hanging around. Germs are tiny microorganisms that are invisible to the human eyes, but that does not mean they are not there. They are living everywhere! Worse, they are so small and sneaky that they can snuggle into our bodies without being noticed! Alarm bells? Unlike us, they could be just about everywhere at once!\u00a0 Yes, you have got that right - The most common types of germs are bacteria and virus. The key is to know the difference between cleaning, sanitising and disinfecting germs! So, What Is The Difference Between Cleaning, Sanitising, and Disinfecting? Most people tend to use these terms \u201csanitise\u201d and \u201cdisinfect\u201d interchangeably. But wait...they are NOT the same thing! Nerve-racking, huh? These terms are not just semantics. They are each distinctive method of removing germs, dirt and impurities from surfaces or objects. If you used these terms without knowing their meaning, you are not alone! 1. Cleaning How do we usually clean up our homes? It would be pretty much the same old thing, day in and day out, isn't it? The same cleaning solution, the same routine! We use ALL kinds of cleaning solutions and detergents with water to scrub and remove dirt, dust, grease and impurities from objects and surfaces. Name it, we have it!\u00a0 They are doing a pretty good job - on the surface. But ZERO efficacy to sanitise or disinfect. Dust and wipe cabinets, shelves and fixtures, vacuum carpets and upholstered furniture, wash and rinse surfaces, pick up toys and dishes and wash them in soap and water, sweep and mop floors - Is that familiar? As far as cleaning is concerned, this will work for the household surfaces and overall cleanliness of your home.\u00a0 Hate to say it...cleaning regularly makes your home spotless but does not eradicate the germs! This is where SANITISING and DISINFECTING come into play... Image Credit: Freepik 2. Sanitising It gets a little bit more exciting here! The word sanitise is practically on everyone\u2019s lips these days, but what does it REALLY mean? Here you go - It simply means significantly reducing the growth of germs such as viruses, harmful bacteria and fungi to a healthy level.\u00a0 So, it is REALLY important that we at least sanitise for a safer environment. Most definitely, you will need to sanitise high-traffic parts of your home every week (particularly the washroom and kitchen where harmful bacterias reside). Sanitising may be carried out by cleaning or disinfecting or both.\u00a0 There are many ways to sanitise, and this will mainly depend on your needs. You may be cleaning up the floor with a mop, a chemical solution mixed with water, or may be using a dishwasher to sanitise the dishes. If you both clean and disinfect a surface or item, it is even better! The good thing is that you do not have to wear a protective gear or set up a decontaminant chamber to get your home in its cleanest state - it is really simple and affordable to sanitise! Image Credit: Freepik 3. Disinfecting\u00a0 KILL\u00a0the germs! This is exactly what disinfecting does! Disinfection does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces, but it will KILL germs on surfaces and objects that are not visible to the naked eye, rather than just reducing them. Sounds good, right? That's what we are aiming for! Some surfaces require this step to be added. Chemicals are frequently used to kill germs on surfaces and objects. Bleach and alcohol solutions are common disinfectants.\u00a0 Top Tip: You will need to allow the solution to stay on the surfaces and objects for a period of time to fully destroy the germs before washing them off. Is Bleach a Sanitiser or Disinfectant? Bleach is a powerful sanitiser and disinfectant solution.\u00a0 Its active ingredient, sodium hypochlorite, denatures proteins in micro-organisms and is also effective in destroying bacteria, viruses and fungus. Depending on its concentration, this potent solution can be used as a disinfectant or a sanitiser. Classic household bleach is an effective tool that works quickly to disinfect germs and is readily available at low cost. Diluted household bleach is also recommended for sanitising and disinfecting areas in the home that may contribute to germ transmission. It is often used to clean the bathrooms or scrub the commonly-touched and shared surfaces in every corner of your house. CAUTION: Always refer to the instructions on the packaging for how to dilute bleach.\u00a0 And remember, never mix bleach with ammonia or some other cleaner. So, What Are The Places That Require A Little Bit More Of Your Attention One rule of thumb here: High traffic areas and surfaces in your home that get a lot touched is a germ bank. High-touch surfaces and commonly-shared objects must be cleaned and regularly disinfected to kill germs. This will include countertops, faucet and toilet handles, light switches, doorknobs, remotes and toys. When a household member is sick, it is advisable to use a disinfectant on all surfaces that the person may have contaminated with their germs. When to Sanitise? It is best to sanitise surfaces that do not normally come into contact with harmful bacteria or those that are best cleaned without the use of powerful chemicals.\u00a0 For example, cooking equipment or children's toys will be better suited for sanitisation, as you do not want them to come into contact with powerful chemicals. When to Disinfect? What does this mean for cleaning your household?\u00a0 You would definitely want to disinfect things like toilets or sinks that can come into contact with harmful bacteria.\u00a0 You would also want to disinfect high-touch areas like doorknobs and faucets. Here\u2019s A Tip: If you need to get rid of bacteria and viruses during the flu season, you would want to disinfect rather than sanitise. Clean and Disinfect Safely! Remember, it is really important to be safe when using cleaning and disinfecting items: \tWear gloves and include goggles or glasses to prevent potential eye hazards. \tEnsure adequate ventilation, for example, by opening windows. \tDo not mix products or chemicals unless otherwise specified on the labels. The mixture of the items (such as chlorine bleach and ammonia cleaners) may trigger serious injury or even death. \tBe very careful not to swallow, inhale or inject these chemical solutions into your bloodstream or apply them directly to your skin as they may cause serious harm. \tUse only the suggested amount on the label. \tUse water at room temperature for diluted solutions unless otherwise specified on the label. \tPut labels on diluted solutions. \tStore the chemical products in their initial packaging. Always follow the instructions and pay particular attention to the warnings on the label. \tStore and use chemicals beyond the control of children and pets. \tBe careful not to bathe or wipe pets with any cleaning and disinfection items. Did You Know? You can make your own cleaner! If you are sanitising, use 1 tablespoon of bleach to 1 gallon of room temperature water (or 1 teaspoon to 1 quart).\u00a0 Transfer the solution to the spray bottle and spray the liquid you intend to sanitize (or dip from the bucket and wipe the item with paper towels).\u00a0 Pre-wash the surface with detergent and water. Then soak with the sanitizing solution of bleach and water. Allow the surface contact solution for at least 2 minutes for optimum effectiveness. Drain and air dry. This remedy can be used on toys, cooking utensils, plastic cutting boards and items that will come into contact with the mouths. Next, if you are disinfecting, concentrations of 5.25% or 6%hypochlorite are safe for home use. This solution is used for cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting surfaces such as bathtubs, sinks, faucets, tiles, plastic toys, potted chairs, high chairs, changing tables, floors, appliances, countertops, garbage cans, walls, light switches, etcetera. Pre-wash the surface with detergent and water, then add the sanitising solution of bleach and water. Allow the surface contact solution for at least 5 minutes for optimum effectiveness.\u00a0 Afterwards, rinse and air dry. Important: Bleach concentrations vary, and you should check the label to prepare an effective solution. Source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention Note: Bleach solution will not be as effective after more than 24 hours of mixing with water. So, make a new diluted bleach solution every day. AND disinfectant wipes too! Cut paper towels in quarters and saturate them with 70% rub alcohol, which is also a disinfectant. Pack them in zippy bags and grab as needed. Important:\u00a0 Bleach and other disinfectant solutions are toxic, so you will need to make sure that you eliminate all traces of the disinfectant afterwards. Bleach solutions may discolour fabrics (your clothes, carpets, etcetera). Bleach is generally used to inactivate the contaminating bacterial spores, but safe as the major component for hand disinfectant \u2014 it is too caustic to the skin. It is all about mitigating as much risk as we can when it comes to bacterias and viruses. I hope this article helps to clear up any doubt you may have when it comes to cleaning, sanitising and disinfecting your home! Stay clean, stay healthy!