How to Kill Any Germ in Your Home

Germs are talked about a lot nowadays. Avoiding germs and killing germs are high priority now that the novel coronavirus has made it’s mark on the world. So now people are not only trying to get healthy but also stay healthy. And getting rid of germs is a big part of that.

So here’s your complete guide to killing any germ that may be living in or around your home:

One of the first things to know is that temperature plays a major part in getting rid of germs.

Temperatures to remember:

113°F: Wash your dishes with a sanitizer, like dish soap, under water that is at least 113°F. Wear gloves to protect your skin from the hot temperature.

140°F: Wash your clothes at high temp around 140-150°F along with a product that contains bleach in order to disinfect them from harmful viruses. Also, be sure to throw your clothes in the dryer afterward for another blast of hot air. Your dryer won’t kill 100% of germs, but it can help.

165°F: To kill any pathogens that might be living in your food, cook them at 165°F or boil them in water at least that hot. These temperatures can also kill any germs that might be contaminating your drinking water.

200°F: Ever wonder how to clean a sponge? You can use your microwave to kill germs and viruses that may be growing inside of it making it smell funky.

Germs in the Air

When it comes to killing airborne germs that are present in the air of your home, the solutions will be limited because various methods used to kill germs in the air may be potentially dangerous to the human occupants and even pets in the environment. However, there are other types of methods that can be used safely inside this indoor space to help remediate and ultimately eliminate these germ collections in the air. Two of the most popularly used solutions to removing airborne germs are the use of air filtration devices and UV lamps – and sometimes both of these methods are used together.

Air filtration is important when it comes to a high concentration of pollutants in the air space, especially pathogens like germs (bacteria, viruses, etc.). There are a variety of different air filtration technologies that can be used to mitigate the air space of hazardous pollutants, and some of these will be effective when it comes to capturing the fine particulate matter of germs – while others will simply be ineffective in this pursuit. In addition, UV lamps will suck in the air and also allow the air to be exposed to the germicidal light to eradicate these pathogens that come into contact with this light source. When you are looking for a solution to eradicating germ pollutants from the air, an air purifier that utilizes both air filtration and UVC lights will be a double threat against these airborne germs.

Does an air purifier help with germs and their removal from the air? An air purifier that uses UV-C light as their technology can help to expose microbes in the air to the ultraviolet light, this will kill or inactivate germs and bacteria that come into contact with the light source. The UV-C light, when used in conjunction with other technologies such as a HEPA filter, will help to capture the microorganism (bacteria, germs, and mold spores) and allow for long exposure times to the germicidal UV-C light.

Germs on Your Cell Phone

The American Cleaning Institute (ACI), a trade group that represents product manufacturers, recommends wiping down your phone at least once a day.

How Long Can Germs Live on Your Cell Phone?

Answers vary. Influenza A and B viruses survive 24 to 48 hours on hard, nonporous surfaces such as stainless steel or plastic, according to a study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

An article published in April 2020 in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the coronavirus could remain active on plastic and stainless steel surfaces for two to three days.

When Should You Wash Your Cell Phone?

Clean your phone at least once a day as a preventive measure recommends the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Try to keep your phone in your pocket, purse, or car when you go out; if you need to pull it out, wash or sanitize your hands before and after, and wipe down your phone when you return home.

Germs on your Laundry

Laundry and other linens can easily harbor bacteria that can cause an illness to return or spread.

There are a number of products you are familiar with such as: – Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soaps

– Hunter’s Edge Silver Laundry Detergent

– Lysol Laundry Sanitizer

– Clorox Bleach

Besides using any of the proven cleaners listed above for germs in your laundry, there are other natural cleaners that disinfect just as well.

To use white vinegar, add 1 cup of it to the rinse cycle. This is very effective for killing bacteria, and will also help to deodorize laundry (which is a good sign that odor-causing bacteria has been killed). It is also an effective fabric softener, and helps to keep colors bright.

To use hydrogen peroxide, add 1 cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide to the wash. Be sure to spot test the peroxide first though as it can have a bleaching effect on some fabrics.

Borax can be used in addition to your regular detergent. It is especially effective as an antifungal, but also helps as a disinfectant.

Pine oil is very effective at disinfecting. The greater the amount of pine oil in a product, the better it will clean. Add one cup of a pine oil product to the wash, such as Pine-Sol or Olde Tyme Super Pine Cleaner. This should not be used on silk or wool. Keep in mind that the pine odor may remain after washing, and it also can be very allergenic. Running a second rinse cycle can help to remove any remaining residue. Also, use caution with this if you have cats as pine oil is toxic to them.

Germs in Your Food

When it comes to germs getting and staying in your food, there are three main factors: keeping foods separate, cooking food thoroughly and storing food correctly.

Separating food

Consumer safety website, FoodSaftey.gov says use one cutting board for fresh produce or other foods that won’t be cooked before they’re eaten, and another for raw meat, poultry, or seafood. Replace them when they are worn.

Use separate plates and utensils for cooked and raw foods.

Wash thoroughly all plates, utensils, and cutting boards that touched raw meat, poultry, seafood, or eggs before using them again. Use hot, soapy water.

In your shopping cart, separate raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs from other foods and place packages of raw meat, poultry, and seafood in plastic bags if available. When you check out, place raw meat, poultry, and seafood in separate bags from other foods.

At home, place raw meat, poultry, and seafood in containers or sealed plastic bags. Freeze them if you’re not planning to use them within a few days.

In the fridge, keep eggs in their original carton and store them in the main compartment—not in the door.

Heating up food

You should keep food hot (140˚F or above) after cooking.

If you’re not serving food right after cooking, keep it out of the temperature danger zone by using a heat source like a chafing dish, warming tray, or slow cooker.

Microwave food should be cooked thoroughly 165˚F or above.

Read package directions for cooking and follow them exactly to make sure food is thoroughly cooked.

If the food label says, “Let stand for x minutes after cooking,” follow the directions — letting microwaved food sit for a few minutes enables colder areas to absorb heat from hotter areas.

Stir food in the middle of heating. Follow package directions for commercially prepared frozen food; some are not designed to be stirred while heating.

Germs on Surfaces

You should use household cleaning products to disinfect high-touch areas in your home, like:

Countertops

Rails

Tables

Backs of chairs

Light switches

Faucets

Toilets

Refrigerator doors

Doorknobs

Remote controls

If it is touched throughout the day, clean it! Once a day may not be enough because no one is sure yet how long these germs can live on specific surfaces. You should sanitize these areas several times each day.

Also, a quick swipe of a damp paper towel is not enough to kill the germs. Tables and countertops, for example, need to be visibly wet for several minutes. Check the side of the cleaner as it usually states a suggested time that the surface needs to be wet to make the maximum impact.

November 11, 2020 by Marcus Greenlee, BDO Contributing Writer

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