How to Safely Sanitize Surfaces at Home
For most of us, having a sick loved one in the home compels us to sanitize the most frequently used surfaces — doorknobs, light switches, kitchen and bathroom countertops, to name a few. But how well do commonly used cleaners actually sanitize?
The first thing to know is that cleaning and sanitizing (or disinfecting) are different processes that typically need to happen together. First, clean to remove dirt and grime, understanding that simple cleaning alone does not remove many pathogens like bacteria and viruses. The next step, sanitizing, removes or deactivates these pathogens — but even then, not every cleaner will kill every type of pathogen.
Have you ever wondered how to make your own disinfecting spray or whether hydrogen peroxide can sanitize surfaces in your home? In this Homegrown segment, Ben Chapman, NC State Extension food safety specialist, takes us through the proper way to sanitize surfaces in our homes. He offers tips to help to remove the uncertainty from choosing disinfectants to protect our family from illness-causing germs that are prevalent in our environment at a given time.
It’s essential to remember that some combinations of cleaners can be lethal if inhaled, so always clean in a well-ventilated area (windows open, oven hood running, bathroom fans running, etc.) and avoid combinations of cleaners that are toxic!
For more information on safely sanitizing your home, see the list of resources below:
- CDC Guidance on cleaning homes with suspected coronavirus disease.
- Our NC State Extension COVID-19 Resources site provides research-backed information from university specialists to help families navigate this unprecedented public health event.
- NC State Extension Guidance on overall food safety at home and in the kitchen.
- You can also find Extension resources for Washing and Sanitizing Kitchen Items after a flood.
- NC State Extension’s Healthy Homes provides detailed steps and tips for maintaining a clean and healthy home.