sacrificing the environment to stay sanitised

suz1023September 30, 2012

as winter draws near i get a bit obsessive about dirty countertop, doorknobs and light switches, and i get a bit nuts with the bleach wipes.

i know white vinegar is a natural disinfectant, would that work as well if i sprayed them with it instead?

i'm especially diligent since dh's immune system is so compromised, if he got the flu it could be very dangerous to him.

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Annie Deighnaugh

Of course the best thing is to make sure your husband washes his hands. You can use green disinfectant wipes made from thyme extract or you can use washable rags rather than disposable wipes. Or look for wipes made of recycled material....

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 11:40PM
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I have to roll my eyes and shake my head everytime I get involved in one of these conversations.

In the old days, the world lived pretty 'green'.

However, millions starved, polio, typhus and the black plague ran rampant and a simple infection or the flu could, and many times did, kill you.

Do what you have to do to remain heathly. Bleach has done more to help further mankind than it has ever done to negatively impact the world we live in.

It's what we use to scrub down operating rooms.


    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 7:12AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

Yeah, Doc, one visit to an ER tells me how much garbage the medical system pumps into the waste stream on a single day...much of it unnecessary and done without thought. Especially fun when the medical waste washes up on seashores and closes beaches. Not to mention we are now living with chlorine-resistant bacteria. Besides the fact that 80% of US streams and waterways are contaminated with a variety of medications which is hastening the development of antibiotic resistant strains.

And you know, as well as I, that there were a lot of reasons why people who "lived green" back then died...including not understanding that there were germs and viruses or the importance of washing and bathing, or adequate sewage treatment or pest control.

I'm not an eco-nut by any means, but if we can find easy ways to be both healthy and green, I say go for it. And if fallingwaters wants to do what she can to keep her husband healthy without having to breathe in chlorine fumes as she cleans, then I'll do what I can to support her. Thank goodness some hospitals are starting to catch on and are doing what they can to reduce waste which, coincidentally, reduces costs to boot.

Pharmaceuticals taint water and wildlife

Here is a link that might be useful: Beach closed due to syringe tide

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 8:17AM
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"Not to mention we are now living with chlorine-resistant bacteria."

Do tell. Drugs maybe, not not chlorine.

Or you can use your old rag ad spread contamination all over the place.

Hospitals figured out long ago it is less expensive and safer to use 'one time' items for patent care.

No more cleaning and sterilizing bed pans.

No more autoclaveing glass syringes and needles for re-use.

You have YOUR bed pan, and when YOU are done with it it is disposed of.

Every syringe and needle is brand new and pathogen free.

Very expensive (endoscopy equipment) or simple solid metal items (hemostats) are cleaned and sterilized.

Does it make you fell better to now that the scope for your colonoscopy used on you has probably seen plenty of other colons before yours?

And they can only be chemically sterilized, not heat.

Even scalpels are routinely disposable.

Some are used to make single cut.

An orthopedic surgeon does not use the same scalpel on the skin as on the muscles, and the closer they get to bone the 'fresher' the scalpel is.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 8:43AM
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Okay, i get your point but i don't think the poster has any intentions of flooding the oceans with her families' medical waste, even if it is just a band aid or two.

Agree with doc. And of course hospitals should find alternate means of disposal for syringes and other highly toxic medical waste but all we're talking here is bleach vs vinegar. Quite frankly i would prefer bleach be used in a hospital or other such environment, but for home use vinegar would probably be fine. I would check with your husband's doctor just to be sure.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 9:01AM
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Isn't chloride a natural element? If so, than is it green? I was using lavander mixed with h20 til I read that in a concentrated state it was more harmful if ingested than bleach, so I have gone back to bleach as well. There is so much mixed science on what is "Green" and it seems any product can deem itself green that I think it might be best to stick to the old ways sometimes.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 9:16AM
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Its an ok idea to me - but its also nice to know how the product exactly works.

I looked up the Clorox wipes and there are a couple of things that were interesting. It does kill bacteria in TIME - they have a list of the bacteria it can kill showing kill times between 30 second and 3 minutes. Stupid as this is to say - when its dry, it stops working - so, that would be dead after being wet for 3 minutes, not that it takes 3 minutes for the bacteria to die after wiping.

Bleach solutions degrade over time. Bleach evaporates over time at room temperatures - even in a "sealed" plastic bottle. Its ability to work for the purpose of killing germs degrades over time as the bleach evaporates - meaning it would need a lot more time to kill less stuff. 3M has a nice chart of that. I do have some bathroom cleaners over 5 months old that I use rarely because they are strong - now I won't be doing that anymore.

According the internets, you can safely make and use your own solutions of bleach for disinfecting. If you start with a clean rag, the solution will work on the rag just as well as the touchable surfaces.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 9:28AM
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Fallingwaters -
Make your own bleach solution of a cup of bleach in a quart spray bottle, fill with water. Spray it on, use cloth towels to wipe the surface, and don't use towels on more than one surface. Wash and dry the towels and use them again.

Vinegar is NOT as effective as bleach.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 10:37AM
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As mentioned above, contact time is key in true disinfection. Check with the doctor about what is really needed, there's a good chance regular cleaning may be sufficient, with a little extra attention to things like surfaces used for raw meats. Completely depends on what his condition is, but if he's home that a good sign since he does not need a protective environment in a hospital.

Your best defense is easy. Flu shots for all, including DH if he is able (he would have to be extremely compromised to the point of being unable to mount a response to the vaccine to pass on this in most cases since the shot is a killed virus, cannot infect you). Check with the doctor to be sure, but he's got a great reason to be vaccinated.

Hand washing, proper physical removal of germs with acceptable washing technique, is much more important than having antibacterial soap.

Alcohol hand sanitizer for use outside the home when shopping, etc. Absolutely no touching of the face when out and about handling items or touching doorknobs without sanitizer first. No eating without washing the hands first. The eyes, nose, and mouth are the easiest way for germs to get in.

Sounds like you're taking great care of him, he's lucky!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 10:50AM
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Because my counters had gone dull, I was recently reading an old thread here in which it was suggested never to use vinegar on your granite or marble because the acid was too hard on the sealant. They recommended (for shining and cleaning) a 50-50 mix of good old rubbing alcohol and water in a spray bottle.

I have been using that for about two weeks now, and my counters have never looked better or felt cleaner. I think I will be getting rid of my Clorox wipes, too. But we feed raw to our four cats, and have raw meat out at least twice a day for them, plus our own meals, so as environmentally aware as I try to be, I am not taking chances with food prep. Our house-call veterinarian tells me that ideally one should allow at least two full minutes for alcohol or bleach to kill pathogens on any surface, and he cleans with alcohol.

A remark on mixing Clorox with water -- just passing on what I was told, with no scientific evidence. But when I volunteered at the animal shelter, we were told to clean only with freshly mixed Clorox and water, and to dump the bottle when done as Clorox loses its germ-killing effectiveness after a few hours mixed in water. True? Chemically, makes no sense to me. I would love to hear from someone here that that is not the case. I don't sling the Clorox indiscriminately, but I do believe in its usefulness.

Here is a link that might be useful: Thread on cleaning countertops

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 10:59AM
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It's nice to see people becoming concerned about the environment on this forum! Yes, all that bleach and all those chemicals do matter to our environment. I only use vinegar and lavender oil in my home for cleaning. Essential oils have natural properties to kill bacteria, fungus, and just about any problem I've come across. I also use the oil directly on cuts and have never seen an infection. And as a DIY'er, I'm afflicted by cuts frequently!

But I'm also one of those people who think that a proper diet keeps me healthier than most out there. I refuse to use bleach or other chemicals or for that matter, prescription drugs. Instead, for all disinfecting and treating myself, I turn to my cupboards and my garden. That's how it was done a ton of years ago, and that's how I will continue to do things.

I work in a hospital and take care of sick people daily. Yes, we do put out too much waste daily, and I hate that. I agree for surgical procedures, things need to be disinfected properly, for the betterment of the masses. However, if people took better care of themselves, ie; stop eating so much crappy processed 'foods', we wouldn't need so many procedures which lead to prescription drugs that we wouldn't need, which leads to side effects that we'd have to treat, and on and on. It's a vicious cycle that I choose to not partake in. And yes, it does all matter, and it does make a difference.

Ok, stepping off soap box now!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 11:08AM
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My dad had a liver transplant 20 some years ago so I do understand the immune compromised issue a little bit. I would check with the doctors to see what they say. My mom is extra careful about food prep and she's always been a good housekeeper (unlike me!) but she doesn't bleach the doorknobs in their house or anything.

Also, as others point out, those bleach wipes don't really do any good unless they stay in contact with the surface for a pretty long time. Very few people really use all those disinfectant cleaners in a way that lets them actually work.

Personally I try to restrict my bleach use to dire circumstances (dh tested positive for the swine flu and I had an infant at home, for example) and then I make sure it sits on the surface for a good long time before I wipe it up.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 11:12AM
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I just want to comment on the use of lavendar and tea tree oils.. Both are estrogen simulators and we were advised by doctors to avoid exposure especially for women.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 11:42AM
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I can only share my personal observations over my lifetime. I am considered a normal American male; walk in the house, open the fridge, grab something to eat. Before I got married, I would catch a cold every year and get the flu every other year. Pretty normal.

My wife of 25 years, however, is obsessed with germs in the household. She initially nagged me to the point of almost damaging our marriage on the importance of washing my hands. It drove me nuts. The harshest cleaning chemicals allowed in our house are hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol. But the key, apparently, is washing hands frequently. I now willingly wash my hands approximately 10 to 15 times a day. Sometimes it's just a quick rinse under running water if I am going into the kitchen from another room or other times it's a soap scrub for longer if I am coming in from outside or somewhere else more prone to picking up germs.

In the last 15 years, I have had three colds and one bout of flu with no changes to my lifestyle. To me, that is proof enough of the effectiveness of washing hands as the primary driver of disease-free living.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 11:50AM
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You may have heard reports that Lavender & Tea Tree essential oils are estrogenic and caused young boys to grow breasts. Concerned myself with xenoestrogens, I decided, of course, to look in to the subject.

Even though the story is all over the news and the Internet, there is actually only ONE study that makes these claims. So, I took a closer look at the study.

Originally published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the study details three young boys who had developed gynecomastia (breasts). The doctors treating the boys learned that each of them were using products with lavender or tea tree essential oils, and once they stopped using these products, the breasts went away. The researchers then took these case studies and decided to test the essential oils on human tissue in a lab. According to their study, the essential oils acted estrogenically, and thus could have been the cause of the breast development in the boys. However, I, along with numerous researchers and doctors have found some major flaws in the study.

Before I get in to more specifics--just a quick note. Looking at the footnotes of the study, you'll notice that all of the doctors who conducted the research are sponsored by numerous drug companies. 'Nuff said.

Three doctors (Kathi J. Kemper, M.D., M.P.H., Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27157; Aviva J. Romm, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510; Paula Gardiner, M.D., M.P.H., Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215) wrote a commentary on the study:

The study by Henley et al. (Feb. 1 issue)1 raises many questions. Product names were not provided. Did the authors contact manufacturers to report concerns or ask about constituents? The variability, adulteration, and contamination of herbal products have been widely reported,2,3 as have discrepancies between labels and contents.4 Plastic containers may contain phthalates, known endocrine disrupters.5 What was actually in the products cited in this report?

None of the hormonal testing showed abnormal results, except in Patient 2, who had elevated levels of testosterone (not estrogen). There was no report on ultrasound examination or needle biopsy, nor were subsequent weight changes reported. Might the patients' gynecomastia have reflected another pathophysiological process that resolved spontaneously?
Traditional use and clinical trials have not suggested estrogenic effects of tea tree or lavender oil, though estrogenic effects have been reported for other essential oils and plants. Are occupational exposures to lavender and tea tree associated with estrogenic symptoms? In vitro testing alone is not adequate grounds for indicting traditionally used products and may raise public fear.

The doctors bring up a few great points here, number one in my book is, what other estrogen mimickers were present in these products used on the young boys? Parabens? Phalates? The ingredients are not documented and could be a number of things--even from using bottles made with BPA.

But what about the laboratory tests they did on petri dishes of human cells? If you look carefully at their study, you'll notice they didn't apply pure lavender or tea tree essential oil on the cells they were testing, they used a solvent to dilute the oils. The solvent is dimethylsulfoxide---which, as it turns out, is an estrogen mimicker! (as documented here.)

The bottom line is that lavender and tea tree essential oils have been used for thousands of years with no history or evidence of estrogen mimicry. They're probably the most widely used essential oils in baby products, so of course the three boys in the study were using them. If lavender and tea tree essential oils were truly estrogen mimickers, we would have known about their effects long ago.

Here is a link that might be useful: article with links

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 11:52AM
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I would be more concerned with the natural estrogens in tofu, and the hormones that are pumped into chicken and ends up in milk(which I think is what is contributing to super early puberty), than I would lavender and tea tree oils.

I think the single most important thing for you and your husband to do is to wash your hands frequently. Unless there are a lot of outsiders touching all your doorknobs, I would not be superconcerned about the knobs and surfaces in your own house. You and your husband share much of your microflora anyway.

My mother was severely immunocompromised, but as a former healthcare worker herself, and with my father being a pathologist, they both did NOT use hand sanitizers or antimicrobial wipes or anything. The over use of all these things is what created things like MRSA. My parents kept things clean and washed their hands a lot. My mother was alwasy fine at home and in her general everyday environment, despite having minimal immunity.

The hospital was a different story. She was hospitalized often for various procedures and had MRSA a number of times. She was in a bad car accident and spent the last ten months of her life in some kind of hospital setting and it was a tightrope walk between controlling the MRSA and having her go into renal failure, or suppressing her immunity and get MRSA.

Anyway. I think over disinfecting in the home setting causes major problem not only to the environment, but to one's own natural immunity, either normal or supressed (I also treat immunocompromised patients). Soap and water cleanliness without the use of wipes, antimicrobial PENS (?) countertops and all that other (marketing tactics that makemoneyforpharmaceuticalcompaniesandbigindustry) are pretty unneccessary (imo).

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 12:11PM
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Sophie Wheeler

If there are health issues serious enough to worry about disinfection and/or sanitization rather than merely cleaning, then look at quaternary ammonia solutions. Or other approved sanitizers like Virkon, which will actually de-activate viruses and has a 5-7 day shelf life after mixing, unlike sodium hypochlorite (bleach) or alcohol. Alcohol is only partly effective against most viruses and is not effective against fungal and bacterial spores at all, thus it's a poor choice for sanitizing any bacteria laden kitchen area like a meat cutting board. It's probably fine for cleaning your counters, but don't delude yourself that you're disinfecting anything. A 1-in-5 dilution of household bleach with water (1 part bleach to 4 parts water) is effective against many bacteria and some viruses as a sanitizer. The solution is corrosive, and needs to be thoroughly removed afterwards, which most people do not realize and that is why a lot of "stainless" steel can exhibit rust in a kitchen environment. You've got to rinse after sanitizing. However, a lower concentration at the 1 TB per gallon can be used as a disinfectant without rinsing if allowed to remain wet for at least 5 minutes.

Remember than disinfecting is NOT the same thing as sanitizing. Sanitizing is a higher level of disinfecting and is what you need for cutting boards or sinks or an operating room, not the average kitchen counter.

If you want the environmentally safest home solution sanitizer, then hydrogen peroxide is probably it. It breaks down into water and oxygen and is fairly stable in solution for a long time. Put it in a quart spray bottle with a smidgen of dish soap to act as a surfactant and a tsp of vinegar to enhance the stability of the solution, and allow the surface being sanitized to remain wet for 4-5 minutes. It's what we use on the skin of the animals in our mobile spay/neuter clinic where I volunteer as well as an iodine scrub for the immediate surgical area. We use the Virkon to sanitize the entire clinic post proceedures always though. Our needs are far more stringent for sanitization than even most homes with immuno-compromised individuals though.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 12:31PM
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I like the idea of a diluted bleach solution and clean but re-usable towels instead of those disposable bleach wipes. Great idea.

Is soapy water as effective as diluted bleach? I do not have experience with immunocompromised individuals, but mostly I clean with soapy water and clean rags. Sometimes I use bleach wipes, but I've wondered if they're really doing anything for me. (But I love the diluted bleach bottle idea to replace the wipes in any case.)

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 2:15PM
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wow, what a response!
so to clarify, dh was severely enough immune compromised at one point that he caught viral meningitus from the hens. this was almost three years ago and his numbers are much better than beofre, but he may need chemo again so i'm gearing up mentally and stocking up also.

both of us have had cancers caused by chemical exposure, so for me if i can get safe results with tea tree oil type products than i prefer to do so.
otoh, i'm not going to risk anything i don't have to, ever if i can help it.
thanks for your very thoughtful replies, such a wealth of knowledge here!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 3:12PM
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I'll put in my two cents after caring for an immunocompromised baby (2lb 25-weeker, O2-dependent in NICU for 4.5 months) We didn't sanitize the home environment AT ALL above and beyond normal cleaning which for me doesn't involve any bleach etc. BUT we did use hand sanitizer constantly. You get hooked on it in the NICU. I guess it is less drying than constant hand-washing but regardless it became a habit to sanitize our hands every 10-15 minutes. It sounds like overkill but in the NICU it isn't; infection is a leading cause of all hospital death and our little one had we-don't-think-he-will-make-it sepsis twice.

Anyway, we had to keep him quarantined for a year and through a dangerous RSV season. For the first time before or since no one in our family got so much as a sniffle the entire year. I felt psychotic with stress so I would have expected to get MORE sick. I wish I could say we have kept up the regime but I was happy to give up the psychological strain of constantly worrying about germs (I am not a germaphobe and did not enjoy playing one for a year) and I simply wash my hands often now. BUT hand sanitizing with Purell CONSTANTLY (NOT one of the herbal/botanical environmentally friendly sanitizers) kept us well. And no, I am not exaggerating when I say that we Purell-ed every 10-15 minutes all day long. If I didn't remember if I had used Purell 10 minutes ago, I used it again :)

So I am biased in thinking that if you sanitize your hands constantly it is more effective than sanitizing your otherwise reasonably clean environment :) I think a bunch of big bottles of hand sanitizer MIGHT be better for the environment than those wipes also...

I agree that asking your doctor is a good idea. We were given tons of info (some of it brutally ridiculous) but no one ever told us to sanitize door knobs and stuff...I guess if you touch a dirty doorknob but sanitize your hands before you pick up your baby the dirty door knob matters less?

I don't use Purell at all right now, except under the most specific circumstances- the smell reminds me of terror and grief. BUT if this babe ends up being a preemie you bet I will slather on those chemicals :)

Ethyl alcohol is the active ingredient in Purell. Would that really be a chemical one would worry about? I don't put alcohol in the same category as toxic-to-the body-and-environment chemicals...but I am not as well-educated in the chemicals-are-bad as many.

If you want to continue on the spray and wipe route check out "unpaper towels" on Etsy. Lots of homemade paper towels made of super thin fabric that would give you many many more towels per wash load and they have cute/convenient holders etc. They would be more like reusable wipes than a typical cleaning rag.

I hope you find solutions you are comfortable with. It really can be a psychological strain for some trying to balance between the wonders of modern medicine and keeping sick loved ones well and trying to be environmentally friendly and socially responsible etc. (I hate waste and the enormous amount of waste I saw everyday we were in the hospital did stress me out...every paci on the floor went straight in the trash, OF COURSE, but it still stressed me out!)

Here is a link that might be useful: unpaper towels on Etsy :)

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 6:58PM
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I just bought a green cleaner - the main ingredients are vinegar and orange - I have been using on our sink - need to verify if Cambria can tolerate the combo - but the sink is good so far....
I also bought a lot of microfiber towels and microfiber sponges - I pop them into the wash and clean and less paper towel waste (but we still have stock in paper towels LOL - with an OCD DH)
It is a spray - so you can probably make your own.
Good points on the lavender - never heard that before - might have to check it out.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 7:36PM
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I use hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle. There isn't much that that isn't safe to use on, and as mentioned, it degrades to water and oxygen. A big plus is that it's also a great laundry stain remover for blood, grass and other organic based stains.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 7:52PM
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If you are still thinking about the vinegar water solution, you might want to check into how frequently it needs to be freshly mixed. It seems that that would degrade like the bleach water solutions, which is what I recall reading a while back (but don't remember where...)

I hope you and your husband will have a happy, healthy winter together.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 9:19PM
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If I interjected the doorknob thing with my comment above, please let me clarify. That was a very poorly constructed sentance!

I meant that if you are out and about running errands, where you are handling merchandise and touching public surfaces such as door knobs, or escalator rails, or money, or similar, then you should use alcohol on your hands before touching your face or eating. Not that you should use it on the surface. My bad!

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 10:08PM
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Check your orange oil products, because many of them are actually petroleum based, which shouldn't be breathed.

I am sure glad I grew up before they invented germs.
Back when the 3 second rule meant something.
Oh, the good old, filthy, germy days.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 1:40AM
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We live by the ten second rule around here... course, we also get colds more frequently than is optimal. Plus, one of us is immunocompromised (not severely) too.

All of which, in company of the above, is inspiring me to get more (temporarily) religious about washing hands. I didn't read the above long thread ultra-carefully, but don't think I recall reading too much about the contribution of sheer physical abrasion -- as in "scrubbing" -- one's hands or whatever surface we're talking about (counters, doorknobs, cutting boards, teeth). It's my understanding from a giant-mega-stack of studies that while chemical cleaning is necessary for about the last 20-or so percent of germs (so to speak), a good 80-or-so percent of killing goes on just by rubbing hard.

Yes, I know this is a bit of a silly way of looking at things or at least quantifying them. Bottom line is - do wash a lot, frequently and well, including in crevices (underneath fingernails, in between fingers, zero-radius sinks, granite countertop cracks, etc). At the sanitizing-level it's an overstatement to say that what you use to clean doesn't matter as much as how you clean -- but at the household level I'm pretty sure that cleaning manufacturers aside, this is pretty much agreed to be true.

Elbow grease. I'm guessing it's a concept a lot of folks on this list can get behind. And faithfulness to actually doing any cleaning at all. I'm gonna pledge to be better at this last.... ;)

But the good news (and connection to the OP) is that if the term "sanitised" is not taken literally, but colloquially, you don't really have to sacrifice the environment much to stay really pretty clean.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 2:10AM
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Just a quick note on alcohol and granite. In our bathroom have dark granite which I don't believe ever needs to be sealed. Use an alcohol mix with no issues.

White diamond aka BA granite just installed. Installers said granite is sealed and should use alcohol sparingly as it was degrade the sealer over time. Not sure what I'm going to do here.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 11:12AM
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Brickeye- there are chlorine resistant bacterium, I found that out when my kids developed "hot tub rash" in a well chlorinated hot tub. The bacteria creates a slimy coating which makes it hard for the chlorine to penetrate.

Here is a link that might be useful: pseudomonas aeruginosa resistance to chlorine

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 11:59AM
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My take on this seems to be a little different than everyone else's here so I guess I will chime in.

First, let me start by saying obviously you have a greatly different decision to make with family members to care for with compromised immune systems.

I really believe that a lot of our children's current allergy and health issues are arising from our over-use of chemicals and over-cleaning and sanitizing of their environment. Yes, it is true, good hygiene and cleanliness have added many years to our average life span, but I believe at some point we hit the tipping point from all beneficial effects to over doing it. We have started making out children's bodies completely dependent on absolute cleanliness. They are not developing their own immune systems to fight off simple things like peanuts and we are creating new problems.

With that being said, obviously we still clean our house! I just like to avoid using chemicals and I don't run around over sanitizing our home all winter making sure they never get the sniffles. I do use steam cleaning which I have not yet seen mentioned here yet. I have a steam mop and a hand held steam wand. From top to bottom in my entire house, the only chemicals I use to clean with would be toilet bowl cleaner with bleach (haven't found a good substitute for that that I am will to use) and a bit of windex on the windows. I have bleach in the house, but don't use it often. If there is issues with laundry, I usually use Borax (one of the great forgotten all round fabulous cleaners).

I am curious as to why steam hasn't been mentioned. It is a great way to clean and sanitize. There is absolutely no impact to the environment either by chemicals or by waste as you just toss the cleaning pads if you are using any into the washer to be cleaned and re-used. I have been using my steam mop and wand system since I was pregnant with my first, she turned 3 in July. It is a wonderful way to clean.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 12:01PM
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Circus Peanut

Kali, I can concur on the steam cleaning. I was skeptical, but my German relatives insisted I try it out and I'm now a convert. Amazing! I've never been able to get floor grout this clean before; ditto bathroom tile, shower fixtures, etc. All without the use of chemicals at all. Knowing that it's also killing some scary things (bedbugs!) with its 240degree steam is just a bonus.

That said, it's definitely an investment to purchase a quality steamer ($600 and up), but sooo worth it, and you can find good refurbished models on eBay etc.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 1:40PM
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