Disinfecting After the Flu

With flu season approaching and more new cases of swine flu being reported daily, careful disinfecting of your environment is more important than ever. People become infected by the flu by either sharing an environment with an infected person or by touching an infected surface.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "flu viruses are thought to spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing of people with influenza. Sometimes people become infected by touching something with flu viruses on it and then touching their mouth or nose." During and after someone in your home or work environment has experienced the flu, make sure to clean surfaces such as countertops, door handles, faucets, glasses, utensils, keyboards, tabletops and countertops, toys, cribs, pens, pencils, etc.

Antibacterial Products

Stop using them! Antibacterial cleaning products have been touted as the easy and best cleaner. However, the long-term environmental and health costs have only recently been discovered. Like antibiotics, the CDC warns that overuse and abuse of anti-bacterial products can lead to the emergence of more virulent, antibiotic, anti-bacterial resistant strains. Antibacterial products were designed to protect vulnerable patients from infection. They are not useful in the healthy household. Furthermore, in a Reuters article entitled Antibacterial wipes can spread superbugs: study, Gareth Williams, a microbiologist at Cardiff University said, "While the wipes killed some bacteria, a study of two hospitals showed they did not get them all and could transfer the so-called superbugs to other surfaces." According to the study, health care workers wiped multiple surfaces such as tables, bed rails, and monitors with a single wipe, basically spreading germs around.

How to Disinfect Your Home or Business the Natural Way

In general, kitchens and bathrooms are the most frequently used areas and where germs proliferate. After someone has been ill with the flu, disinfecting these high traffic areas is even more important. Disinfect with a bleach solution or another disinfectant to prevent spreading germs.

Make Your Own Eco-Friendly, Natural Disinfectant Solution:

1/2 cup tea tree natural castile soap 1 cup distilled water 1/2 tsp. borax powder 1/2 tsp. tea tree oil 1/2 tsp. lavender essential oil.

Combine all ingredients and shake bottle vigorously until powder dissolves. Spray surface and wait for one minute before wiping with a clean cloth. 

More Disinfectants and Healthy Practices

Other disinfecting agents include hydrogen peroxide, ethanol (grain alcohol), isopropanol (rubbing alcohol), and household bleach (sodium hypochlorite). Most bleaches are hazardous if ingested or inhaled, can damage fabrics, and should be handled with care. To boost the disinfecting power of your natural disinfectant solution, wipe with one of these agents first and then use the solution detailed above.

While most flu germs are spread by air, some may be spread by contact with infected surfaces. Encouraging everyone in your home or business to wash their hands with soap and hot water frequently throughout the day will help reduce the spread of flu germs. Using non-antibacterial, natural disinfectants after an illness will help keep your environment healthy for everyone.

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