Here’s a surprising fact: on one square inch of human skin, you will find (not literally) more than 600,000 microorganisms. Most of them are harmless to humans. Many of them are, in fact, necessary to human health. But some kinds of microorganisms are known as pathogens. They can be dangerous and, sometimes,deadly.
Cleaning removes pathogens from the surface, but it doesn’t kill them. Disinfectants do. That’s why they’recritical in helping prevent the spread of colds, flu and other illnesses.
1. Remember that clean hands are your first line of defence
Frequently-touched surfaces range from the kitchen table to the cereal boxes in your supermarket. They are a breeding ground for germs. When your hands touch these surfaces, the germs get transferred to you. Scratching your forehead, rubbing your nose, basically any minor action can bring the germs close to entry points like your nose and mouth, putting you at risk. If you’re at home, washing your hands with soap and water will protect you. But if you’re travelling, your access to a sink might be restricted. Carrying disinfectants in the form of wet wipes are a convenient way to protect yourself no matter where you are.
2. Routinely clean ‘high-touch’ areas
High-touch areas refer to surfaces that are frequently touched by different pairs of hands, increasing the risk of germ deposits on those surfaces. Here are a few to get your list started:
- Door handles, faucets, lights and switches
- Bathrooms (don’t forget the flush)
- Sofas, armchairs and pillows
- Children’s toys
- Kitchen counters
- Phones, tablets and remote controls
3. Clean before you disinfect
Germs are clever. While disinfecting does kill germs on the surface of an object, if you don’t clean the surface first, germs can hide under the dirt, reducing the efficiency of the disinfectant. Cleaning removes loose dirt particles, making it easier for the disinfectant to do its job.
4. Don’t mix different types of disinfectant
Mixing different disinfectants is the worst thing you can do. They may have chemical properties that cancel each other out, drastically reducing their effectiveness.
5. Read the label
Chemical labels contain important information including guidelines for proper use, directions in case of an emergency, and warnings. They also tell you the “dwell time” – the amount of time the disinfectant needs to kill the necessary germs. Wiping a disinfectant dry before the dwell time ends, reduces the number of germs it kills.
6. Cleaning your phone is really important
It goes where you go. It sits on top of surfaces, it’s with you on the subway, and it comes into contact with your face. Eighty percent of homes that have a child with the flu also have phones with the flu virus on them. Cleaning your phone isn’t enough, you also need to disinfect it regularly (a simple wet wipe will do) to protect yourself.