Most disinfecting cleaners claim to kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses but the way you're using them is probably not doing the job. With the recent Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, we've been on a cleaning frenzy and exploring the most effective and safe cleaning products to kill viruses in our home. Being a germaphobe, I frequently wipe down our countertops, door handles, light switches, bathrooms, etc. It wasn’t until this month when I switched to a less harmful disinfectant, which happened to coincide with the COVID-19 outbreak, that I dove into the virus killing capabilities of cleaners and discovered how they are intended to be used to kill viruses. I soon learned it’s not just what you use but how long you leave it on a surface that guarantees proper disinfecting!
What’s the best disinfectant?
I’m a fan of vinegar for a variety of uses, but it’s not my go-to for deep disinfecting. Research has shown it can be effective against some bacteria and viruses, including the flu, however, vinegar is not an EPA registered disinfectant or sanitizer. Unlike its competitors, vinegar does not kill 99.9% of germs. This concern lead me to explore alternatives that are as effective as bleach without harmful drawbacks. While powerful, bleach is capable of not only irritating sensitive tissue in the eyes, skin, mouth, and throat (think about how often we touch our face), but also contributing to long-term respiratory problems like asthma. Additionally, bleach can be hazardous to pets, wildlife, and ecosystems.
Okay, so how about your mainstream canister of disinfectant wipes? Similar to bleach, these are packed with potentially harmful chemicals that could irritate skin, lungs, and have been linked to asthma and reproductive harm. The instructions advise washing hands immediately after use, which doesn’t instill a sense of confidence when we’re frequently eating off the surfaces recently cleaned. Here’s the kicker, the small print directions for these products say in order to kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, the surface must be visibly wet for 4 minutes. Yes, you read that correctly, 4 MINUTES!
Instructions from label: “Use enough wipes for treated surface to remain visibly wet for 4 minutes.”
In my usage of these products I quickly go over a surface with a wipe that’s dried out by the time I get to the other side of the counter, there’s no way the disinfectant is saturating an area for 4 minutes. That would require quite a few wipes, emitting even more potentially harmful chemicals into the air inside our homes.
What’s the safest disinfectant?
What’s a safer alternative for killing viruses during critical times such as the Coronavirus outbreak? We recently discovered Force of Nature, which is just as effective as bleach for disinfecting. According to their website and independent 3rd part studies, “Force of Nature is an EPA registered disinfectant & sanitizer that kills 99.9% of germs*. The EPA has registered Force of Nature for disinfecting and sanitizing use in hospitals, ICUs, schools, daycares, veterinary clinics and more.”
The question we’re all eager to know. Does Force of Nature kill Coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Here’s what the website says: “Force of Nature has demonstrated effectiveness against viruses similar to COVID-19 on hard, non-porous surfaces. Therefore, Force of Nature can be used against COVID-19 when used in accordance with the directions for use against Norovirus on hard non-porous surfaces. Refer to the CDC website for additional information.”
How long do you need to use a disinfectant to kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses?
Force of Nature recommends “spraying the surface until thoroughly wet. Allow the surface to remain wet for 10 minutes. Wipe the surface with a clean cloth or towel or let air dry.” Fortunately, this family-friendly and effective electrolyzed water solution (hypochlorous acid combined with sodium hydroxide) comes in a reusable spray bottle, making it easier to saturate an area and let it sit. I’ve also been disinfecting our phones, watches, and other frequently used items with this powerful formula. Both the canister cleaner and Force of Nature instruct us to let the liquid sit on the surface for an extended period of time, which is eye-opening to OCD sanitizers such as me!
The ease of use and the lack of harmful ingredients made Force of Nature a no brainer when it comes to keeping the home clean and disinfected during this pandemic. I now spray our surfaces and set a timer on my watch for 10 minutes then wipe off any residual liquid. The capsules to ‘activate’ Force of Nature in the reusable bottle are very cost-effective and better for the environment than single-use plastic containers.
We’re not affiliated with Force of Nature, this is simply one learning in our evolution towards a less-toxic home over the last year. If you’re going to make any DIY home cleaning solutions during this time, it’s critical the ingredients have been tested and shown to kill both bacteria and viruses. If you’re like us, you’ve got a lot going on right now. We’re leaving the chemistry to the experts and opting to purchase a guaranteed disinfectant. Regardless if you choose a more mainstream brand or Force of Nature, be sure you’re leaving it on your surfaces for the directed amount of time, otherwise, it will not kill 99.9% of bacteria and viruses as the label suggests. Stay healthy!