If you’ve been following us for a while, you know we’re not big on “sanitizer” or “disinfectant” cleaning products. We consider these words red flags on labels as they typically indicate the product contains an EPA-registered pesticide, which is designed to kill, and has been shown to encourage the proliferation of superbugs. Given this new information, the FDA now recommends against consumer use of sanitizers and disinfectants with harmful ingredients.1.
This comes as a shock to many of us “clean freaks”, since we thought we were doing the right thing by sanitizing often. Unfortunately, over-sanitizing with disinfectants designed to kill causes clever bacteria and germs to mutate into stronger more dangerous germs2. Plus, did you know that simply spraying and wiping a surface with a chemical disinfectant does not kill all germs? Unbeknownst to most consumers, these products require “dwell time” of up to 10 minutes, and even then they can leave behind resistant germs which further strengthen and mutate. Not what you want in a healthy home!
REMOVE GERMS INSTEAD OF KILLing them
To take care of germs safely, it’s best to REMOVE them! The CDC has done testing that shows conclusively that cleaning with a soap or cleaner removes all germs without leaving behind resistant bacteria3,4. So for everyday cleaning, a natural soap or cleaner like Branch Basics is all you need to remove (not kill) germs safely and effectively.
How to Remove Germs Using Branch Basics
- Spray Branch Basics directly onto the surface
- Allow 2-5 minutes “dwell time”
- Wipe surface clean
How to Disinfect Using Vinegar and Hydrogen Peroxide
For tough jobs, like mold removal or serious sanitizing and disinfecting of cutting boards, you can use vinegar or hydrogen peroxide which both have been proven to kill germs. Or to pack a punch that has been shown to be even more effective at killing germs than chlorine bleach or any commercial kitchen cleaner, use a combination of distilled white vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide (stored in separate bottles) on surfaces5,6.
- Branch Basics All-Purpose or Bathroom cleaner
- Split fiber Microfiber
- Distilled White Vinegar (5% acidity) and/or Hydrogen Peroxide (3% solution–brown bottle)
- A spray nozzle for the brown bottle of peroxide
- A spray bottle for the vinegar (or a spray nozzle for the bottle if it will fit)
- If the surface has dirt, grease and grime it is best to clean the surface first with a microfiber and Branch Basics or soap and water before using the vinegar or hydrogen peroxide or a combination of the two. Rinse with hot water—especially if the surface is a cutting board. Just these first two steps can completely remove germs, but if there is still concern on cutting boards or other surfaces continue.
- If you decide to use both the vinegar and hydrogen peroxide they must be in separate bottles—do not combine. Screw a spray nozzle top onto your brown bottle of hydrogen peroxide. Exposure to light breaks down hydrogen peroxide so the brown bottle protects it. Put white distilled vinegar in a separate spray bottle, or find a nozzle that will just fit onto your bottle of vinegar
- Spray the surface with one of the liquids. You can start with either the vinegar or the peroxide. After spraying, let it sit for 5 minutes (dwell time), then wipe with a microfiber. If you choose to use the combination then proceed to the next step.
- Repeat with the other bottle by spraying the surface, letting it sit for 5 minutes (dwell time), and then wipe with a microfiber.
When To Use A Disinfectant Spray Vs. Soap And Water
It is easy to take care of germs without using sanitizers or disinfectants with harmful ingredients. Remember, studies have shown the best way to remove germs from surfaces without making them resistant is to use hot water and soap. Here are a few examples of when it is appropriate to use a natural disinfectant spray like vinegar and/or hydrogen peroxide:
- Cutting boards or surfaces which have come into contact with raw meat, fish, or seafood
- Non porous toys—especially those your baby may put in mouth.
- Cell phones.
- Toilet seats—especially after someone has been sick.
- Surfaces soiled by pets (or children!).
- Baby’s feeding tray table.
- Door knobs.
- TV remotes and controllers—especially when a family member is sick.
- Sinks that have come into contact with raw meat, fish, or seafood.
- Computer keyboards—spray microfiber with vinegar and wipe, then wipe with hydrogen peroxide.
It is also appropriate to increase the use of natural disinfectant sprays during cold and flu season, or if a family member has a contagious illness.
Use common sense, avoid taking clean-to-the-extreme, use these natural disinfectants to avoid creating superbugs, and remember not all germs are bad! Plenty of research has shown that regular exposure to harmless bacteria and germs actually strengthens your gut microbiome and immune system, which will protect you from a variety of acute and chronic ailments7.