Keeping Your Home Safe – Sanitizing or Disinfecting?
There is nothing like that feeling of satisfaction when you survey your newly cleaned home. But we all know that just because something looks clean, it doesn’t mean that it truly is clean, because germs that can cause illness are all around us. Some germs, such as Salmonella, E. Coli, canine parvovirus or Influenza can persist on hard surfaces all around us at home, at work and at school. Some can persist on those surfaces for a year or more. For more than a century now, we have been taught to sanitize and clean so as to remain healthy and germ free. Preventing the spread of illness through hard surface disinfection or sanitizing can help keep your family safe and healthy. But what ‘level of clean’ is appropriate for your home?
Here are some tips to help you decide what ‘level of clean’ is appropriate for your home and work place.
What is the difference between Disinfecting and Sanitizing?
A non-technical explanation is that disinfecting means that you kill 99.999% of germs within a certain time limit (usually not exceeding 10 minutes). Disinfecting ensures a high level of clean. Sanitizing means that you kill 99.9% of germs within 1 minute. The difference between 99.999% and 99.9% may not seem like much to you or me, but a microbiologist will tell you it is a big difference. Certainly it takes more work to achieve disinfection. Sanitizing, on the other hand, is a level of clean that is practical and realistic and can be achieved in 1 minute.
How do I Know Whether to Disinfect or Sanitize?
You can think of disinfection and sanitizing as 2 points on a continuum. To the right is disinfected. In the middle is sanitized. To the left is dirty. Disinfection will require a high degree of care to achieve. This means more work. Often, however, that level of cleanliness is what is needed. If, for example, you brought home a new puppy and then discovered that the pup had canine parvo virus, you would need to thoroughly disinfect, because that is a really difficult pathogen that can live for a long time on a wall or something, just waiting for the right conditions to activate again.
Your bathroom, for another example, is probably a place where you would want to get closer to disinfection. In other places, ‘sanitizing’ is likely a level of clean that is ‘clean enough’. We’ll never get rid of all the germs in our homes, but we can find the ‘degree of clean’ on that continuum where our families can live safely and happily.
Where Exactly are These Germs?
High-touch areas where many people will put their hands such as door knobs, light switches, computer keyboards and mice, refrigerator door handles, car door handles, telephones (both desktop and hand helds) even pencils and markers! Any surface where many hands touch is a candidate to spread germs.
Kitchen – the cutting board is a surface that needs to be cleaned regularly and well, lest that chicken you cut up spread germs (such as salmonella) to your tomatoes and lettuce. Sanitizing your cutting boards regularly will go a long way towards keeping your family safe. The door handle to your fridge – in addition to the inside – is another area where you can expect that germs will multiply if allowed. The sink drain area, being wet often, is a growth spot for germs. Add faucet handles to the list
Bathroom – as crazy as this may sound, there are studies showing that the bathroom is cleaner than your kitchen. This may or may not be true for you, but in many homes, bathrooms are the subject of frequent and intense cleaning. Especially when those homes have small children. High touch surfaces here would include the toilet flush handle, light switches, the hand towel, handles to the shower and cabinet doors. Don’t forget the shower floor!
Office – how many of you eat or drink at your desk? I know my computer keyboard is too scary to think about. Then there is also office equipment where many hands other than just yours touch.
Classrooms – all it takes is one kid coming to school with the flu, and it can spread rapidly.
Other hard surfaces that need regular cleaning include countertops, toys, changing tables and remote controls.
|Buy a Gallon of SNiPER Disinfectant & Odor Eliminator
You can dilute SNiPER by 6 to 1 for no-rinse Sanitizing.
First, clean any mess that is present. Then just spray dilute SNiPER onto that surface, and walk away. It’s that easy. It’s that effective. Just one minute to a ‘sanitized’ level of clean!
Can I ‘sanitize’ food preparation surfaces such as cutting boards with SNiPER?
Yes, you can. Clean away any debris first, then spray diluted SNiPER onto the board – and walk away allowing it to air dry naturally. It’s that easy. It’s that effective. Again it is just one minute to a sanitized level of clean.
How do I use SNiPER to disinfect a hard surface?
Pre-Cleaning Instructions: Remove gross filth and heavy soil by cleaning. Thoroughly wet surfaces, by spray, sponge, mop, or immersion, with SNIPER® on to soiled surfaces then thoroughly clean and wipe away gross filth with sponge or cloth.
Disinfect Hard Non-Porous Surfaces: For disinfection of pre-cleaned hard non-porous surfaces such as glass, plastic, painted or finished wood, chrome, stainless steel, aluminum, polyurethane coated hardwood floors, glazed ceramic tile, sealed concrete and linoleum floors.
Disinfect Items such as appliances, bed frames, wheelchairs, chairs, counters, tables, doorknobs, cabinet handles, handrails, light switch covers, tubs, showers, toilets, faucets, sinks, waste containers, etc.
Spray SNiPER® at full strength wetting surfaces thoroughly. Allow surfaces to remain visibly wet for 5 minutes for disinfection of bacteria1. Allow surfaces to remain wet for 10 minutes for virus inactivation2.
1) Allow surfaces to remain visibly wet for 5 minutes for disinfection of Gram-negative bacteria and Gram-positive bacteria, Salmonella enterica ATCC 10708, Staphylococcus aureus ATCC 6538, Pseudomonas aeruginosa ATCC 15442, Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) ATCC 33591, Vancomycin Resistant Enterococcus faecalis (VRE) ATCC 51299.
2) Allow surfaces to remain wet for 10 minutes for virus inactivation of Swine Influenza virus, Type A (H1N1)* ATCC VR-
333 and Canine Parvovirus* ATCC VR-953.
We all love our pets (Pets are family!) but sometimes they may leave a little mess for us to clean. If that little mess is a hard surface, then it’s usually not a problem – clean away the urine (or other), spray some Nok-Out right there, and walk away allowing it to air dry, problem solved. But if that surface is soft or thick, (think sofa or carpet), then it becomes a bit more challenging to clean and deodorize pet-related issues. Carpet Cleaning with Nok-Out or SNiPER removes the odor and helps your carpet to smell normal again! (and may redeem your pet!)
Puddle on the Carpet
Puddles left in the night will be pulled down deep into – and below – the carpet by the force of gravity. When you wake up, there’s a damp spot on top, but the puddle remains below. As it dries, bacteria get a hold of it and, oh my! It can become terribly stinky. When dealing with a puddle, remember that Nok-Out can only do its work, when it is in direct contact with all of the odor source. If the urine is all the way down to the concrete slab or other flooring, then somehow Nok-Out needs to go there as well.
You can spray right on that spot using a trigger sprayer, but the tiny little droplets that come out of the sprayer will just float on the surface of your carpet and not necessarily go down all the way. This is a great time to dilute Nok-Out heavily and just pour it onto that same area. Allow it to sit for 15 – 20 minutes, then get old towels and spread them out. Walk on them over and over to blot up the excess fluid as much as possible. Use a wet vac if you have one – you want to remove as much of that fluid as possible. Put fans on the area to dry it out as quickly as you can.
Hint: Each one of the carpet strands acts like the wick in a candle and as your carpet is drying, it is also pulling up stuff from deep down in your carpet. This is why ‘spots’ sometimes come back after a cleaning – wicking action. The solution is to remove as much of that liquid as you possibly can, and speed the drying, to reduce this wicking behavior.
|Buy a Gallon of SNiPER Disinfectant & Odor Eliminator
|Buy a Gallon of Nok-Out Odor Eliminator
Whole Carpet Cleaning – Professional Cleaning
I recently met a nurse who works 12 hour shifts. She couldn’t always get someone to go let her dog out to pee. As you might expect, her carpet had serious odor issues from repeated peeing. She had had the carpet professionally cleaned, but they only really cleaned the surface – above the mat backing for her carpet. The smelly stuff deep down was still there and her apartment still stank terribly. We found her a carpet cleaner who did Hot Water Extraction cleaning and had the right tool for DEEP cleaning. They poured gallons of water on the areas and then vacuumed it all back out using the deep extraction tool. The water coming up was a horrible yellow color! But after many gallons of water, it started to come up clear again – most of the urine was gone.
We finished up by doing one more round of pouring a couple of gallons of water that had a 20% mix of Nok-Out (5 to 1 dilution) and allowed it to sit for 10 minutes, then deep extracted the remaining fluid and put fans on it to speed the drying. Problem solved! Solution: first, clean away the smelly stuff using the deep extraction process. Then get Nok-Out down there where it can come in contact with any remaining stinky stuff.
Whole Carpet Cleaning – DIY
Renting a carpet cleaning machine or using your own. This sometimes-cheaper solution can work, but these little machines don’t really have the powerful vacuum suction needed to accomplish DEEP cleaning. If you have a real problem (like that nurse) then it may be smarter for you to pull back the carpet from the wall, clean under it, spray with Nok-Out or SNiPER thoroughly, put fans on it and allow it to dry before rolling the carpet back down and re-attaching it to the tack strips. You may be able to do this one-half the room at a time without too much pain. If you don’t have deep cleaning capability, then this is a great method to tackle tough urine issues in your carpet on your own.
If your urine issue is not so severe, these rental machines can work well enough to give you a big improvement. Use less detergent than they recommend and clean the carpet. Take special care to rinse away as much as possible and then make several ‘vacuum-only’ passes to remove as much water as possible. While the carpet is still wet, spray Nok-Out on it at a 4 to one dilution. It is much more efficient to spray a wet carpet than a dry one, because when your carpet is wet, the surface tension is broken and Nok-Out can spread across the whole carpet more easily. Put fans on the carpet to speed drying and reduce ‘wicking’.
Regular carpet cleaning can reduce allergens and pollutants in your home. Spraying it with SNiPER Disinfectant/Odor Eliminator immediately after that cleaning can further reduce pathogens and give your home a much improved Indoor Air Quality.
The flu season is upon us – again – and according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “This year’s flu season may be especially severe“. According to the CDC, “This is the first year we had the entire continental U.S. be the same color on the graph. Meaning there’s widespread activity in all of the continental U.S. at this point”. An influenza strain known as H3N2 is the most prevalent this year and the vaccine developed to protect us is “about 30% effective”, the CDC says. For most people, getting the flu is uncomfortable, but little more. Some people however, including those with underlying health conditions, are more vulnerable. The most vulnerable are the elderly, children younger than five (and especially younger than two) as well as residents of nursing homes and longer care facilities. If you are concerned, and want to protect your family against the spread of the flu, here are some precautions you can take to keep your family safe.
1) Get a Vaccination
With only a 30% effectiveness rate, you may think, why bother? But some protection is better than none. And if you do get the flu after getting the vaccination, it is likely that your bout with the flu will be much milder than someone who didn’t get vaccinated at all. This is especially important if you are a member of one of the most vulnerable groups.
There could still be up to 13 weeks of flu season remaining. Be aware that there is often a rise in the prevalence of the ‘B’ strain of influenza later in the season. Getting vaccinated may help protect your family.
2) WASH YOUR HANDS FREQUENTLY!
This is probably the single most important thing you can do. The reason is that we are constantly touching the same places: door knobs, keyboards, money, steering wheel and so on.
You can use SNiPER to wash your hands – it is perfectly safe. Just spray your hand, then ‘air-wash’ them to help spread the spray effectively on both hands. Hold them up to air dry for 1 minute.
If you have the flu:
a) Don’t go to work (or school). You will potentially spread it to others! Stay home for 24 hours after the fever subsides.
b) If you can see a doctor within the first 48 hours, you may be able to take antiviral meds to shorten the length of time you are sick and reduce it’s severity.
c) Cover your mouth and sneeze into a tissue or handkerchief – not into the air!
|Buy a Gallon of SNiPER Disinfectant & Odor Eliminator – $48
3) How can I keep the rest of the family safe if one member gets the flu?
Spray ‘high contact’ areas with SNiPER Hospital Disinfectant. The CDC tells us that “Most people are at peak contagiousness in the three or four days after becoming sick, but you may be able to infect others from a day before to seven days after developing symptoms“. Spraying high contact touch surfaces will reduce the likelihood of spreading contagions. High contact areas could include doorknobs, push plates on swinging doors, light switches, handles, even money! Take a small 4oz bottle of SNiPER to the gym and spray the equipment you use.
Replace your air filters. If they don’t need replacing just yet, spray them with SNiPER to kill trapped germs.
If you have a ‘fogger’ use it to treat many surfaces (and the air) efficiently. See https://blog.nokout.com/to-fog-or-not-to-fog/. If you don’t have a fogger, you may be able to use a common household Vaporizer to treat a room. See https://www.nokout.com/Vaporizer-How-to-use.html. Treating rooms or your home in this way can reduce exposure to other family members, so this makes perfect sense.
4) Use that Humidifier
Recent studies show that it is not so much the cold weather that helps spread the flu, but the relative humidity. According to one expert, “We don’t have the airtight evidence that a humidifier reduces your chance of getting sick, but we know that dryness is bad for you. Low relative humidity can dry out your nasal passages, making you more vulnerable to the flu virus and other bugs.” The ‘sweet spot’ appears to be a relative humidity range of 40% to 60% for overall health. See: https://blog.nokout.com/safe-humidifier-use-eases-the-pain-caused-by-dry-air/
SNiPER is a great tool in your toolbox to fight the influenza virus, and protect your family, because, while there are many disinfectants capable of killing germs, most other disinfectants are highly corrosive, or highly toxic or just plain dangerous. SNiPER has the lowest toxicity rating that the EPA gives in ALL FOUR Categories: inhalation, ingestion, to skin, and to eyes, so it is safe for you, your family and your pets also.
The cold dry air of Winter is a real pain – dry eyes, dry itchy skin, dried-out mucosal membranes in the nose and throat, and so on. When suffering from this ‘winter condition’ many people turn to the use of room humidifiers or vaporizers for relief, and this is a great idea! Safe humidifier use eases the pain caused by the cold air of winter because breathing moist air can soothe the respiratory tract and ease congestion and coughing. But too much moisture can be a negative rather than a positive.
Humidifier as Biological ‘Farm’
Many molds and fungi infestations can exist and perhaps thrive, on humidity they pull from the air. Excessive humidity can also increase growth rates for dust mites, contributing to allergic reactions. And since humidifiers and vaporizers are wet for long periods of time, they can become a little ‘farm’ for the growth of biologicals such molds, mildews, fungi and so on. When a humidifier is allowed to operate as a ‘mold farm’ they can spread spores and other biological elements around a room. Yuck! So let’s look at how to use a humidifier safely.
The key – as with so many things in life – is balance. We need to find the ‘Goldilocks zone’ that is not too humid, and not too dry. Not too humid to prevent runaway growth of biologicals and not too dry to provide relief from that itchy feeling.
Hitting the Goldilocks Zone
A ‘hygrometer’ is a nice little tool to accurately measure the relative humidity. They are available starting at $4 or so (for a cheapie) that might last you through the winter. Between 45 and 55 percent relative humidity will be enough to feel comfortable but not so much as to allow biological growths we prefer to inhibit.
Humidifier / vaporizer maintenance becomes a safety issue if you start using one regularly. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations carefully! If your water has a high mineral content, calcification can build up on furniture, walls or other areas in a room. Use distilled or de-mineralized water to minimize any buildup. Change the internal filters regularly.
As a further deterrent, you can add a bit of SNiPER disinfectant to the reservoir to prevent growth of mold inside your unit. Periodically, add four ounces to a quart of water in your machine. This will be sufficient to keep your machine clean and free of biological growths.
With good cleaning and maintenance, a humidifier or vaporizer can provide comfort and health benefits during the months of cold dry air. Be safe! Keep that machine clean and safe, and it will keep you more comfortable and healthier.
|Buy a Gallon of SNiPER Disinfectant & Odor Eliminator
|Buy a Gallon of Nok-Out Odor Eliminator
There is a great way to treat a room for odors, where you don’t know the exact source. Learn more here: https://www.nokout.com/Vaporizer-How-to-use.html
As part of your normal weekly cleaning, remember that humid air will often condense near windows. Spray a bit of SNiPER there every week to prevent the growth of mold in the little puddles of condensate near those windows.
Living the mold-free life is good for you, good for your family and good for anyone who visits your home.
Now that all the waterlogged homes from Harvey and Irma are drying, there is a real need for products that can kill mold, mildew, and fungus infestations and the spores that accompany all this wetness. But so many of the disinfectants out there are highly toxic and are a real danger to your health. What to do? Why choose SNiPER?
There are 6 great reasons why choosing SNiPER is a good decision for you and your family.
- High degree of efficacy. Many cleansers can kill mold, but not that many can also kill the spores. SNiPER kills the spores too!
- Very low toxicity. The EPA rates all disinfectants and assigns them a score in each of 4 categories of toxicity: Toxic to skin, toxic to eyes, toxicity if inhaled and toxicity if ingested (eaten or drank). SNiPER receives the lowest toxicity rating that the EPA hands out in ALL FOUR categories. You can apply SNiPER without needing to wear gear to protect you from the disinfectant.
- Non-corrosive product. Because of its non-corrosive nature, you can put SNiPER into your favorite fogger to make application a breeze! Quick and easy application is the third big reason to use SNiPER for any kind of disinfection. It also means you can apply SNiPER and walk away – you don’t need to come back later and wipe toxic residues away.
- Ease of application. SNiPER can be applied using a hand pump sprayer, a pump-up garden style sprayer, a fogger (either ULV or electrostatic). You will not need to wear special gear to apply this product.
- Hypo-allergenic. SNiPER is unlikely to trigger any allergic response from people suffering from asthma or other allergies.
- Many odors are associated with mold, mildew and the like. SNiPER will eliminate odors at the same time it disinfects.
|Buy a Gallon of SNiPER Disinfectant & Odor Eliminator
SNiPER is a Proven Solution for your Disinfection needs
Taken together, it is easy to see why SNiPER is considered to be among the top products to use against biological infestations resulting from prolonged wetness. It is strong enough to stop these biological problems dead in their tracks, but it does not contribute to a toxic household. In our formulation, SNiPER can kill the mold and the spores safely, without endangering your home with toxic cleansers. You can breathe easy!
How to Use SNiPER to Kill Mold
Disaster! Your home has been flooded! Two feet deep. And all that water came with a LOT of mud and muck that has started to stink. What to do? How can SNiPER or Nok-Out help with flood recovery? Restoring a home that has been flooded is an immense amount of work that is complicated by the sludge left behind because that sludge is likely to have everything from toxic chemicals to overflow from sewage ponds in it. Given that you must dry everything within 48 hours to stop the growth of mold, mildew and fungal infestations, you have a powerful need for a disinfecting odor eliminator to help you restore your home, your car, your offices. This is a perfect use for SNiPER, because with this one product, you can both disinfect and deodorize as part of flood recovery.
You need to disinfect not only for the nasty pathogens that may come from the sewage ponds, but also because natures little recyclers (mold, mildew, fungus) will begin growing within 48 hours if you cannot dry it out. Some – not all! – but some of those molds are actually quite toxic and you really don’t want that stuff adding to the problems.
Many stinks in the world are of biological origin. A good example is sweat. Our perspiration is not smelly, until bacteria living in our skin start eating it. Their excrement is what stinks – not your feet! So killing or holding down the growth of biologicals can help keep horrible odors at bay. As both a disinfectant and odor eliminator, SNiPER is perfect for flood relief, and home restoration.
How can SNiPER help my flooded home?
After you have pumped out the water, after the carpet and the upholstered furniture has all been thrown out to the curb, after the baseboards have been removed and holes poked in the drywall to allow trapped water to escape, it may well still be damp. But you can already begin spraying SNiPER even if it IS still a bit damp. Lightly spraying those damp areas that have stayed wet for 48 hours will slow the growth of biologicals and is an important part of flood recovery. It will not prevent the growth, but it can slow it down until your home has dried out further. The only thing that will stop the growth is for the area to be dry and SNiPER can retard growth enough to help prevent the entire structure being eaten by mold.
If mold has already started growing visibly, spray directly on it. (Be safe! Wear an N-95 mask, gloves and eye protection. If you start feeling ill or woozy, stop, go outside and breathe fresh air, before deciding if you can continue.) Use a soft scrub pad from the kitchen and try to scrub the crud loose, wipe it away, spray one more time and then you can walk away, leaving it to air dry naturally. If possible, use a ‘fogger’ for maximum efficiency in spraying. See below for links to many of our ‘how-to‘ articles on controlling mold.
|Buy a Gallon of SNiPER Disinfectant & Odor Eliminator
Why can’t I just use bleach?
Bleach doesn’t kill mold. Let me say this one more time – bleach does not kill mold. It will weaken the growth and it will make it change color, but bleach does not kill mold or the spores. SNiPER kills both – safely.
What about my furniture?
That overstuffed sofa that you like so much is likely to take several days to dry in the best of conditions. It is highly likely that mold will begin growing deep inside the stuffing where you cannot see it. Given the difficulty of drying and then removing the odor from that sludge, it is unlikely that sofa will ever be usable again. It is possible that you could clean it up, but given the demands on your time and the difficulty associated with cleaning it up, you will have to decide if it is worth trying to save it. It will certainly be a long row to hoe if you want to save it!
What about clothing? Can SNiPER save my clothes?
Yes – SNiPER or Nok-Out can be added to loads of laundry and if there is visible mold present, SNiPER will kill it. See https://www.nokout.com/Laundry-Odors.html for instructions.
“My home is mostly dry, but still damp in some places. I know mold is growing because I can smell it. Should I worry about the spores in the air?”
Yes – you should worry! Breathing in mold spores is not a good idea. Spraying the air with SNiPER will kill the spores. A professional would use a fogger to spray the air, because this machine can create droplet sizes that are small enough to float around on the breeze. Wonderful machines, but expensive. A slower alternative is to use a common household vaporizer or a room humidifier. These can do the same thing but are very slow. We have a good article for you here.
I have a 2500 ft2 house. How much SNiPER do I need?
A very good question. And, one that is not easy to answer because it depends on so many things, such as ‘how much do you spray’?, ‘should I spray more here’? ‘am I spraying enough? or not enough’? and so on. We think that you will need around 1.5 gallons to make it around the house once spraying economically. But you may find that you need more than that.
In general, spray enough that the area becomes wet, but not so much that it runs down the wall as if you had sprayed too much paint. Do not wipe it away, instead, allow it to air dry. SNiPER is non-corrosive and will not damage the sprayed surfaces.
A very important consideration is the bacteria that come up out of sewers during a ‘big flooding’ event. Wherever that nasty water went – it carried those bacteria with it. These bacteria can easily pass to you if you touch something wet and then later, touch your mouth. Stop this mode of transmission by spraying interior surfaces with SNiPER.
Wear the mask (N-95) to avoid the possibility of breathing in spores and other muck. If you begin to feel ill – stop! Go outside and recover. Consider hiring a pro to do this for you. Here are symptoms to watch out for:
- rashes or hives
- eye irritation
- nasal passage/sinus congestion or irritation
- difficulty breathing
Keep children away from standing water and mud, which is often contaminated with toxic chemicals and sewage. Pay attention to dangerous debris such as boards with protruding nails. Unplug all electronics and electrical devices. Make sure that gas is shut off. Avoid drinking tap water until you are sure it is drinkable again.
Some of our ‘How-to’ mold articles