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Safe at Home: Understanding Disinfectants

Just because a surface looks clean, that's no guarantee that it doesn't harbor germs, warns Nancy Bock, Vice President of Consumer Education at the American Cleaning Institute®. Regular cleaning products do a good job of removing soil, but only disinfectants or disinfectant cleaners (also known as antibacterial cleaners) kill the germs that can cause many illnesses.

Household disinfectants and antibacterial household cleaning products are formulated to kill a wide variety of microorganisms that can live on inanimate surfaces, such as the bacteria Salmonella and E. coli, which cause intestinal illness, and Staphylococcus, which causes skin infections. The specific organisms a product kills depends on its active ingredients, specific formulation and use instructions.

Products that claim to kill germs must meet efficacy requirients and guidelines established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and must be registered with EPA and carry an EPA registration number on their label. Read and follow label directions at all times. Disinfectants and disinfectant cleaners are the only products that kill germs—but they only work if the label directions are followed.

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