FAQs About Cleaning and Disinfecting Household Surfaces
Q. What is the difference between a disinfectant and a disinfectant cleaner or antibacterial cleaner?
A. Disinfectants contain antimicrobial ingredients that kill germs if surfaces are free from heavy soil. Disinfectant or antibacterial cleaners contain ingredients for removing soil, as well as antimicrobial ingredients that kill germs. Household bleach disinfects when used according to label directions.
Q. What antimicrobial ingredients are used in household cleaning products that kill germs?
A. Common antimicrobial ingredients include pine oil, quaternary ammonium compounds, sodium hypochlorite, phenols and ethanol.
Q. What microorganisms do disinfectants or antibacterial cleaners kill on household surfaces?
A. Depending on the active ingredient(s) and the product formulation, they kill bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli, which cause intestinal illness, and Staphylococcus which causes skin infections; fungus that causes athlete's foot; and viruses such as Herpes simplex, Rhinovirus, which is the leading cause of the common cold; and Rotavirus, the major cause of diarrhea in young children. Read the label to find out specifically which germs the product is intended to kill.
Q. How can I tell if a household cleaning product kills germs?
A. Look for the words "disinfect," "disinfectant," "antibacterial" or "sanitize" on the label, as well as an EPA registration number, as this ensures that the product has met EPA requirements for killing germs.
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