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Bleach, Hand Sanitizer, or Natural Cleaning Products? What to Use When


There's always a ferocious debate among people who swear by bleach, hand sanitizer, or natural cleaning products. But the fact is, there's no black and white answer. There are times and places for each of these.

Staying clean is a critical part of staying healthy. We have a wide array of disinfectants and cleaning products to stock up on. This guide takes the most common disinfectants, breaks down their pros and cons, and sorts out how and when to use each item.

Staying clean becomes even more important when access to medical care is not guaranteed, such as during or post-disaster. Therefore, we need to know to know how to remove pathogens from surfaces and fabrics.

Cleanliness Is Not Optional

Good hygiene and good household cleaning habits are essential to good health. While exposure to certain bacteria is good for us, even necessary for good health, there are also harmful microorganisms that can make use very sick. Some of them can live a surprisingly long time outside of the body.

For example:

MRSA is frequently spread via unwashed hands and bed linens.

Salmonella can live on surfaces for up to four weeks.

E. coli was shown to survive for a month on most metal surfaces.

While we always knew that Influenza was spread by coughing and sneezing, it has now been shown to be spread simply by breathing. Influenza can live for several hours airborne and 48 hours on hard surfaces.

Hepatitis can live anywhere from 4 days to several months outside the body, depending on the type.

One of the scariest viruses, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) doesn't live or reproduce outside the human body. However, given the right conditions, HIV can survive outside of the body in blood droplets up to several weeks, though no cases have ever been linked to exposure to blood spills.