Germ Defense Pyramid (FN1349, Reviewed April 2020)

This publication provides timetables and solution recommendations for cleaning and disinfecting your home.

Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D. Food and Nutrition Specialist

Availability: Web only

Bleach-based cleaning routine kills 99.9% of household germs.

Once a Week

  •  toilet surface and bowl
  •  shower/tub and drain
  •  kitchen and bathroom
  •  bathroom countertops

Tip: Save time with bleach-based products that clean and disinfect in one step

Three times a Week

  •  faucets, appliance handles
  •  kitchen countertops and appliances
  •  toilet flush handle

Tip: Focus on “high touch” zones


  •  sponges/dishcloths
  •  kitchen sink and drain
  •  spot clean after spills

Tip: Fill sink with 1 gallon of water and ¾ cup bleach. Soak sponges, then rinse to attack three problem areas in one easy step

Recommended cleaning and disinfecting routing that significantly reduces germs on surfaces.


  •  Bleach-based cleaners kill bacteria in the most germ-contaminated sites, including sponges, dishcloths, kitchen and bathroom sinks and the kitchen sink drain area.
  •  Use bleach-based spray or a solution of bleach and water on cutting boards after every use to kill harmful bacteria like E. coli and Salmonella.
  •  Clean up spills on kitchen countertops and floors as they occur and disinfect with a bleach-based cleaner.

Three times a week

  •  Spot clean and disinfect “high touch” zones like kitchen and bathroom faucets, faucet handles, kitchen countertops and appliances.
  •  High traffic areas on kitchen and bathroom floors require a bleach-based cleaner, which takes only 30 seconds of contact time to disinfect.
  •  Help break the cycle of germ recontamination by disinfecting toilet flush handles and kitchen appliance handles.


  •  Deep clean and disinfect toilet bowls and surfaces, bathroom countertops, showers, tubs and drain areas.
  •  Floors in the bathroom and kitchen should be cleaned and disinfected with a bleach-base cleaner.
  •  Deep clean the toilet bowl and surfaces, then drop a bowl cleaner tablet in the tank. One tablet kills 99.9 percent of germs in the bowl water with every flush.

Adapted/reprinted with permission from the Clorox Company Source: Dr. Charles Gerba, Ph.D, University of Arizona.

Make Your Own Sanitizing Solution

More isn’t better when it comes to sanitizing solutions. The following are safe and effective proportions for making sanitizing solutions for countertops, cutting boards, dishes, utensils and other surfaces.

  •  1 tablespoon chlorine bleach per gallon water OR a scant 1 teaspoon chlorine bleach per quart water OR ¼ teaspoon chlorine bleach per cup water.
  •  Don’t use hot water or your solution will lose effectiveness. A water temperature less than 115°F is best.
  •  Also remember that chlorine sanitizing solutions lose their strength over time.

For example, spray-on sanitizers should be remade at least daily or whenever you need them. 

Filed under: home, human-health, home-safety
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