NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Cleaning to Avoid a Cold

Cleaning to Avoid a Cold


            Multiple studies have shown that frequent handwashing is key to preventing the spread of microorganisms/germs that cause many common illnesses. And regular cleaning of surfaces in the home removes dirt and food particles on which germs can grow.


            Some Facts about Germs and Disease:

            - Germs are most often spread by hands through person-to-person contact.

            - Germs can enter our bodies through the mouth, nose, eyes and breaks in the skin without our even knowing we've been infected.

            - Poor personal hygiene by food handlers is the second leading cause of foodborne illness.

            - Americans spend about $5 billion each year on their colds - about $3 billion on doctors' visits and $2 billion on treatments.

            - An estimated 60 million days of school and 50 million days of work are lost annually because of the common cold.

            - Some 5.5 million visits to doctors' offices each year are due to skin infections.

            - Germs can be transferred from inanimate surfaces to hands and vice-versa.

            - Some germs can live on dry surfaces (such as toys) for several hours and moist surfaces (like bathroom sinks) for up to three days.

            - Salmonella can survive freezing and can survive on dry surfaces for at least 24 hours.

            - The average kitchen dishcloth can contain 4 billion living germs.


            Household cleaning products intended to kill germs on inanimate surfaces have working on their labels that include words such as “disinfect, kill bacteria or sanitize” Depending on their active ingredients(s) and specific formulation, these products may kill a wide variety of microorganisms that can live on household surfaces, such as foodborne bacteria like Salmonella; the cold virus and fungus that causes athlete’s foot. Household cleaning products designed to kill germs on surfaces have been available for more than 100years. They are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

            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. Common antimicrobial ingredients used in household cleaning products to kill germs include pine oil, quaternary ammonium compounds, sodium hypochlorite, phenols and ethanol.
How to tell if a household cleaning product kills germs?   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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