Happy cold and flu season, y'all! My house has already been hit with norovirus and we're a week into our second round of seasonal colds. I'm this close to bringing a bottle of Lysol with me when we have to venture outside the house. To put it plainly - I don't trust that anyone is properly detail-cleaning anything in public spaces. Maybe they might wipe down a shopping cart once a week, but are they properly disinfecting it? And why is it important to disinfect - and not just sanitize, or clean? Simply put, cleaning just gets the visible grime off of an item. Sanitizing drastically reduces germs. But disinfecting? It's the holy grail - disinfecting means that viruses and bacteria are 99.9% dead and gone. Our babies need us to disinfect their toys - and every shopping cart handle - because they have crappy immune systems.
I might be a bit of a clean freak when it comes to my kids. More accurately, I try my best to keep germs away from my kids when they're "going around". Contagious illnesses are not a laughing matter, but it's not just about me! No, I don't have time for my kids to get sick - but I also don't want to deal with the guilt of getting someone else sick in addition!
When I consider a disinfectant to use during cold and flu season, I look for a few different factors. First I check the label - it must say that it kills 99.9% of bacteria and viruses. If it doesn't say disinfectant or "kills 99.9%", it's not going to keep colds or the flu at bay. Second, I read the directions. Some disinfectants need to saturate an object for up to ten full minutes! I don't have time for a cold, but I also don't have time to babysit a doorknob for ten minutes until it is safe for my kid to touch. And finally, I check for kid-friendly usage. Do I need to rinse this product before my kid can touch or lick the thing I used it on?
Before I get into my favorite disinfectants, I'd like to point out a few things that aren't up to muster this time of year. Yes, I'm addicted to Mrs. Meyer's All-Purpose Spray (Iowa Pine is THE BEST SCENT EVER). But read the label! It's great for cleaning, but not designed to kill the flu virus. The following things are NOT a disinfectant and won't stop illnesses from spreading in your home. Not my opinion - this is scientific fact.
- All-Purpose Sprays
- Norwex Cloths (no type of cloth can disinfect)
- Essential Oils
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Store-Bought Hydrogen Peroxide
- Disinfectant Wipes - I'll make a concession here. Technically these will disinfect but only if you keep the surface wet for ten minutes. So, keep wiping things down for ten minutes, and the wipes will work. (But no one uses them that way, do they?)
So what should you be using instead? These are my top five kid-safe disinfectants. Yes, I have five - and I broke them down by my three criteria for you!
- It's designed to clean CPAP machines and is lab-tested to kill 99.9% of viruses, bacteria, mold, and fungi. LOVE that it also kills mold!
- This spray needs to sit for ten minutes to disinfect, but since it's a spray (and not a wipe), it's pretty easy.
- No rinsing! Once it's done working to disinfect, it neutralizes into salt water.
Force of Nature
- This is EPA and third-party tested to kill 99.9% of germs. It's approved for use in hospitals and medical facilities, too!
- Force Of Nature must sit for ten minutes to disinfect, and can be removed by wiping or allowed to air dry.
- Apparently, you'd have to drink a whole liter of this stuff for it to harm you! It's just electrolyzed water, salt, and vinegar from their proprietary capsules.
- The gold standard of germ-killing. My doctor's office called me to tell me my kid's poop was positive for norovirus and I should use "bleach-based cleaners". What they meant is, "Pull out the big guns."
- Diluted bleach is easy to make - to disinfect, add one-half cup of bleach to one gallon of water. Let stand five minutes. Rinse well.
- DEFINITELY rinse diluted bleach! Because bleach is so effective, it's worth the peace of mind to do a bit more work to keep it safe for the kids. Even better - you can use it to sanitize (two tsp per one gallon of water) dishes, silverware, cups, etc. - and don't have to rinse afterward!
- Yes, this crunchy-mama-friendly brand makes a real disinfectant! Says so right on the label. It's made with a component of thyme oil, actually!
- Wet the surface and leave for ten minutes - no rinsing or wiping necessary!
- This stuff is even safe to use on food surfaces! As long as it's dry, your kids are safe to play with those disinfected toys.
Purell Multi-Surface Disinfectant
- Oh heck yeah this bad boy disinfects! It destroys all germs in its path.
- This is why I love this stuff, to be honest. I have NEVER seen a disinfectant that works so quickly - kills cold and flu viruses in THIRTY SECONDS and staph in just one minute! WOW!
- Safe for kids, pets, and food surfaces. This stuff is the bee's knees! And the fragrance-free option really IS fragrance-free!
A Note On Disinfecting Baby Toys
Babies are notorious for putting everything in their mouths. It's how they learn and explore their world! Since we can't stop them from mouthing them, it's important that we keep their toys extra clean - especially if anyone has been sick in your home. I've picked up a few tricks to make this easier! Spread out a bedsheet on the floor and dump out the toys in question. Sort them into hard and soft - "soft" meaning fabric toys. Hard toys can be sprayed down with any of the disinfectants above - make sure to turn them so you get all sides, nooks, and crannies! Soft toys can almost always be washed in your machine - use 1/2 cup of bleach or Lysol Laundry Sanitizer to knock down any germs. Spraying them down with a disinfectant won't work by itself as it will only impact the top layer of fibers, so be sure to wash!
Which of these are your favorite disinfectants? (Wow, that question makes me feel really adult!) Mine is Purell, hands-down! Tell me yours on Twitter @pi3sugarpi3 with #KidFriendlyDisinfectant.