Dear Cleaning Inclined Readers,
I'm not one to whip out the antibacterial hand gel every time I see a door knob or a gas pump, an ATM, a
public restroom, one of those self-checkout machines at the grocery store, the buttons on an elevator, library books, when somebody hands me their cell phone to look at a picture, dentist chairs, hockey rinks and slots machines. I don't EVEN use the cart wipes at Target! I swear!
I'm the first one to admit that we all need to "eat a little dirt in our lifetime," you know, to build up those immunities. I know that using anti-bac with joyful abandon is a big no-no. Even though I love to joke around about being a germ-a-phobe sometimes (which HELLO, I AM a total germ-a-phobe), I also firmly believe that exposure to germs actually helps to make our bodies stronger!
So you usually won't find me "disinfecting" everything in the house on a regular basis. I clean of course, but my daily cleaners are not also antibacterial/antiviral. That is unless................ IT'S A PARTICULARLY BAD FLU SEASON!!!! Friends, I have to admit, I've changed my ways, at least for a couple of months, now that we know this year's strain of H1N1 is quite a strong one.
It used to be that I'd simply wash my hands when coming home from pushing carts at the grocery store or Target. Once in a while I'd gently clean my cell phone, things like that. But as flu season continues on and I'm out in public often, with Jon at an office and Noah in a petri dish - AKA- "elementary school," I've decided to become a bit more proactive against the germies, at least through February. There's no guarantee that you'll be able to stay away from the flu, but taking easy precautions helps. Hey you! Stop touching your eye!
The most popular products one could use are the antibacterial hand gels and soaps and household cleaning products like Clorox wipes. The jury is still out as to whether some of the newer products with the bacteria fighting chemical triclosan even work, but more worrisome, many scientist believe that usage of triclosan might not even be safe! Read what the FDA now has to say about some potentially harmful ingredients in antibacterial soap! In addition, even when you find triclosan free products, they may still contain a plethora of other harsh and unhealthy chemicals.
I should tell you before I go on, in the past month or so, before I found out about making my own cleanser, I did purchase Seventh Generation's Disinfecting wipes.
I trust Seventh Generation and their products to avoid harmful chemicals and use mostly botanicals. The wipes kill bacteria and viruses using thymol as their main ingredient. Thymol is a component of thyme oil. The product smells just like thyme! I like the wipes a lot, but I also enjoy the idea of having a DIY alternative, and one with only two ingredients!
I want to share just one more informative link to a Salon article titled: "5 Reasons to Stop Using Antibacterial Soap." I think reason #2, that there is a potential to create antibiotic-resistant bacteria, is one to note! This is why I only recommend that you use the following homemade cleaners sparingly, not all over the house, all year long. It's still fantastic, but just don't go crazy! ;)
Without further ado, may I please introduce to you my new favorite, TWO ingredient, DIY antibacterial/antiviral/antigermy cleanser!
Now I most certainly cannot take any credit for this one. I'm just relaying the information that I've learned form one of my most favorite cleaning gurus, Melissa Maker of Clean My Space. She introduced me to the idea of making a DIY disinfectant cleaning spray from water and isopropyl alcohol, also called "rubbing alcohol."
A few words of caution first.....one, isopropyl is flammable! So, never use it near an open flame or heat source, and Melissa goes even further and warns not to use this spray on things like oven, stoves and toasters. (HERE is her original post.) Listen to her, ok! I want you guys to be safe! Also, rubbing alcohol gives off fumes, strong ones. Use this in a well ventilated area. Please be careful, like with any cleaning product, to never spray it near your face, or anyone's face for that matter. This product works amazingly on hard surfaces like stainless steel, chrome, mirrors and sinks to name a few. Melissa even says that it cleans microfiber like a dream! I would just like to warn you, that I have no idea if isopropyl alcohol is safe for other, possibly more delicate surfaces like porous granite and marble countertops and fabrics other than microfiber. My personal rule of thumb - when in doubt, LOOK IT UP FIRST, just to be safe! And oh gosh, NEVER, EVER, EVER DRINK IT! Never. That would be dangerous. This is NOT the drinking kind of alcohol, OK!
Ok, with all of that out of the way, let me tell you how to make this disinfectant spray for just a few dollars and in one minute flat! First, gather up your supplies - water, rubbing alcohol and an empty spray bottle. You can use any kind of spray bottle that you want. I've reused the bottles of store bought cleaners after washing them out well. This time, I purchased one at Target. I feel like you can find smaller versions and less expensive versions of spray bottles out there too. Look in the travel size sample section of your local drugstore or at the dollar store!
My rubbing alcohol simply came from Target's first aid area. I believe that I paid about $1.34 for 20 ounces. For just a bit more, you could buy an even larger bottle. I have to say though, I think my 20 ounces will last a long, long time. So, essentially, if you reuse an old spray bottle you could make a cleaning spray that will last quite some time for just a $1.34!
Use one part tap water to one part isopropyl alcohol. Pour both into your bottle and you're good to go! I use my spray with the washable cleaning cloths that you see rolled up in the blue carton. Both the cloths and box were cheap purchases at Target. Easy and good for the earth!
The first thing that I noticed after using it is how shiny it made my chrome faucet. Wow! It also cleaned up any stainless steel that I had in my kitchen perfectly. I tried it out on our mirrors, and just like Melissa's post suggested, the rubbing alcohol cut right though any dried beauty products like hair spray and little specs of mascara from opening up the tube, like a charm. It left my mirrors completely streak free too!
The other reason I love this spray is for the disinfecting without a bunch of unpronounceable chemicals. Instead it just uses one unpronounceable chemical. Here is what I recommend cleaning during flu season with a bit of spray and a cloth ......
1.) Door handles or knobs that get the most traffic. I really just focus on the side door that we use all of the time. The bathrooms, a few key drawer pulls where I'm always coming home and grabbing them to put away my keys. The handles on the fridge.
2.) Faucets and hand soap. I believe that good old-fashion soap and water work best for our hands. I have though, been regularly remembering to do a quick clean of the kitchen and bathroom faucets and their knobs. Also, since I grab the hand soap to clean my hands each time I come home from running errands, I actually, occasionally clean the hand soap bottles! It kind of makes sense.... We use refillable bottles, so they stick around for a long time. It can't hurt to clean the place you go first, with dirty hands.
3.) House phones and computer. The only other house related items that I really focus on disinfecting during cold & flu season is our house phones and my laptop computer. (Please be careful! Don't get moisture into your computer)! On the off chance that I forget to wash my hands, or I rush in and grab the phone, it's a good idea to clean these too.
4.) And here's my FAVORITE usage for this DIY spray - disinfect your car keys and cell phone!
Think about it, other than the shopping cart, what do you touch most? I don't know about you, but my car keys with this little key chain cards on them and my cell phone. Maybe the key thing is a bit overboard, but why not clean them when it takes less than five seconds. Your cell phone should be cleaned periodically anyway, even when the flu isn't going around. I spray my keys directly and then leave them out to dry. I have an electronic key fob and it hasn't broken yet, but now Jon is warning me that maybe I should spray the cloth instead of the key fob. With my cell phone (and computer too), I want to be careful not to get moisture into them - hence risking the chance of breaking them! Melissa says that this cleanser is ideal for electronics because alcohol dries so quickly. I agree, but be sure not to use the spray directly onto the electronics. Use a cloth so that you can control how wet your phones and computers become. Carefully avoiding any plug-in areas, holes, or seams, I clean the outside of my phone and leave it to air dry. (The Seventh Generation wipes say for disinfecting, clean product and leave to dry for 10 minutes. So I have deduced that the disinfectant has to sit on your item to work properly).
(Update! Update! STOP and read before cleaning your iPhone or iPad! A dear friend of mine just told me that many of the Apple products and others, have a special oleophobic coating on them that repels oils. Using anything more than water when cleaning can break down this coating. So it is not recommended that you use this water and alcohol solution. It's fine for things like keyboards, but not so much the screens. I didn't know this, and have been using cleaners on my iPhone for two years now. I haven't noticed a difference, but I might have just been lucky. Please if you decide to use the spray, use at your own risk! HERE is a great article on how to safely clean your phone.)
Want to know a little tip for WHERE to leave your phones and keys to air dry? Ok, I came up with what I think is the perfect OCD germ-a-phob drying rack, but first, JUST BE SURE THAT YOUR STOVE IS OFF!!!! Ok, so you spray down your keys or clean your cell phone, but now where to set them to dry? If you leave them on a counter, they'll just stay wet on the bottom and might even damage your counter! So instead, try your stove top when it's OFF!!! I set mine in the grates. That way, air is all around them, letting the items dry, but.....BUT.....then, later, AFTER you remove your keys and phone......when you cook dinner, the heat from your stove will kill any germs that might have been transferred to them from your pre disinfected keys or phone! I'm guessing. GENIUS!!!!!!
Ok, I know there is only a slim to little chance that your phone could have given your stove germs, HA! But still, the grates make for an awesome drying rack.
And with this I'll leave you with a fun, informative video on how to make and use this spray. It was done by Melissa, and she gives several more usage ideas, like being a great tool to keep frost at bay from your car windows. Cool, huh!? So enjoy!
Until next time, stay warm and germ-free! :)