Pandemic Disinfecting Tips

In this time of a pandemic, the phrase “clean & disinfect” has never had more weight. Even with the understanding that COVID is an air born virus – disinfecting commonly used areas has become a reflex. Remember, soap and water first! Surfaces must be clean before they can be disinfected because dirt, grease, and grime interfere with the sanitizing process. Now, let’s understand the disinfecting powers of our go-to products doing battle with coronavirus. 


As I have posted in the past, medical settings are the only place where bleach is appropriate – in normal times. But these are not “normal” times, so bleach is being applied liberally across the board. If it’s germs and bacteria you’re worried about, chlorine bleach products are 99.9% effective – qualifying as an overachiever in the disinfectant category. And at this time, that’s what we are after. As a rule, I don’t promote the household use of bleach due to the chemical chlorine. In general, most germs and bacteria can be eradicated with soap, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, lemon, and sunlight. Chlorine is corrosive, so it’s important to wear gloves and be careful not to breath it in directly. Protect your eyes and mouth when working with bleach and guard against contact with your skin by wearing gloves. Follow CDC’s guidelines of 1/3 cup of bleach per gallon, or 4 teaspoons per quart of water.

And this is important!! – mixing undiluted bleach with other household cleaners such as toilet cleaners or ammonia is an absolute DON’T – because the mixture produces dangerous chemicals that become airborne. Keep in mind, mustard gas (a chemical used in warfare) is a mixture of chlorine and detergent.


If you can’t, or don’t want to get your hands on bleach – rubbing alcohol is a good option. Ethyl or Isopropyl alcohol essentially have the same disinfecting qualities. The CDC is recommending 70% alcohol to be effective against the coronavirus strain. However, they do state that “If soap and water are not available and hands are not visibly dirty, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol may be used.” Hand sanitizer is a good option when you cannot physically wash your hands with soap and water. 

Make your own hand sanitizer:

2/3 rubbing alcohol (at least 60% alcohol) to 1/3 aloe vera gel (commercial aloe gel for stabilizing properties – not fresh aloe)

* if you are having difficulty finding rubbing alcohol, alcohol of at least 140 proof can work in a pinch (70% alcohol or higher). This is tricky since your average vodka is 80 proof. Everclear for example is 190 proof. Check with your local liquor store for high proof options.

Anti-bacterial Soaps

Antibacterial soaps may kill some bacteria, but regular soap kills the same bacteria plus cold and flu viruses – which antibacterial soaps cannot claim. This is why the CDC advises washing hands with regular soap as being the first line of defense against germs and bacteria. Antibacterial products are linked to antibiotic resistance which can result in the promotion of super-bugs. Antibacterial soaps also are allowed by the FDA to contain triclosan which research has shown to be an endocrine disrupter. 


Hydrogen Peroxide

An effective antibacterial tool, but in these times of coronavirus you must be mindful of the time a 3% hydrogen peroxide treatment takes to work. If used in tandem with distilled white vinegar, (or rubbing alcohol, as in a disinfecting spray, see below) the combination can pack a punch. The trick is to layer them separately. First wipe the surface with vinegar and let sit until dry. Then repeat with hydrogen peroxide. 10 to 20 mins of drying time is called for. For those striving for a chemical free home, this process at night before going to bed can offer a clean slate in the morning and may ease some anxiety.

Daily H2O2 Disinfecting Spray

¼ cup hydrogen peroxide

¼ cup rubbing alcohol

1 or 2 drops liquid (biodegradable) dish soap

2 cups water (1 cup for a stronger solution)

2 teaspoons dishwasher rinse – for glass surfaces (optional)


Vinegar has shown to be effective against some bacteria and viruses – the common flu among them. But vinegar should not be relied on as a sole weapon against coronavirus. After a good scrubbing with soap and water – a vinegar layer is certainly not going to hurt – especially when combined with another layer of 3% hydrogen peroxide. 

Read the Fine Print!

No matter what we use, most of us spray and wipe – then immediately dry. WRONG! It turns out that nearly ALL disinfectants are required to sit wet on a surface for a period of time to be effective. Whatever you are using, read the instructions on the back. Lysol & Clorox disinfecting products advise wait times from 2 min (Clorox Hard Surface Disinfecting Spray) to 10 min (Lysol’s Disinfecting Spray) – 3 min normally, but 10 min to kill Norovirus. The point is, allowing the product to air dry is imperative for efficacy. This goes for your hands as well when using wipes. Don’t immediately dry, rather let them air dry. Alcohol drys very quickly, so you won’t be waiting long.


Go Tree Free

With constant sanitizing, you may be using more paper products these days, so as always, it’s important to buy 100% recycled, post consumer waste napkins, paper towels, tissues, and toilet paper wherever you can find them. Boycott virgin fiber products. Our planet depends on it.

About the Author

Here at Jenny Green Jeans, by sharing success stories and easy-to- implement tips, I hope to inspire and empower you to continue to make sustainable choices in your life and watch how far the impact goes. Please contact me with any questions or suggestions you may have. Also visit the Green Design Goods store for my favorite environmentally sustainable products.

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