Keeping your home clean doesn't require weapons of mass disinfection, experts tell WebMD. Antibacterial and harsh cleansers are usually unnecessary, and some raise concerns about our health and the environment.
These products don't work any better than their natural or non-toxic counterparts, and they damage the environment and potentially place our long-term health at risk.
"The antibacterial soap we buy in the store doesn't clean hands or reduce the spread of illness any better than regular soap," says Allison Aiello, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan.
You can keep your home just as clean for much less money, safeguard your personal health, and even protect the environment by going back to the basics.
Chlorine Bleach: What Are the Alternatives?
Chlorine bleach is one of the oldest cleaners. It's also one of the harshest. Chlorine bleach kills germs on contact, and isn't much friendlier to your skin, if accidentally splashed. Manufacturers include chlorine bleach in a wide variety of cleaning products as well as some laundry and dishwasher detergents.
Bleach is also renowned for its mold-killing ability, but it's not the only way to kill mold and mildew. Hydrogen peroxide or vinegar also works to kill mold.
Because it's used so frequently, chlorine bleach is the most common cleaner that kids accidentally swallow. And chlorine poses another special danger: when mixed with ammonia -- another common ingredient of cleaning products -- and acidic cleaners, such as toilet bowl cleaners, the mixture releases poisonous gasses. Since it's hard to know what's in every product, it's best to simply not mix cleaning products at all. While it's safe to pour old cleaning products down the drain, don't pour more than one at a time.
Use a hydrogen-peroxide-based bleach in your laundry instead of chlorine bleach. Hydrogen peroxide kills mold and mildew, sanitizes counters and cutting boards, and removes stains from counters.
For household cleaning, opt for chlorine-free products to eliminate the risks. Specifically look for "chlorine-free" on the label. Use one product at a time, and rinse surfaces thoroughly.
A simple tip: Keep an old toothbrush to scrub counter and those hard-to-clean tile corners.