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Choosing Cleaning Products

Submitted by Lorene Bartos, UNL Extension Educator

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How does one keep family and friends from spreading germs around the home? Frequent cleaning is the key to combating germs during the cold and flu season or anytime of the year. It is important to develop a regular cleaning routine and choose the proper products to help reduce the spread of infectious diseases.

There are many products available to help keep the home clean and healthy. Each product is designed for a specific task. Choosing the right product for the job can be a challenge. The label is the secret to finding the right products for the job. The following will help decide which products to use.

Bathroom cleaners: Developed as sink, tile and tub cleaners. Many of these products disinfect as well as clean — check the label!

Cleansers: Abrasive cleaners loosen soil. Some cleansers contain bleach and some also disinfect — check the label.

Disinfectants: The only cleaning products that kill virtually all the indicated germs. “Disinfectant” on the label means the product has met government specifications. Look for an EPA registration number on the label to be sure it has met all government requirements for effectiveness. You must follow the product label instructions exactly for the disinfectant to actually kill germs.

* Chlorine bleach — Disinfects when mixed and used properly. Read the label for instructions.

* Disinfectant cleaners — Contain ingredients to help remove soil as well as kill germs.

* Disinfectants — kills germs if surfaces are free from visible soil.

* Glass cleaners: Developed to loosen and dissolve soils found on glass.

* Multi-purpose cleaners: Remove visible soil. Use for everyday spills and soil.

* Toilet bowl cleaners: For cleaning the inside of the toilet only. Many of these products disinfect as well as clean – check the label.

NEVER mix chlorine bleach or any product containing chlorine bleach with ammonia or any ammonia-containing compounds (e.g, some hand dishwashing detergents or window cleaner) or acidic products (e.g. toilet bowl cleaners or rust removers) — dangerous gases can be released.

Always store cleaning products in their original container and out of the reach of children. Remember to read and follow label directions.


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(This resource was updated May 19, 2008 and appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star Newspaper Sunday edition. For information on reproducing this article or using any photographs or graphics, read the Terms of Use statement)

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