Take this simple quiz to dispel any myths you may have about where germs are found in the bathroom. Then follow these easy directions for making your own green bathroom sanitizing kit using ingredients most of us have in our cupboards. With this kit you will effectively clean away the germs where they really are, without contributing to the creation of drug-resistant superbugs that can be caused by the overuse of disinfectants.
The truth is that even if you wanted to, you can not sterilize your bathroom. If you want to reduce the germ population to keep things more sanitary, it helps to know where to put your efforts.
Where are the highest concentration of germs in the bathroom?
–Shower stall floor
Answer: The drains.
Where is the least germ-contaminated place in the bathroom?
–Shower stall floor
Answer: The toilet seat.
Does soap work to kill germs?
Even the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends using it to kill germs. Make sure you use real soap, not a detergent.
“Disinfectants” are registered with the EPA as pesticides and have at least a 99 percent “kill rate.” The green kit, below, only includes one product registered as a disinfectant, and it is 100 percent botanical. The rest of the recommendations are sanitizers from simple, natural ingredients and are not officially recognized disinfectants (I put this one product in for anyone who has a special need and believes they have good reason to use a “hospital grade” disinfectant with a 100 percent kill rate.)
As mentioned above, one good reason to avoid synthetic disinfectants (as opposed to one that is botanical), is that when chemical disinfectants kill off bacteria, a resistant strain grows in its stead that is harder to kill. The overuse of botanicals has not been found to cause the growth of superbugs.
* White household distilled 5 percent vinegar. (I buy a gallon jug of this from my local supermarket, and keep it under the kitchen sink.) Vinegar has an 80 to 99 percent kill rate for viruses and bacteria.
* Liquid soap, such as Dr. Bronner’s. (I buy large bottles of this, too, and prefer to buy the type that includes a pure antibacterial essential oil, such as lavender.)
* Antibacterial essential oils such as tea tree oil, rosemary, thyme, and lavender. (These are also available at the health food store; they are expensive, but a little goes a long way.) To use, add 1 teaspoon of the essential oil to 1 cup of water and in a spray bottle, and spray. Do not rinse when you use this spray. (This smell is quite strong but it will dissipate in a few hours.)
* If you buy a disinfectant for special needs cases, research for one that is a 100 percent botanical, hospital-strength and EPA-registered. Some examples include Benefect.
* A few clean spray bottles.
Pour a cup or two of straight vinegar into a spray bottle and spray on the ring; pick up the toilet seat and spray around the top rim of the toilet and the backside of the seat. Do not rinse. (The smell will dissipate in a few hours.)
Alternative: Use the antibacterial essential oil spray mentioned above.
Pour 2 cups of straight vinegar down the drain a few times a week.
Add 2 tablespoons of liquid soap to 1 cup of water. Saturate a cloth and scrub the area. Rinse.
Alternative: Spray with the essential oil spray, above.
General Guidelines if Someone in the House is Sick
Frequent hand washing with soap and water is the most important preventative measure for everyone in the house. You can spray some of the antibacterial spray described under “ingredients” in the air as you would an air freshener, to kill germs, too, which is the protective measure used down the ages.
Caution: If anyone in the house is pregnant or has serious allergies, consult with a doctor before using essential oils.
By Annie B. Bond