Germs. They’re everywhere. When you think about it, they are probably densest and most problematic on surfaces like toilet doors and handles, shopping cart handles/toddler seats, and, think about this one: salt shakers and condiment containers in restaurants. Anyone want to guess how often those are wiped down with antiseptic?
Germs come in two basic varieties, bacteria and viruses. What should people be doing to protect themselves from them, and especially from viruses, given the current fear of ebola sweeping the world? What should one use to disinfect surfaces and hands, and importantly, is there one product that protects best from both?
These are not new questions and an internet search reveals that the matter is fairly well understood, albeit not completely. I checked the NIH web site and was surprised to find not much there, but most other sites of recognizable authority are consistent in that regular hand washing with plain soap is the best agent and method. That was determined in the 1990’s and hasn’t changed. What is new is why the most common chemical used in hand wipes, soaps and gels, triclosan, has some serious drawbacks to its general use.
For disinfecting surfaces, I read that household bleach is being used around people currently infected with ebola. But what I really wanted to know was whether we should be doing something special to protect the rest of us in public places. I certainly don’t want my house or car smelling like Clorox. I did find that isopropyl alcohol and ethanol, at 60% to 70% strength, is effective against both bacteria and viruses.
Turns out, there was a very good common-sense blog article on the whole germ matter that was published in Scientific American. I recommend it because, although not wholly definitive, it nicely consolidates everything I was able to find, from Web MD to Wikipedia (antiseptics) and beyond. Here’s the SA link.