Sanitization and Germs

Although it is impossible to eradicate every germ around you, there are things you can do to help make surfaces in your home and workplace less hospitable to a variety of germs. Germs pass freely to and from surfaces, and this category will enlighten the curious and aid the phobic with various tips, tricks, and methods of deep cleaning and sanitizing.

3,014 Questions
Sanitization and Germs

Is using hand sanitizer just as good as washing your hands?

Not really. Obviously, sanitizer is better than nothing, but washing your hands is preferable in a variety of circumstances.

There are certain kinds of germs that sanitizers aren’t great at getting rid of, and many people don’t use them properly (not using enough or wiping it off prematurely, for example). Hand washing is also a better option when your hands are visibly greasy or dirty, and it’s much better at getting rid of harmful chemicals like pesticides.

However, hand washing isn’t always convenient, and there are so many cute and good-smelling hand sanitizers in the world, it would be a shame to forsake them entirely. If you use hand sanitizers, you want one with at least 60 percent alcohol for maximum effectiveness.

Sanitization and Germs

Is it better to wash your hands in warm or cold water?

Although the FDA mandates warm water for those in food service, the CDC says any temperature is fine, so it's a bit of a contested subject.

Heat is known to kill bacteria, but the temperature and duration of exposure required would seriously damage human skin, so that argument for warm water is a bust. Additionally, some advocate for washing in cool water because it uses less energy and is therefore more environmentally friendly.

Anyway, no matter the temperature, washing your hands thoroughly with soap for 20 seconds is good practice.

Conditions and Diseases
Sanitization and Germs
Swine Flu (H1N1/09)

What can you do to avoid getting swine flu?

Avoiding the Swine Flu

Get Vaccinated, it is the best protection.


For the 2012-2013 flu season in the US:

For the 2012-2013 flu season in the US, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved these vaccines for the seasonal flu, all contain vaccine for the H1N1/09 "Swine Flu" and two other viruses suggested by CDC for this season (see more below). There is also a new quadrivalent vaccine approved for use this year, FluMist Quadrivalent.

  1. Afluria (CSL Limited)
  2. Fluarix (Glaxo Smith Kline Biologicals)
  3. FluLaval (ID Biomedical Corporation)
  4. FluMist Trivalent, FluMist Quadrivalent (MedImmune Vaccines, Inc.)
  5. Fluvirin (Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Limited)
  6. Fluzone, Fluzone High-Dose, Fluzone Intradermal (Sanofi Pasteur, Inc.)

The Fluzone Intradermal is a formulation new in the 2011 - 2012 flu season for administration in the layers of the skin (intradermal injection) instead of the intramuscular (IM) injection. Fluzone Intradermal administration uses a microinjection system with a very fine needle. Approved for those aged 18 through 64.

The CDC-approved trivalent vaccines for this flu season will protect against the following three virus strains:

  1. A/California/7/09 (H1N1)-like virus (Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza virus)
  2. A/Perth/16/2009/ (H3N2)-like virus
  3. B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus

FluMist Quadrivalent (Influenza Vaccine Live, Intranasal) is a live quadrivalent vaccine for administration by intranasal spray. FluMist Quadrivalent contains four vaccine virus strains: an A/H1N1 strain, an A/H3N2 strain and two B strains. FluMist Quadrivalent contains B strains from the lineages of: B/Yamagata/16/88 and B/Victoria/2/87.

Avoid contact with others who may be sick

Stay away from people who have the symptoms or a diagnosis of the A-H1N1/09 virus. Avoid large crowds and stay at least two meters (six feet) from anyone with symptoms or who is sneezing or coughing in public.

The swine flu is highly contagious. Close skin-to-skin contact of any type can pass the virus from one person to the next. Such contacts as kissing, hugging, holding or shaking hands, etc. are the most common ways the virus is spread. You can also get it through more indirect contact like sharing drinks, touching doorknobs, light switches, ink pens, handling money, and touching other places and items that infected people have (or may have) touched recently (how recently is under some debate; see the Related Question below about how long viruses live on surfaces. Some reports say 2 hours, some say 2 days or more).

How it is spread person to person

Swine flu is spread in much the same way as the seasonal flu variations and common cold viruses that go around every year most often in the ways stated above. Similar precautions would be used.

Don't give it to others if you are sick

Avoid giving it to others; exercise responsible habits like staying out of crowds and public places when you are ill. You should really stay home if you are sick and for seven days afterward or for 24 hours after symptoms are gone, whichever is longer*. Only go out for necessary medical appointments prior to that.

*The CDC has revised this guideline to say that after 24 hours of no fever without fever reducers it is OK to be out in public again. A report from the Dept. of Homeland Security suggests the original guidelines were better. If you will be around people who are at higher risk such as pregnant women, children (especially babies under 6 months old), the immuno-compromised, etc., then it may be better to take the safest approach and wait for which ever is longer: seven days after first symptoms; or 24 hours after the fever stops.

Cover your coughs and sneezes

If you have a runny nose, always use a tissue to wipe your nose. Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Do not reuse tissues. Throw the tissue away in a trash container after one use. If you can not get a tissue in time, then cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow held close to your face to fully cover your nose and mouth and prevent the spread of respiratory droplets. Wash your hands as soon as you dispose of used tissues. UK motto: "Catch It, Bin It, Kill It!"

Keep your hands clean with frequent hand washing

One of the easiest, most effective, and very simple ways to prevent the spread of the flu is to wash your hands regularly and keep them away from your face, especially your mouth, eyes, and nose. As a general rule of thumb, it is always safest to wash your hands immediately after you shake a person's hand, deal with money, before and after you prepare food, and when you come inside from being outside.

Don't touch public things

Avoid touching surfaces and items in public use, and wash you hands often if you cannot totally avoid these places. Carry hand sanitizer with you and use it often after touching people or things. Use as directed on the label (rub hands until totally dry). A sanitizer that is 60% alcohol content is most effective. Viruses can "live" on inanimate surfaces for around 2 hours (or up to 48 hours in some environmental conditions, see Related Questions below) after you or someone else touches the surface with the virus on your hands. The virus can also be left on the commonly touched areas if you allow respiratory droplets to get on the surfaces with uncovered coughs or sneezes. Make a habit of never touching your face, nose, mouth or eyes, or those of others, without properly washing hands or using a hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol, both before and after touching public things.

Proper hand-washing technique:

Use warm water and regular soap; briskly wash and rub hands, under nails, and between fingers with suds for a minimum of 20-30 seconds; rinse and dry on a clean towel. To know if you have washed your hands long enough for the virus to be removed from your hands, sing two verses of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" or sing "Happy Birthday" quickly twice before you stop washing them with the soap suds. Friction is required to physically rub the virus particles off your hands.

Face Masks

Unless you wear a respirator grade face mask (called N95 type masks) or other specially made masks that can filter the sub-microscopic viruses to prevent your breathing them in, wearing any kind of surgical face mask, or other mask not designed as such (to fit correctly and filter correctly), will not help you avoid getting the flu since the virus is small enough to pass right through the masks or can be carried around the sides of the mask. Also, these masks need to be medically fitted and tested to be properly sealed on your face, or they will not stop you from inhaling the virus. Respirator masks are not recommended for men with beards or for children, since they cannot be made to fit appropriately in these people.

Those who have allergies, asthma, lung disease or other trouble breathing often cannot use N95 type masks, since it can be difficult for them to breathe well with one on.

Plain surgical masks could keep you from giving the flu to someone else, if you have to go in public when you have the virus, but they will not prevent your getting it from an infected person (except if you are close enough to them when they sneeze directly or cough directly on you). It can be recommended for caregivers and parents caring for sick children, or others who are in very close contact with the ill, to use a mask to keep the respiratory droplets from hitting their faces directly. For most situations and for surgical use, surgical masks are designed to keep the respiratory droplets from the wearer contained (like covering your mouth with a tissue does). Respirators and masks should be thrown away after a single use, like a tissue, and you should always wash your hands after touching them.

See the Related Link below for the latest CDC recommendations about masks and respirators.

Prophylactic use of anti-viral medications

In some cases, a health care professional may prescribe anti-viral medicines, like Tamiflu, for others in the same household with a person diagnosed with the A-H1N1/09 virus, to be used as a prophylactic (preventive) medication to keep them from also getting ill from the virus. There are certain groups where this can be beneficial, especially if these people cannot be isolated from the ill person. Ask your health care professional if this is necessary for those who will be in regular contact or in close proximity to an ill person. Prophylactic use is not appropriate, however, in all situations; your health care professional will weigh the risks versus the benefits and make the best decision for your care.

Pork handling and eating

When you eat pork, make sure you cook it to the normal safe temperatures for eating pork products. The influenza virus is destroyed by temperatures of 167-212°F (75-100°C), so you need take no unusual precautions to be safe from any kinds of germs that may be in, or on, the meat. Always wash your hands as you would for all safe handling of meats. You can not get swine flu from eating cooked pork. These measures will assure that you will not get this flu by handling meats contaminated on the outside by the virus (which would be an unusually rare circumstance anyway).

Keep your immune system healthy

Make sure your immune system is in tip-top shape. Always get a full night's sleep. This will help you fight off any illnesses, and if you do happen to catch swine flu, will possibly help you recover faster. You can also take vitamins, especially vitamin C and others that boost your immune system, or drink citrus juice for the vitamin C that it contains. Vitamin C is thought to "boost" the immune system. However, no such studies have been done with the swine flu. Maintain good nutrition and vitamin intake, eat healthier foods such as fruits and vegetables, and laugh and exercise to help relieve stress.

Avoid stress

It is important not to overreact. Avoid stress as much as possible; it can lower your resistance to any disease. Use breathing techniques to calm yourself in stressful situations. If you have a minor headache or stomach ache, this does not mean you are dying of swine flu. Worrying can weaken your immune system and actually make you more prone to illness.


Studies have actually made a connection between laughter and a healthy immune system. Whenever you can, lighten up and let loose a belly laugh. Even if something doesn't seem funny at first, make yourself start laughing. And if others are around, your laughing will be very contagious and, before you know it, you can have tears streaming and be laughing uncontrollably. This has very beneficial results for your health, especially your immune system.


Currently (5/9/09), neither the CDC nor the WHO lists mosquitoes as a method of the spread of H1N1. There is no definitive information about this yet, but it is not likely. Usually mosquitoes do not carry the influenza viruses. They do carry some other viruses, such as West Nile Virus and St. Louis Encephalitis, but so far most people asked do not believe the swine flu will be spread by mosquitoes. But, the two viruses mentioned above (that are carried by them) are deadly, and caution should always be taken when mosquitoes are present.

Wear long sleeves and use DEET repellent. Wear light-colored clothing, since mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors. And keep standing water, in which they lay eggs, emptied. Try to attract hummingbirds (they eat thousands in one day), bats(equally as good in hunting them), frogs and toadsand dragonflies to your yard and garden. Purple Martin birds are also good for mosquito control, but they require more maintenance and very tall and specific houses to attract them.

Stay Informed

Monitor the web pages (see links below) for The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) or TV news channels and WikiAnswers for the latest recommendations about travel restrictions and other containment and prevention measures that may be put in place as the 2009 swine flu pandemic continues.

The US State Department also issues warnings and information for specific travel destinations that will outline any needed information about quarantines

or other safety measures the other country may have in place.

Prior Information about flu vaccines:

For the 2010-2011 flu season:

For the 2010-2011 flu season in the US, it is included in the regular flu vaccination, so unlike 2009, it will only require a single vaccination to be protected against swine flu and two other types of flu that are expected to be circulating this season.

For the 2009-2010 flu season:

In the US, the vaccine is approved, has been released, and is being distributed in late 2009 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to public health organizations within each state. Immunization programs will be handled by health care providers and at the state government level by local health agencies.

The vaccines are being released on a priority basis to those at highest risk of serious illness or death from the flu. Immunization is the No. 1 way to prevent infection with the flu. Stay alert to your state and local government press releases for information on if, when, and where you can get the flu shots (a single shot is all that is required for those over 10 years old, although younger children will need a series of two). See additional information in the Related Questions below about the immunization for "Swine Flu" (A-H1N1/09).

In other countries, distribution of the selected, approved vaccines is also occurring with most countries using a similar priority of need protocol for the first batches. Contact your local health care professional if you are not aware of how to obtain the vaccine in your location.

Get regular seasonal flu shot too

Get the seasonal flu shot as soon as it is available, and then when the H1N1 vaccine is released to your risk group, take it as well. It will be necessary to take both types of flu shots to protect you from all strains of flu, in addition to the swine flu, that are expected to be circulating in the Northern Hemisphere in the 2009 fall and winter flu season. See the Related Questions below for more information about Vaccines for 2009.

See the Related Questions below for more information

on steps you can take to avoid the swine flu virus.

Home Improvement
Sanitization and Germs

What are the 4 steps to hand washing dishes?

Always use hot water to clean your dishes! Even if gloves are needed. Use a good dish cleaning soap. Wash both sides of items. Look for tiny crevices where germs and dirt may be clinging to. A tooth pick may help to dig wha is there, out.

Pray to God for all the help we can get.

Soaps and Detergents
Sanitization and Germs

Can a bar of soap get dirty?

Technically yes, but it’s not something to lose sleep over. Germs do like to live on bars of soap, but they are typically washed away as you wash your hands. A few studies (which, keep in mind, were funded by soap companies) have been conducted on this matter, and no soap germs lingered on any of their participants’ hands.

To decrease the amount of germs on your soap, make sure it dries out between uses—bacteria like damp, slimy soap best. Also, if you rinse your soap before use, you can send many of the remaining germs down the drain.

Sanitization and Germs

What cleans dog urine off a ceramic tile floor?

Mix white vinegar in with warm water and scrub it

Any floor cleaner or soap will remove the urine. Ceramic tile is not porous so it will not have been absorbed by the tile. The grout should be sealed so that shouldn't absorb it either. Just clean the floor as you normally would.
Cold and Flu
Sanitization and Germs

How long does a cold or flu like the swine flu virus live on surfaces?

Flu Virus Life on Surfaces:Different time frames are found referenced about the length of time influenza viruses can remain viable on surfaces outside a living host, but for most environments it is most often quoted that they can "live" for 24 to 48 hours on nonporous environmental surfaces and less than 12 hours on porous surfaces before becoming inert. Some of the study variations on this include:

From the UK National Health Service (NHS):

"The flu virus can live on a hard surface for up to 24 hours, and a soft surface for around 20 minutes."

See the link below in the related links section to this information from NHS.

Other studies have shown that flu viruses and other microbes can "live" on money, both coins and paper money, for much longer under certain conditions. Paper money had viruses viable in one study for over two weeks. See the related question section below for: "Can flu viruses be spread on money?"

In an other study, according to James Steckelberg, M.D., a disease specialist from the Mayo clinic, and other colleagues, it was found that:

The length of time that cold or flu germs can survive outside the body on an environmental surface, such as a doorknob, varies greatly. But the suspected range is from a few seconds to 48 hours - depending on the specific virus and the type of surface.

Click on the Related Link to read the rest of the article from Mayo Clinic.

Flu viruses tend to live longer on surfaces than cold viruses do. Also, it's generally believed that cold and flu viruses remain active ("live") longer on nonporous surfaces - such as plastic, metal or wood - than they do on porous surfaces - such as fabrics, skin or paper.

Although cold and flu viruses primarily spread from direct person-to-person contact, you can also become infected from contact with contaminated surfaces. The best way to avoid becoming infected with a cold or flu is to wash your hands frequently with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. See more prevention techniques in the related questions.

From the US CDC and Flu.Gov web pages:

"The H1N1 virus is new. Research is being conducted to better understand its characteristics. Studies have shown that flu viruses can survive on hard surfaces and can infect a person for up to 2 to 8 hours after being left on items like cafeteria tables, doorknobs, and desks. Frequent hand washing will help you reduce the chance of getting contamination from these common surfaces."

Sanitization and Germs
Sentence and Word Structure

Example of sanitation?

A port-a-pottie or port-a-john instead of going in the woods.

Sanitization and Germs

Why is it important that kitchen storage areas are clean and tidy?

so that there can be no germs to spread on your food

Sanitization and Germs

What is indirect contamination and give an example?

Indirect contamination is the opposite of direct of contamination which does not need to do direct contact to be contaminated. An example of this is a person with HIV/AIDS who shares needles with another person that has no HIV/AIDS. These two people did not have any direct contact with each other, but sharing needles with HIV/AIDS or any types of diseases is an example of indirect contamination which could lead the healthy person to also get the HIV/AIDS.

Sanitization and Germs

What are the top ten dirtiest things in the world?

toilet bowls



light switch

door knob

computer keyboard

shopping cart

remote control

kitchen sponge



indifference of the most affluent about mass poverty

child labor

sexual abuse on adults

sexual abuse on children

passing nuclear waste onto future generations for 20,000 years

cutting down the rainforests to make room for cornfields to feed our cattle

turning a god-given beautiful planet into a dump

completing a college education and then deciding to make or sell land-mines

turning a blind eye when your fellow-men or women are oppressed

indulging in some of the above in the name of someone you call God


Sanitization and Germs

Can vinegar be used as a disinfectant?

No....if vinegar was an acceptable "disinfectant" according the the EPA standards that a disinfectant is held to, then many more companies would sell it because it's cheap! It's true that vinegar does kill germs, but not well enough to call it an effective disinfectant.

Sanitization and Germs

Does cooking grease kill germs?

No, cooking grease can not kill germs. Try using a different method like using soap or hand sanitizer.

Pool Care and Cleaning
Sanitization and Germs

How do you clean rusty pool water?

You will need:

  • 2 litre soda bottle
  • 1/4" bit of drill to make holes on bottom of soda bottle
  • A big web of fiberfiller, ( "pillow stuffing" ) - polyester fibers work ) ( ticking ) cut 12" of the back of a garden hose ( the part that screws on you want)
  • Duck type
  • Optional: extra Hose Clamp

What to do:

  • Take the Soda bottle and cut holes in the BOTTOM of the bottle. Don't make them too large but make sure you have enough, around 15 is a good number.
  • Then stuff the Fiber filler in though the top of the bottle. Compact it down put a little more then half the bottle.
  • Attach the garden hose to the top of the soda bottle, Screw it tight and turn off the pump.
  • Take out the outtake plastic nozzle that's in the pool, ( Save you will need when pool is clean) - ( it will twist off, but keep the hose from the pump connected to the pool so water don't poor out)
  • Put duck Type about 4 to 6 inches on the hose to make a tight seal
  • Put the hose in the hole about 4 to 6 inches into its tight ( add more type, if still loose )
  • Tighten the Hose Clamp
  • Turn on the pump and you're done!

Things you will need:

  1. An old windshield washer fluid bottle (or milk carton).
  2. A big wad of fiberfill (the fluffy stuff that is in pillows).
  3. A 1/4" drill bit and drill.
  4. A short length of hose that will fit into the nozzle where water goes back into the pool from the filter.
  5. A nylon pull tie or two.

What to do:

First: Remove the stock filter from your pump. You can put it back in when you are finished clearing the pool of rust.

Second: Drill a bunch of holes into the bottom of the windshield washer bottle. 10 or 20 is good enough.

Third: Pack the windshield washer bottle with fiberfill. Put a lot in it. Pack it good.

Fourth: Attach your short length of hose to the bottle. Use a nylon pull tie.

Fifth: Attach the other end of the hose to the nozzle that lets water back into your pool from the pump.

Sixth: Wait overnight to see a ton of rust in your home made filter.

Tips: Remove the filter from the pool and rinse with hose water every day until the pool is clear.

Don't attach the home made filter into the nozzle that takes water from the pool. It may suck fiberfill into your pump and if it floats it will suck air into your pump and make it stop.

For those of you with the "easy Up" pools, if you add a sink strainer to the inside of the 2 litre bottle it will keep the fiber fill from bunching up in the neck of the bottle. Also the bottle will screw into the outlet once the debris cover is removed.

Sanitization and Germs
Soaps and Detergents

Does soap kill sperm germs?

yes....soap is sodium(Na )or potassium(k) salt of a higher fatty acid and may present RCOO-Na+ the soap helps in emulsyfying and washing away the oils and fats.hard water does not give leather with soap.hard water contain ca2+,mg2+,ca-.this make the water hard.

Sanitization and Germs

Are HEB brand paper towels good?

Yes, the have some that compare to mainstream, expensive ones.

Sanitization and Germs

Is there a way to get scratches out of the inside bowl of a toilet?

yes, you can have your toilet refinished. Another option is to buy some porcoline patch and do it yourself. Just shut off your angle valve and drain as much water as you can out of the bowl by holding down the trip lever. The water should go down enough for you to repair the scratches and let it dry before turning the water back on. Refinishing the bowl is expensive and unecessary. A little "Soft Scrub" and alot of elbow grease will usually do it.

Sanitization and Germs

Why do pillows turn yellow when washed?

it is probably Clorox that is one thing that could cause a pillow or somrthing else to make it look yellow

Sanitization and Germs
Immune System

How do phagocytes destroy bacteria?

phagocytes eat the bacteria by secreting an ensyme

Sanitization and Germs

Does the infrared heaters kill bacteria?

it do

Sanitization and Germs

The effectiveness of chemical sanitizers is not affected by?


Sanitization and Germs

How do you clean a freezer gasket?

Try warm soapy water and a soft brush.

Answer: Baking soda and water should do the trick. Baking soda is a natural degreaser.

Another answer

You can use neat dishwasher cleaning fluid - the kind that you put into an empty dishwasher with the cap pointing downwards without first opening the bottle. Then you have to run the dishwasher on a full wash cycle at its maximum temperature and it will clean the pump and all the pipes as well as the rest of the inside of the dishwasher.

Well, you can unscrew the cap of that type of dishwasher cleaner liquid and drip just a small amount of it neat (i.e. undiluted) onto a clean piece of rag - plain cotton cloth is best - but you can also try a piece of thick kitchen tissue - and use it to clean off the "grime and gunge" of rubber gaskets on dishwashers, washing machines, fridges, freezers and any other household appliances which have that type of seal.

Then, after using a little neat liquid to do that job, you can simply screw the cap back onto the bottle and use the rest of it in the normal way to clean the pump, pipes and the rest of the inside of the dishwasher!

Note: always read the instructions on any bottle of detergent before you use it that way! Depending on the ingredients it contains, wearing rubber gloves may be strongly recommended!

Sanitization and Germs

How far do sneeze germs travel in the air?

As long as the air takes them.

It depends on the wind speed at the moment and the extent to which it has been thrown.

Coins and Paper Money
Sanitization and Germs

What is the purpose of cleaning pennies with vinegar?

Vinegar is a mild acid. It will remove light oils, dirt and tarnish without significant damage to the base metal.

Sanitization and Germs
Soaps and Detergents

What are the disadvantages of detergents?

it can destroy the environment.
1) Detergents are not biodegradable because they have highly branched hydrocarbon chain which is not biodegradable.


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