How to Sterilise Surfaces

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In these days of Covid we are more aware than ever of the need for hygiene, and the need to sterilise surfaces. We have always been able to wipe a surface down and make it look clean. But looking clean and being sterile and hygienic are two different things.

There are many ways to get surfaces sterile. The best method depends on the particular surface. What works for hard surfaces is not suitable for clothing, and only sometimes suitable for hands and feet. The wrong methods may damage fabric or skin.

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Hard surfaces can almost always be cleaned with spray on sanitisers. Even hand sanitiser is quite good here. And hand sanitiser does not require ventilation. Other spray on sanitisers can be harsh on our lungs, so avoid breathing their fumes.

UV light has received some publicity over the last generations for its ability to sterilise. But the effects are somewhat exaggerated. Long term exposure to UV, say 15 to 30 minutes, will kill many germs. This is effective if we put metal objects, like jewellery, under a UV lamp. It also works for toothbrushes. But it is unrealistic to do this to larger surfaces like kitchen benches. Furthermore, UV is bad for our eyes, so avoid looking at this light.

Germs and viruses will survive on most fabrics. Washing them will help, but we need to use colourfast bleach and hot water if we are to have any chance of killing the Covid.
If helps to fight germs if we soak the clothes in quaternary ammonium before washing.

Some washing machines have an extra hot washing cycle for sterilising clothes. This works well, but make sure the clothes can handle hot water. Some clothes will shrink in hot water.

Find a washing power with anti-bacterial, antiviral washing powders.

Hanging clothes in the Sun will help sterilise them as there is a fair amount of UV in sunlight.

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Covid will survive on open surface for extended periods, from several hours to several days. So if we are to remove the virus we need to sanitise all areas. Boiling water is not recommended, as Covid can survive near boiling conditions. Hot water also tends to be hard on most materials, cracking hard surfaces and causing fabrics to fade and shrink.

– Wear plastic gloves and a mask when cleaning.
– Clean high traffic areas every day.
– Clean doorknobs, light switches, remote controls and anything that is touched.
– Clean cloth masks at the end of each day.
– Air filters with a HEPA filter will go a long way to removing germs and other bad material from the air we breath.

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Good hygiene combined with good cleaning practices will significantly reduce the risk of contracting viruses like Covid.