How to Sanitize Your Home - And Keep It That Way

Right cleaning tools are of the great help when thoroughly cleaning home, apartment, car, RV, boat and similar areas where one may spend a lot of time.

However, people suffering from asthma, allergies, respiratory and similar issues must step up the cleaning game higher. Also, during the season of cold, flue and similar illnesses, keeping the home not only clean, but sanitized may be rather helpful in keeping people healthy. Or as healthy as possible...

Published: March 12, 2020.

bacteria

Bacteria, viruses, pollen, dust and other germs, dirt, allergens and pollutants in general, are everywhere and are commonly present in human environment.

People tolerate such pollutants in different ways, some people have no issues, some people may notice larger amount of certain pollutant present, but some people may even die if exposed to certain pollutants even during short periods of time.

Keeping the home clean or sanitized usually ranges from 'who cares' to 'manic obsession', but people having health issues simply have no other way but to clean or sanitize their homes completely.

Also, during the seasonal diseases like flu and similar, sanitizing your home lowers the chance of getting the flu or any similar disease.

Lowers by how much? Well, that is hard to tell since it depends on many things that are far beyond the topic of this article.

Note: At the moment of writing this article (March 12, 2020.) World Health Organization (WHO) has declared Corona virus pandemic - it is not the end of the World or the World as we know it, but the things are serious and the Corona virus should not be takes easily. Just ask Chinese or Italians ...

Before we dive more thoroughly in how to sanitize the home more thoroughly, it is important to learn thing or two.

HEPA Air Filtration Levels

Many home cleaning devices are labeled and promoted as 'HEPA' units (HEPA vacuums, HEPA air purifiers, etc.), but what does HEPA actually means?

HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air and basically it tells how good air filter (or device) is in stopping (capturing) small particles (typically 0.3 microns or larger).

Good air filtration ensures that collected dirt is captured in the vacuum cleaner or air purifier and that it stays there. The following chart lists various classifications of air filters and air filtration according to the EN 1822 standard:

Filter Group Filter Class Filtration Efficiency Penetration
Efficiency Particulate Air (EPA) Filters E10 85 % 15 % 
E11 95 % 5 % 
E12 99.5 %  0.5 % 
High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) Filters H13 99.95 %  0.05 % 
H14 99.995 %  0.005 % 
Ultra Low Penetration Air (ULPA) Filters U15 99.9995 %  0.0005 % 
U16 99.99995 %  0.00005 % 
U17 99.999995 %  0.000005 % 

Many manufacturers of air purifiers, vacuums and other cleaning devices and appliances label their units as HEPA , but they don't state HEPA level, or they label it with 'small letters'.

'True HEPA' unit is able to capture at least 99.97% of 0.3 microns or larger particles and technically stands between HEPA H13 and HEPA H14 levels.

Also, it is good to know the size of most common pollutants at homes: flu virus 0.1 μm, bacteria 0.3-10.0 μm, pollen 10.0-100.0 μm, pet and human hair 30.0-200.0 μm, dust mites 90.0-600.0 μm, sand 50.0-1000.0 μm, etc.

At first, it appears that not even HEPA air filters can capture flu and similar viruses efficiently, but don't forget that when one sneezes for example, viruses and bacteria are transferred via very small droplets that are easily filtered out (captured) via good HEPA air filtration systems.

That is why those disposable surgical masks should be worn by, first of all, people having influenza and similar diseases and only then by healthy people.

surgical mask

A good surgical mask can be rather efficient in catching small droplets going away from the mouth/nose of the person exhaling behind the mask, or going toward the mouth/nose of the person inhaling the air behind the mask.

Note: droplets carrying bacteria and viruses may land on the person's face, hands, clothes, shoes and carried a long distance. Or the droplets may land/fall down on any other surface and wait for some time - apparently, corona virus may survive even 7-10 days in the open ...

For short: Do the surgical masks help? Yes they do, but they are not almighty - surgical masks must be set properly to fit the face and they are not made the same. Some surgical masks are made from cheap, thin materials, while other masks are multilayered masks with several layers of different filtration materials, including non-woven (randomly spun) fibers/cloth providing a really good air filtration level.

Can disposable gloves help? When being outside, especially if the one is using means of public transportation, wearing disposable gloves may prevent transfer of bacteria, viruses, allergens and other harmful pollutants on the person's hands - just be sure to take them off properly and dispose off properly.

And now, we come at home ...

Cleaning Tools and Aids

There are several cleaning tools that one may use in order to really sanitize the home - floors, air, walls, windows, etc.

Hand Sanitizer Sprays

hand sanitizer sprayWashing hands using warm water and soap removes the dirt from the skin surface. However, there is always a possibility that some bacteria and other germs are still present.

That is where Hand Sanitizer Sprays may help - apply them as recommended by their manufacturers and in most cases, they kill 99.99% or even 99.999% of bacteria.

Hand Sanitizer Sprays differ greatly in their content, so if you are sensitive to any of their ingredients, don't use that one - before getting any of these, be sure to read the instructions/content list.


Steam Mops

bissell 1940 mSteam mops are cleaning tools that clean and sanitize surfaces using the power of hot steam and by scrubbing the surface using steam mop pads.

If used properly, steam mops can kill up to or even more than 99.9% of all bacteria and other germs and can thoroughly clean the floors from various types of dirt, including stubborn dried stains, pet hair and similar.

Note that steam mops are best used on the bare floors like glazed ceramic and similar. Wooden floors may be cleaned using steam mops if the wooden floor finish tolerates such cleaning due to the heat and moisture and if there are not cracks in the wood finish.

Also, handheld steam mops may be used for cleaning/sanitizing elevated surfaces, cleaning tile grout with proper cleaning attachment, some models may be even used as clothes steamers etc.

Steam mops are not intended for cleaning carpets - some manufacturers offer their steam mops with so called 'carpet gliders', allowing the steam mops to be used to clean carpet surfaces and to refresh their appearance - but they can't clean carpets deeply. Also, sensitive carpets should NOT be cleaned using steam mops since hot steam may damage the colors and even some sensitive carpet materials.


Mattress Vacuums

housmile 12 kpa vac mMattress vacuums are specially designed vacuums that combine several cleaning methods in order to deeply and thoroughly clean and sanitize mattresses, pillows, sheets, and other surfaces where beg bugs, bacteria, pollen and other similar germs, pollutants and allergens may cause health issues.

Most mattress vacuums combine several cleaning methods including UV sanitizing light, strong suction, warm air fan and high-frequency vibrations.

Also, they commonly feature true HEPA air filtration - there is really no point in vacuuming very fine dirt just in order to spread it around due to the bad air filtration.


Carpet Washers

hoover fh52000 mCarpet washers don't actually sanitize the carpets, but they clean them thoroughly using (usually) warm water, cleaning formula, scrubbing brushes and sometimes using how air fan.

Cleaning formulas (detergents) are manufactured for various types of dirt at various types of carpets and other surfaces.

General cleaning formulas are great for general cleaning of carpets and area rugs, but people having pets for example, can clean their carpets more thoroughly with cleaning formulas optimized for pet messes.

Note: cleaning formulas are generally safe for pets, kids and humans, when used as instructed. So use them as instructed ...


Carpet Vacuums

dyson ball animal 2 total clean mCarpet vacuums are dry vacuums that vacuum carpets by combining one or more spinning brushrolls and strong suction.

As the brushrolls spin, they agitate deeply embedded dirt and pull out dirt like pet hair, lint, fibers and similar which are then sucked into the unit via strong suction.

People having health issues should go for multi-surface true HEPA vacuums (99.97% of 0.3 microns or larger particles captured), designed for vacuuming of practically all floor types and elevated surfaces as well, via additional cleaning wand/hose combination.

Such units don't come cheap at first, but they save the money in the long run.


Window Vacuums

karcher wv1 plus mWindow vacuums are intended not only for window washing, but also for washing/cleaning of all flat surfaces like windows (hence the name), mirrors, tiles and other flat surfaces.

Window vacuums feature squeegee for picking up liquids, pump for collecting cleaning liquids and small tank for storing the picked up liquids.

Most window vacuum manufactures also sell different cleaning liquids mostly based on the distilled or demineralized water, combined with the cleaning formula/detergent and scent.


Air Purifiers

germguardian ac4300 mAir purifiers are cleaning aids that are used to - guess what - purifier air.

Unfortunately, air purifiers are often underestimated appliances not as often used by people having respiratory issues as they should.

Good air purifier features multilayered true HEPA air filtration (mechanical pre-filter, carbon filter, HEPA air filter), often combined with UV lamp and other means of air filtration/sanitation.

Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) defines the air purifier's ability to clean the air volume, and is given separately for smoke, dust and pollen - three most common pollutants/allergens.

More advanced air purifiers feature WiFi connectivity and smartphone apps for control and reporting.


HVAC Systems (if present)

HVAC (Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning) systems should be regularly cleaned and sanitized, as recommended by their manufacturers.

Also, their air filters should be regularly replaced - if possible use true HEPA air filters, preferably with activated carbon layer (capture smells and even some gasses) and with added anti-microbial agent to prevent growth of bacteria within the air filter.


Wet Sanitizing Wipes

wet wipes 1Wet sanitizing wipes featuring different compounds for achieving desired level of cleaning and disinfection. Wet sanitizing wipes are used of sanitizing hands, face cleaning/refreshing, for cleaning home surfaces etc.

Since there is huge variety of wet wipes on the market, be sure to read their instructions - there is really no point (and could be rather dangerous) to wash/clean face with wet wipes intended for sanitizing the floors, for example.

Wet sanitizing wipes and similar cleaning aids often contain harsh chemicals and they MUST be used as instructed by their manufacturers.

Regardless if you have health issues due to the allergies or asthma, or you are worried because of the seasonal or any similar diseases, having wet sanitizing wipes at home and especially when traveling, is a good practice - they are cheap and can come very handy.


Long Story Short: It may be quite hard to sanitize the home, but it is harder to keep it that way - it is continuous effort that requires time, money, skill and cleaning tools.

Bleach, vinegar and similar cleaning agents may also be used for cleaning and sanitation as well.

All these cleaning tools here are just a short overview of appliances/aids/means that one may use in order to make the home cleaner and more safer and pleasant to live in.

And to prevent new dirt and pollutants of being brought inside the home.

Note: all these tools and cleaning aids come with instructions - be sure to read them thoroughly before the very first use... Better safe than sorry, right? :)