It's that time of year again. Time for colds, flu, and just general crud. Everybody is cooped up, and it's easy to spread germs and viruses. All three of us have been sick. I started it, and the hubster and my son now have it. We've tried hard to wash hands, keep everything swabbed with disinfecting wipes and sprays, but somehow we still managed to pick up a bug.
The most important thing to remember is that good old soap and water do the best job of removing germs. The surfaces are clean, and any remaining germs or viruses can be killed with disinfectants and other sanitizing agents. While I love disinfecting wipes, they can't get everywhere. That's when disinfecting sprays come in handy. They form a fine mist that gets into nooks and crannies and can be sprayed so that there is even coverage.
Most disinfecting sprays do their best job when they are allowed to sit for a few minutes. The optimal time is 5 minutes in order to kill everything. Unfortunately, some of those sprays are not only expensive, they stink! No matter how they are fragranced, it seems they still smell like chemicals. Blech!
You can make your won disinfecting sprays at home and make them suited to your liking. There are two recipes listed below. One is an alcohol-based disinfecting spray. The other is a paracetic acid spray. The alcohol-based one is easier to make, is very effective at killing the flu virus, and is reasonably safe for all surfaces. The paracetic acid mixture is acidic and contains peroxide so is not recommended for use on items that will bleach, such as fabrics. The CDC has deemed alcohol, peroxide, iodine-based products, and detergents as suitable substances for killing the influenza virus (link HERE).
Finally, if you can stand the smell, a simple mixture of 1 tablespoon of bleach to 1 quart water or 1/4 cup bleach to 1 gallon of water is an effective germ and virus killer. However, it is not safe for all surfaces, and... it stinks.
Here are some alternative recipes for homemade disinfecting spray.
Alcohol-Based Disinfecting Spray:
1 spray bottle
isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol 70% (the regular stuff you buy in the store)
essential oils such as tea tree oil, lavender oil, rosemary oil, or peppermint oil
1 teaspoon Lysol cleaner or other disinfecting liquid cleaner
In spray bottle put either 15-20 drops of essential oil or 1 teaspoon of disinfecting cleaner. Fill with alcohol and insert sprayer. Shake gently to combine. Spray on surfaces and allow to sit until dry.
Paracetic Acid Based Disinfecting Spray:
1 spray bottle
1/4 cup 5% white vinegar
1/4 cup 3% peroxide
5 drops essential oil
(Do not use cleaner with this solution.)
Mix ingredients and carefully pour into a spray bottle and set sprayer to fine mist. Spritz on hard surfaces that are not easily bleached or prone to damage from liquids. Allow to sit until dry.
Note: This makes a small quantity. If you need larger amounts, adjust ingredients accordingly by using 1 part vinegar to 1 part peroxide.
For tips on preventing flu see this post from the CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/stopgerms.htm