12-20-1016 New Results Posted--Force of Nature, doTerra cleaner, Thieves Cleaner, Pyoure, Purell Surface, Better Life, Honest Company, H2O at Home, Hibiclens, Betadine, Citrus II, Lemongrass Spa, BioProtect Clean and Seal, Norwex dish soap, and Oxiclean. Jump there from the table on contents because this page is a mile long.
If you would like to be alerted when new experimental results are posted, please like my Facebook page.
With so many different cleaning products on the market, it is hard to decide what to use. Are the natural cleaning products as effective as those with strong chemicals? What is the safest yet effective product to use for my family? To answer these questions, I decided to compare the effectiveness of different cleaning products on bacteria. (It is not possible to test for viruses at home.) These are relatively simple experiments that you can repeat at home and would make great science fair projects for your kids. I've tried to write detailed instructions so they can be repeated. I wore nitrile gloves to do the experiments. You can even get these kid sized gloves. Also, my experiments use a LOT of bacteria and dirt and may overwhelm some of the cleaning products. So some cleaning products appear to do nothing in my experiments even though they probably really do kill germs in the specific laboratory tests that were done on them. A cleaning product has to be really strong in order to look good in my experiments. My experiments separate the MEN from the BOYS. So, I will not be saying whether or not a particular cleaning product really kills 99.9% of germs like the bottle says. My experiments only allow us to COMPARE different cleaning products under my experimental conditions. I apologize for how massive and long this page is. Use the table of contents to help you find what you are looking for.
IMPORTANT! Never mix cleaning chemicals. Never mix ANYTHING with chlorine bleach (or products containing chlorine bleach) especially any product containing ammonia such as Windex. Never mix vinegar with chlorine bleach and never mix alcohol with chlorine bleach.
If you are new to my website, let me tell you a little about myself. My name is Annie Pryor. I have a Ph.D. in biochemistry from The Ohio State University. After a few years working in a research lab, I "retired" to be a stay-at-home mom. When my first baby got a terrible stomach virus that required a trip to the ER, I decided to research the subject and created this website dedicated to reducing the prevalence of the stomach "flu" in the world. My 3 little kids keep me busy, but I still get a hankering to do experiments now and then. I've tested cleaning products, hand sanitizers, produce washing techniques, essential oils, Norwex Cloths, SteriPens, laundry, lunch box coldness, the Phone Soap, sponges, and even sunlight. I also happen to be the inventor of a really useful drying rack. I invented it because I needed a convenient place next to the kitchen sink to hang baby bibs up to dry between meals. It is also perfect for drying sports water bottles, dish cloths, food-storage bags, cleaning cloths and many other items. I have a shorter drying rack (12.5 inches tall) and a taller 15 inch rack. The Mommy Genius® Drying Racks are manufactured in the USA and are available on Amazon. If you would like to be informed when new experimental results are posted, please like my Facebook page.
I am also very proud of my daughter, Katie Scarlett. At age 8, she has written, illustrated, and published the first 3 books in a delightful series! Princess Katie and the Fairy Tea Party , Princess Katie and the Mermaid Lagoon , and Princess Katie and the Kitty Club are available on amazon. The stories are so sweet and teach about kindness, forgiveness, including others, and doing the right thing. I think every little girl would love them! Please consider buying them for a little girl that you love. Katie gets about a $2 royalty from amazon for each book sold that is getting deposited into her college savings account.
Many people are confused and think that I want to kill all the germs in the world. This is not true. There is good bacteria in our bodies and our environment that is extremely important. I consider myself a "norophobe" and not a "germaphobe". I mainly detest stomach viruses and anything that will kill you. I also detest toxic chemicals. So, I don't want to waste my time using a toxic cleaning product that isn't really doing anything or isn't necessary. That is why I wanted to test these products and figure out what is best. So, I don't think you need to sterilize your entire house. It would be impossible anyway. Our bodies, produce, carpet, floors, clothing, and environment are full of germs. Most of them are harmless or even helpful. My kids come inside covered in dirt every day and snuggle with our dog. Everyone gets PLENTY of germ exposure. If you have ever taken a toddler outside to play, you know that they get dirt in their mouths, and it is pretty much impossible to keep them "too clean". However, from my schooling and research I have learned that most nasty illnesses are spread through poop. So, I see no harm in having a clean toilet and washing hands before eating. Washing your hands before eating, keeping a relatively sterile toilet and food preparation surfaces is not going to make a dent in the total number of germs that you are exposed to every day. It will just reduce the likelihood of you coming in contact with a terrible germ.
To test cleaning products, I used masking tape to section off squares on my kitchen countertop and labeled them according to what I would be testing. I made sure that my countertop was very clean to start with, of course.
Next I made germy water. To do this I mixed a small scoop of mud from our back yard into purified water. Then I poured the muddy water through a paper towel to filter out the chunks. I was left with very dirty water which contains lots of bacteria. For some experiments, I also scraped bacteria off of an already grown agar plate from a previous experiment and mixed those germs in. This way my "germ water" had lots of bacteria in it.
I put 1mL of germ water onto each square with the exception of the "clean" control square using these 1mL syringes.
I rubbed the germ water around the square with my gloved finger. Then I let the squares dry completely which took 2-3 hours.
Once the squares were dry, I put .5mL of each cleaning product onto its respective square.
I rubbed the cleaning product around to completely cover the square using a clean gloved finger. I went over the square a few times to make sure that the cleaning product completely covered it. Then I set a timer and let the cleaning product sit on its square for 5 minutes (10 minutes for some experiments).
After the allotted time, I used a sterile swab to swab the square. Most squares were still wet after 5 minutes. However, if a square was dry, I dipped the swab in sterile water before I rubbed the square. I rubbed all over the square but I did not touch the tape (just in case the tape held onto bacteria and interfered with the experiment).
Then I scribbled all over an agar plate with the swab.
agar plates available on amazon. They come with the sterile swabs.
The plates were incubated for 24 hours in my homemade incubator consisting of a plastic box and a heat lamp. The temperature was about 90 degrees F. In case you are repeating this, the plates need to be put into the incubator upside down. (That means that the agar is on top so condensation does not settle on the bacteria colonies.) Any bacteria present on the plate will grow and multiply. After about 24 hours you can see colonies (or piles) of bacteria on the plates. It is important to remember that viruses do not grow on these plates. Just bacteria and some fungus. Also all types of bacteria do not grow on these plates. So, a clean looking plate does not necessarily mean that there were no microorganisms present. It just means that nothing that could grow on the agar plate was present. However, this is still a very valuable information for comparing different cleaning products.
White Vinegar, Isopropanol, Hydrogen Peroxide, Method All-Purpose Cleaner, Thieves Spray, Lysol Disinfectant Spray, and Zylast Hand Sanitizer
In the following experiments, I tested pure white vinegar, Lysol Disinfectant Spray, 70% isopropanol, 91% isopropanol, 3% Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2), Method All Purpose Natural Surface Cleaner, Thieves Spray, and Zylast Antiseptic hand sanitizer. (Zylast Antiseptic is one of the few hand sanitizers that I recommend for killing norovirus. It can be purchased at http://www.zylastdirect.com/catalog.php and using the coupon code "StopNorovirus" will get you 10% off your order. Zylast is also available on amazon but you can't use that coupon code on amazon.) I put 1mL of dirty germ water on each square. In the first experiment dated 5-3-2015, the germ water did not have additional bacteria added. The experiment dated 5-5-2015 DID have additional bacteria added. I used .5mL of each cleaning product. To get .5mL of the Lysol spray, I sprayed it into a plastic cup and then got .5mL in a syringe.
As you can see, only the 3% hydrogen peroxide and the Zylast hand sanitizer seemed to do a great job. The Method All Purpose Natural Surface Cleaner wins the award for my favorite smelling cleaning product. I am stunned and saddened by the Lysol Disinfectant spray results. Since the 5-3-2015 experiment did not have extra bacteria added, it is essentially the same as someone tracking dirty water from outside onto your floor and you spraying it with Lysol.
I was in such shock about the Lysol spray results that I repeated the experiment without DIRT. I thought maybe the Lysol and the alcohol just couldn't penetrate dirt. So, I scrapped bacteria from the previous days dirty control plate and mixed it up in water. I put 1mL of that "clean" germ water onto each square on my countertop and did the experiment again.
I was so surprised that I got about the same results. The Method All Purpose Natural Surface Cleaner and the Thieves spray seemed to do a bit better this time. The 3% hydrogen peroxide and the Zylast hand sanitizer really do an impressive job killing bacteria compared to the rest. However, please remember that most of these cleaning products say on the bottle that they can only be used on "pre-cleaned" surfaces. So, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that they don't do much in my experiments.
3% hydrogen peroxide can be purchased in the bandage aisle in most grocery stores. It can be difficult to find the spray bottles, though. Hydrogen peroxide is unstable and needs to be kept in its own brown bottle. The spray bottles are available on amazon if you can't find them in a store. Zylast Antiseptic is one of the few hand sanitizers that I recommend for killing norovirus. It can be purchased at http://www.zylastdirect.com/catalog.php and using the coupon code "StopNorovirus" will get you 10% off your order. If you want more information about how I clean with hydrogen peroxide, please read the bottom of this page. It is also important to remember that this regular 3% hydrogen peroxide may not kill the dreaded norovirus. So, I recommend using a solution of 10% chlorine bleach or the Clorox Hydrogen Peroxide Spray if anyone in your house has a stomach bug.
What about my kitchen sink?
Just because a cleaner doesn't appear to do much in my experiments, doesn't mean that they don't do what the label says. Most of them say that they can only be used on already clean surfaces. Some of my experiments have so much bacteria that it might not be a true reflection of what is going on in your house. So, throughout this page I'll also be testing cleaners on my kitchen sink and my neighbor's kitchen sinks. Here I tested pure white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide on my kitchen sink. I have a 2 sided stainless steel sink. First, I rinse the sink really well to make sure it looks clean. Then I swabbed the sink and rubbed the swab on an agar plate to see how much bacteria was in the sink. Then I sprayed 30 sprays of 3% hydrogen peroxide all over one side and let it sit for 5 minutes. I did not wipe at all. Then I swabbed that side. Then I sprayed 30 sprays of pure white vinegar all around on the other side and let that sit for 5 minutes. I swabbed that side and the plates were incubated overnight.
As you can see, the pure white vinegar does appear to kill some bacteria. It just isn't as strong as 3% hydrogen peroxide. The pure white vinegar does seem to kill more bacteria in my sink experiments than the On Guard or Thieves cleaner does (which you will see if you keep reading). I'm still going to use 3% hydrogen peroxide to spray my sinks. There is even a little travel size bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide available that you can refill. I've tested this one and it is great.
Seventh Generation Disinfecting Multi-purpose cleaner, Chlorine Bleach, Scott 24 hour sanitizing spray, Clorox Hydrogen Peroxide Spray, Lysol Disinfectant Spray.
In this experiment, I tested 3% hydrogen peroxide(H2O2), 10% chlorine bleach, Clorox® Hydrogen Peroxide Spray, Scott 24 Hour Sanitizing Spray , 70% isopropanol, Seventh Generation Disinfecting Multi-Surface Cleaner, Method All Purpose Natural Surface Cleaner, pure white vinegar, and 3 different bottles of Lysol Disinfectant Spray. This experiment had a TON of bacteria to start with because you can not even see individual colonies on the dirty control plate. That just means that the cleaner had a LOT of work to do.
Only the 3% hydrogen peroxide, the 10% chlorine bleach, the Clorox® Hydrogen Peroxide Spray, and the Scott 24 Hour Sanitizing Spray did well. I simply can't BELIEVE the results for the 3 different bottles of Lysol spray. The Lysol bottle says that it takes 30 seconds to sanitize and 10 minutes to disinfect. Keep reading to see the 10 minute experimental results. Also, some of my experiments have TON of bacteria in them (much more than would normally be on a household surface). Also, almost all of these cleaners say that they need to be used on a "pre-cleaned surface" which is not happening in my experiments. So, just because a cleaner doesn't appear to do anything in my experiments, doesn't mean that it really doesn't do anything at all. The cleaner probably works as advertised in their specific laboratory tests. The cleaner just has to be really powerful to look good in my experiments. My experiments separate the MEN from the BOYS. So, I am not saying that "Lysol doesn't do anything." I am saying that Lysol disinfectant spray does not kill bacteria in my experiments nearly as well as regular 3% hydrogen peroxide. Here is a photo of the 3 different cans of Lysol that I tested in these experiments. If you want more information about how I clean with hydrogen peroxide, please read the bottom of this page.
Since the bottle of Lysol disinfectant spray says that it takes 10 minutes to disinfect (and only 30 seconds to sanitize), I thought I had better try the experiment again and let the Lysol have the full 10 minutes. I bought another new bottle of Lysol for this experiment (the pink one) and used the purple one that I had used in the previous experiments.
I put 1mL of germ water onto each square of the countertop and let it dry completely. The germ water was made from dirt from the back yard with a smaller than usual amount of additional bacteria added. When the squares were dry, I shook the Lysol, and sprayed it into small Dixie cups. I let it settle for 1 minute so I could measure it accurately. I used 1mL syringes to put .5mL of Lysol or Hydrogen Peroxide onto the appropriate square. I rubbed the cleaner around on the square with my gloved finger to be sure that it was completely covering the square. There was PLENTY of Lysol to completely cover the squares. Then I set my timer for either 5 minutes or 10 minutes. When the timer beeped, I swabbed the square and rubbed the swab all around an agar plate. The plates were incubated for 24 hours. I did note that the squares were almost dry at the 5 minute time period and were completely dry at the 10 minute period. Here are the results.
Well, it does look like Lysol did some germ killing in this experiment. It looks like the pink Lysol had a little improvement at the 10 minute time period compared to the 5 minute time. However, Lysol just doesn't compare to hydrogen peroxide in these experiments. I guess it is not that surprising. According to the Lysol website, Lysol needs to be used on an already CLEAN surface. I used dirty surfaces. So, if there are a few germs left on an already clean surface and you completely cover it with Lysol and somehow manage to get it to stay wet the full 10 minutes, it probably kills all the germs it says on the bottle. However, if you see a public bathroom toilet with some poop and pee marks, I am quite confident that simply spraying it with Lysol is not going to do the trick.
First, I dipped a sterile swab in distilled water and swabbed the bottoms of each shoe and rubbed the swabs onto agar plates. (The swabs work best when wet.)
Next I sprayed the HECK out of the shoes. I sprayed Lysol disinfectant Spray for about 30 seconds on one shoe. This was SO MUCH Lysol that it was dripping off and left a fairly large puddle on the floor. I completely covered the bottom of the shoe with Lysol. Then I sprayed the heck out of the other shoe with 3% hydrogen peroxide until it dripped off and left a puddle. I let the shoes sit (sole side up) for 10 minutes. Then I swabbed each shoe again. Here are the results.
Seventh Generation Disinfecting Multi-purpose cleaner, Clorox Clean-Up with Bleach, and Scott 24 hour Sanitizing Spray.I repeated the experiment with LESS bacteria in the germ water to give the Seventh Generation a better chance. As you can see below, with less bacteria to begin with, you can see that the Seventh Generation really does kill some germs. I also tested Clorox Clean-Up with bleach in this experiment. So, if you have a nice expensive countertop like granite and don't want to risk hydrogen peroxide ruining it, I think the Seventh Generation is a good choice.
Seventh Generation on my kitchen sink
I wanted to give the Seventh Generation Multi-purpose cleaner another chance in a real life situation. So, I tested it on my kitchen sink. I had not sanitized my 2-sided stainless steel kitchen sink for at least 24 hours. I swabbed the sink and rubbed it on an agar plate for a dirty control. Then I sprayed 1 side of the sink with 30 sprays of hydrogen peroxide and let it sit for 5 minutes. I sprayed the other side with 30 sprays of the Seventh generation cleaner and let it sit for 5 minutes. I did not wipe the sink at all. Then I swabbed the sink again and rubbed the swabs onto the appropriate plates. The plates were incubated for 48 hours.
For these next experiments, I tested Clorox Clean-Up With Bleach Spray, Clorox Anywhere Spray , Pine-Sol, baking soda water, and Borax water. I did the experiment the same way. I made dirty water using dirt from the back yard. I also added some bacteria from a previous experiments agar plate. In this case, the bacteria was from a swab of the bottom of my son's school shoe.
I put 1mL of germ water on each square on the countertop.
I spread the dirty water around with my gloved finger.
Hopefully, you are catching on because I don't have a photo of each step. I let the germ water completely dry which took about 2 hours. Then I added .5mL of each cleaner onto its respective square. For the borax and water mixture, I used 1 teaspoon of borax and 10 teaspoons of sterile water. It completely dissolved. For the baking soda and water mixture, I used 1 teaspoon of baking soda in 10 teaspoons of water. It was still gritty and did not dissolve completely. I spread the cleaners around to completely cover the square with a clean gloved finger. Then I set the timer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, I swabbed the square and rubbed the swab onto an agar plate. The plates were incubated in my warm incubator for 24 hours. Here are the results.
Clorox Clean-Up With Bleach Spray did a great job killing germs. It also contains enough chlorine bleach to kill norovirus so it is a good choice if you are cleaning up after someone with a stomach virus. It produces terrible fumes in my opinion, though, so I would always prefer the Clorox Hydrogen Peroxide wipes and Clorox® Hydrogen Peroxide Spray which are proven to kill norovirus surrogates but don't usually cause asthma attacks. Clorox Anywhere Spray did not seem to do much. Pine-Sol (which I used straight without diluting it at all) might have done a tiny bit of germ killing. The Pinesol bottle says that it needs to sit for 10 minutes to kill germs and I only left it on for 5 minutes. The baking soda water did not seem to do much. Perhaps the Borax in water did a little bit of germ killing but nothing impressive. Please remember that my experiments contain a lot of dirt and bacteria. A product has to be really powerful to look good in my experiments. They are not sensitive enough to detect subtle germ-killing. So, I am not saying that these products do not kill any germs and do not do what they claim on the label. I'm just saying that they don't compare to 3% hydrogen peroxide in their ability to kill bacteria.
Clorox Anywhere on my kitchen sink
Since my previous experiments contained a lot of dirt and germs, I wanted to test the Clorox Anywhere spray on something that I would really want disinfected, my kitchen sink. I thoroughly rinsed out the sink so there was no debris in it. Then I swabbed it and rubbed the swab onto an agar plate. Then I sprayed 40 sprays of Clorox Anywhere spray all around the sink. That is much more than anyone would ever actually use. I did not wipe at all. I just let it sit for 5 minutes. It clearly killed some germs.
CleanSmart Daily Surface Cleaner is an exciting and unique product because its active ingredient is .017% hypochlorous acid. (It is different than chlorine bleach which is sodium hypochlorite, although, there is some hypochlorous acid in a chlorine bleach solution.) It claims to kill 99.9% of germs and claims to be safe for your hands and safe for any surface including sealed granite, stainless steel, ceramic tile, linoleum, vinyl, glass, and finished wood. It is supposed to be completely safe for people, although, I do detect a hint of a chlorine smell when I use it. It does say that it only works on pre-cleaned surfaces. So, I did not expect it to do well in this experiment.
For this experiment, I compared CleanSmart Daily Surface Cleaner, CleanSmart hand cleaner, Clorox Anywhere Spray, and hydrogen peroxide. I did the experiment like I always do using dirt and extra bacteria.
I put 1mL of germ water onto each square, rubbed it in, and let it dry completely. Then I put .5mL of each product onto its respective square and rubbed it around to completely cover the square. I let the cleaners sit for 5 minutes. Then I swabbed the squares, rubbed the swabs onto agar plates, and incubated the plates for 24 hours.
As you can see, the CleanSmart Daily Surface Cleaner, the Clorox Anywhere, and the CleanSmart hand cleaner do not compare in bacteria killing power to hydrogen peroxide. However, this was a lot of dirt and germs and CleanSmart does say that it only works on already clean surfaces. So, I tested it in my kitchen sink.
What about on my kitchen sink?
Since CleanSmart says that it only works on already clean surfaces and my experiments have a lot of dirt and germs, I wanted to give it a real life test on my kitchen sink. I have a 2-sided stainless steal sink. My kitchen sink had not been sanitized for about 24 hours. I thoroughly rinsed the sink out with water so it looked clean. Then I swabbed the sink and rubbed the swab onto an agar plate to see how much bacteria was there. Then I sprayed one side all around with 20 sprays of CleanSmart. I did not wipe it, but I let it sit for 5 minutes. Then I swabbed that side and rubbed the swab onto an agar plate. Then I sprayed the other side all around with 20 sprays of 3% hydrogen peroxide. I let that sit for 5 minutes and then swabbed. I did this experiment on a few different days.
As you can see, the Clean Smart did not kill as much as hydrogen peroxide but it did kill a significant amount of bacteria.
When I used 40 sprays of CleanSmart I got really clean results. That was about 1/4 of the bottle, though.
To sum up, I actually like CleanSmart because it produces very little smell and is pretty safe for people and surfaces. So, if you have a nice countertop that you don't want to chance hydrogen peroxide ruining, I think CleanSmart is a good choice. Make sure to thoroughly wipe off all surfaces first, then spray with a lot of spray and let it sit.
In this experiment, I tested the Poofy Organics I am Goddess Vesta Spirited Mint All-Purpose Cleaner and the Poofy Organics Clean Clappers hand cleanser. These products do not even claim to kill any percentage of germs. I did the experiment just like I always do. I used germ water with dirt and extra bacteria. I put 1mL of germ water onto each square on my countertop. I spread it around the square and let it completely dry.
Then I added .5mL of each product to its square and rubbed it around. I let the products sit for 5 minutes and then swabbed. I incubated the agar plates for 24 hours.
In this next experiment, I compared the Goddess Cleaner to Ava Anderson bathroom cleaner.
I had a few request to test whether or not garlic could kill germs. So, I got a clove of garlic and ground it up in my garlic twist.
I added a little water and mixed it up to make "garlic juice".
I tested .5mL of this garlic juice on a dirty countertop square for 5 minutes just like I do the cleaning product experiments. There does seem to be a small decrease in the amount of bacteria. I really need to repeat this one a few more times to be sure. The plate labeled "garlic juice by itself" was just a swab of the garlic juice to make sure that it did not contain bacteria.
ASAP 10 Silver Solution and Bio-Silver Ultra Colloidal Silver . I did the experiments on the countertop just like the cleaning product experiments. I used .5mL of each silver and let it sit for 5 minutes.
I did not detect any significant bacteria killing ability from these silver products. This does not mean that they don't kill any germs. My experiments have a lot of dirt and a lot of germs. A product has to be really powerful to look good in my experiments. So, there could be a small amount of germ-killing going on that I can't detect. Also, it is possible that the colloidal silver takes a lot longer than 5 minutes to kill germs. This experiment just compares it to the bacteria-killing power of hydrogen peroxide.
Shaklee Basic G, Basic H, Melaleuca Sol-u-guard, Lysol Power and Free, OdoBan, Fabuloso, Star San, Thieves Cleaner, Cleaning Vinegar, ALPET D2, Essential Oxygen 3% Hydrogen Peroxide, PureGreen 24, Lysol concentrate
In these experiments, I tested OdoBan , Fabuloso , Lysol Multi-Purpose Cleaner w/ Hydrogen Peroxide , Heinz Cleaning Vinegar , regular white vinegar, Melaleuca Sol-U-Guard , Shaklee Basic G, Shaklee Basic H , Thieves cleaner, Essential Oxygen Hydrogen Peroxide 3% Food Grade, Alpet D2 , Puregreen24, Lysol Concentrate Disinfectant, and Star San Acid Sanitizer. I followed the manufacturers recommendations for all the products that needed diluted. The PureGreen24, Alpet D2, Lysol Power and Free cleaner, and vinegar did not need diluted. The Sol-u-guard is a 1:1 dilution. I used the Fabuloso and Basic G in a 1:64 dilution. The OdoBan was a 1:25 dilution. I used the Thieves cleaner as a 1:10 dilution and undiluted. The Star San was a 1:640 dilution. The Basic H was 1.5 teaspoons of the concentrate in 16 ounces of water. The regular Lysol concentrate was diluted 5 tablespoons in 1 quart of water.
I do these experiments on the countertop using germ water made from dirt and added bacteria. If you need details please read the general procedure section near the top of the page. I put 1mL of germ water on each square and spread it around with my gloved hand. I let the germ water completely dry. Then I add .5mL of each cleaner (at the proper dilution) to the appropriate square and spread it around with my clean gloved finger to completely cover the square. I go over the square several times to make sure the cleaner is completely covering it. Then I set the timer for 10 minutes( because Basic G and OdoBan said they required 10 minutes to disinfect). After 10 minutes I swab the square and rub the swab onto an agar plate. The agar plates are incubated for 24 hours in my warm incubator. The bottles of all of these cleaners say that they are only to be used on a CLEAN smooth surface so don't get your hopes up. My experiments use dirty surfaces.
In the 2 experiments above, we can see that Fabuloso and OdoBan are not fabulous, but Essential Oxygen food grade 3% hydrogen peroxide is fabulous.
In the above experiment, we see that Basic G and Soluguard have some significant bacteria killing ability. I also put my some hand sanitizers in this experiment. You can see how much better my favorites are (Zylast antiseptic and GFS BioProtect) compared to regular Purell advanced. It is amazing that these hand sanitizers can be more effective than lots of the cleaners.
In the above experiment, Basic G is still doing great. I also have the undiluted Thieves cleaner in this experiment but it just doesn't compare to hydrogen peroxide. The Lysol Power and Free Hydrogen Peroxide cleaner clearly kills some germs but is not super impressive.
As you can see from these experiments, results can vary. Each experiment contains a little bit different amount of dirt and different added bacteria. So, the results are not exactly the same (which is why I repeat them several times). In some experiments, white vinegar, Sol-u-guard, PureGreen24, Lysol Power and Free Cleaner, and Thieves cleaner appear to be killing some bacteria. In other experiments, they don't seem to do much. Of course, the reason is likely because most of these cleaners can only be used on already clean surfaces. The regular Lysol kills some bacteria but really, really, really smells terrible. As usual, 3% hydrogen peroxide always works well. Shaklee Basic G is impressive! It works so well even on the dirty surface! It also has a mild and very pleasant smell. So, if you want to use Basic G for your regular cleaning, you have my blessings! (I'd still get out chlorine bleach if anyone has a stomach bug). You can purchase Basic G from the two authorized sellers that were kind enough to send me samples to try. http://katederrico.myshaklee.com/us/en/ and http://sagaciousliving.myshaklee.com/us/en/. Basic G is not allowed to be sold on amazon. So, I would not buy it on amazon because it might be counterfeit.
What about on the kitchen sink?
Now, it might be unfair for me to expect so much from cleaners that clearly state on the bottle that they can't handle dirt. So, I decided to test them in a real life situation. The kitchen sink. We all expect that whatever disinfectant we are using WILL KILL the germs in our kitchen sink, right? I did not add any extra dirt or germs to my sink experiments. This is just a sink like yours. I just rinsed everything down the drain so that the sink looked clean and had nothing stuck on it.
I swabbed the sink and rubbed the swab onto an agar plate for the dirty control. Then I sprayed 1 cleaner all over one side of the sink using 30-40 sprays. The sink was completely covered with the cleaner. Then I sprayed the same number of sprays of my beloved 3% hydrogen peroxide all over the other side of the sink. I did not wipe the sinks or rinse them. I set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes. After the time, I swabbed each side of the sink and rubbed the swabs onto an agar plate. The plates were incubated for 24-48 hours in my warm incubator. I also tested some of my neighbors sinks since I can only do one test every few days in my own sink. (Must have time to let it get germy again).
Basic G in the sink
Shaklee Basic G did awesome in my sink, and I only left this one for 5 minutes.
This wasn't the kitchen sink but I did the same experiment on my shower floor and Basic G did awesome!
Sol-u-Guard in the sink
This time I used my kitchen sink and my neighbor's kitchen sink and Sol-u-guard did awesome!
Even though Melaleuca Sol-U-Guard did not always do great in my countertop experiments with lots of dirt and germs, it did OK in them and it did great in this real life sink situation. So, if this is your favorite cleaner, I think it is fine. I would still get out the chlorine bleach if someone gets a stomach virus.
ALPET D2 in the kitchen sink
For this experiment, I tested Alpet D2 on my neighbor's sink. ALPETD2 is a cleaner with the main ingredient of isopropanol. It smells strongly of isopropanol which I am not a fan of.
This time when I tested the ALPETD2, I rubbed it in really good all around the sink with my gloved hand. I was sort of scrubbing the sink with my gloved hand.
From these results, I can tell that ALPET D2 does kill bacteria. However, it is obviously a disinfectant that must be used on an already extremely clean surface.
I have many more of these kitchen sink experiments to do. I will be testing PureGreen24, OdoBan, Lysol Power and Free, and StarSan on the kitchen sink. They may work better in the sink than they did in the dirty countertop experiments. It takes a long time to do them because I have to let the sink get dirty for a few days and test each cleaner a few times. So, please be patient and check back regularly.
PureGreen 24 in the kitchen sink.
I tested PureGreen 24 in my neighbors' sinks. It did very well.
Force of Nature, doTerra cleaner, Thieves Cleaner, Pyoure, Purell Surface, Better Life, Honest Company, H2O at Home, Hibiclens, Betadine, Citrus II, Lemongrass Spa, BioProtect Clean and Seal, Norwex dish soap, and Oxiclean.12/20/2016
After many requests from viewers, I tested Force of Nature, doTerra cleaner, Thieves cleaner (which I had already tested), Pyroure, Purell Surface, Better Life multipurpose cleaner, Better Life floor cleaner, Better life stain and odor remover, Honest Company multipurpose cleaner, H2O at home cleaner, Citrus II, Hibiclens, Betadine, Lemongrass Spa, Norwex dish soap, blue Dawn dish soap, and BioProtect Clean and Seal. I received the Thieves cleaner, doTerra OnGuard cleaner, Lemongrass Spa aromatherapy spray and hand soap, and H20 at Home cleaner from website viewers. I purchased the PURELL Surface and Citrus II cleaners from Amazon. I purchased the Better Life products from Better Life. I ordered the Honest Company multipurpose cleaner from Target. I purchased the Norwex dish soap from the Norwex website. I bought the Hibiclens and Betadine at Walmart. I received the Force of Nature from a website viewer. The owner of the Pyroure company sent me their product to test.
To test these products, I did the same countertop experiments that I usually do. I sectioned off squares on my countertop using masking tape. I made "germ water" using dirt from the backyard and water. I filtered it through a paper towel to remove chunks. Then I scraped colonies of bacteria from a previous days agar plate and mixed that in. The previous days plate was a "dirty sink" plate. So, there was lots of dirt and lots of bacteria in these experiments. I put 1mL of germ water onto each square.
I used a gloved finger to spread the germ water around the square. Then I let the squares dry completely which took about 2 hours. If you would like to see pictures of every step in this process, please scroll to the top of this mile-long page. I go into greater detail about my experimental procedure up there.
The plates were incubated for 48 hours in my warm incubator (about 90 degrees F).
In case you are new to looking at agar plates, let me explain. The whitish dots you see are colonies (or piles) of millions of bacteria. Not every kind of bacteria can grow on these agar plates and viruses do not grow on these plates. So, just because a plate looks clean, doesn't necessarily mean that no germs whatsoever were present. I will never say that a product killed all of the germs. All we can do from these experiments is to compare products. I'm comparing everything to 3% hydrogen peroxide which always works really well. Most cleaning products do not do well in these experiments because they can't handle so much dirt and germs. It is surprising how many products are supposed to be used on already clean surfaces. Some products that don't do well in these experiments, might still do a good enough job on your only slightly germy countertop.
Pyoure is a non-toxic hydrogen peroxide based cleaner with essential oils and organic sufractants. Unlike plain hydrogen peroxide, the sufractants help it cut through grease and grime and the essential oils make it smell heavenly. It comes in several glorious scents. I was sent this product to test by the mom inventor of the product. It comes in a 7% hydrogen peroxide solution and you dilute it 1:4 with water to use. The final concentration of the diluted solution is 1.4% hydrogen peroxide. I tested 2 different bottles of Pyoure, the Bamboo Verbena and the White Tea. Both smelled fantastic.
The concentrated Pyoure did perfectly which is not surprising since it is 7% hydrogen peroxide. The diluted Pyoure (which is 1.4% hydrogen peroxide) left a few colonies but did much better than most products that I test. You can see that it did much better than the Purell Surface. These countertop experiments are so full of dirt and germs that very few products look good in these experiments. I also tested Pyoure on the normal dirty kitchen sink without artificial contamination so keep reading.
Betadine and Hibiclens
Hibiclens is a surgical hand scrub containing Chlorhexidine gluconate. Betadine contains povidone-iodine and is for wound care.
In both of these experiments, the Hibiclens did a fantastic job. Hibiclens is obviously a powerful germ-killer. I'm not impressed with Betadine.
Thieves and doTerra
I'm not impressed with the diluted Thieves cleaner or diluted doTerra cleaner in these experiments. I diluted the Thieves 1:15 like the bottle recommends. I put 1 tablespoon of the doTerra cleaner in 8 ounces of water like the bottle says. Please remember that most cleaners don't do well in these experiments. I will test them on a real kitchen sink without artificial contamination to see how they do. Lots of products that don't do well in this experiment, still do okay on the kitchen sink.
For the above experiment, I did not dilute the Thieves cleaner or the doTerra cleaner. As you can see, the full strength concentrated products do much better.
Force of Nature and H20 at Home
Force of Nature is a system that you buy that allows you to produce your own electrolyzed water for cleaning. It is basically a solution of hypochlorous acid and sodium hydroxide. I did not buy the system. A website viewer who owns the system sent me a sample of the Force of Nature electrolyzed water that she had made. She made the water on Nov. 29, 2016 and all of my experiments were done within 2 weeks of production. The company says that the electrolyzed water is good for 2 weeks. So, keep in mind that my experiments were all done with ONE batch of electrolyzed water. If anyone else wants to send me some of their Force of Nature water or if the company wants to send me a system, I'm happy to repeat my experiments to confirm.
Honest Company and Better Life
As you can see, none of the Better Life products or the Honest Company multipurpose cleaner showed any significant bacteria killing in this experiment. None of those cleaners CLAIM to kill any germs either. However, I will be testing them for their bacteria killing ability on a normal dirty kitchen sink. So, check back for those results. I have to say that I love the Better Life Products. The multipurpose spray smells wonderful and is great for removing grime off the countertops and stovetop even though it probably doesn't kill many germs. I've used MANY bottles of the floor cleaner already over the last few months. I really like it. The Better Life Stainless Steel Polish is so fabulous that I will never buy another stainless steel cleaner ever.
Citurs II and Purell Surface
Citrus II seemed to do a little better than Purell Surface. Purell Surface is a product advertised to be safe for food contact surface and its active ingredient is ethanol. I've learned from my experiments that most alcohol products don't do well in the presence of actual dirt. So, Purell Surface might be fine on relatively clean kitchen countertops. I will be testing it in the sink experiment.
BioProtect Clean and Seal
BioProtect Clean and Seal is a benzalkonium chloride based cleaning product specifically designed to kill germs and help prevent mold and mildew growth. It is supposed to leave a coating that stays on for a while. I have not tested its longevity, but it is certainly a strong bacteria-killer in these experiments.
The Lemongrass spa aromatherapy spray did not do well but the Lemongrass spa hand soap did quite well.
Blue Dawn Dish Soap, Norwex Dish Soap, and Lemongrass Spa hand soap
I also tested blue dawn dish soap, Norwex dish soap, and some Lemongrass Spa hand soap that a viewer sent me. I used .5mL of the undiluted soaps in each experiment. The Blue dawn and the Norwex probably had some germ killing ability. The Lemongrass Spa hand soap seemed to do better. I think I'll put the rest of that hand soap in my guest bathroom now.
I also tested plain salt water. I mixed 1/2 tablespoon of table salt into 1/2 cup of water. Then I used .5mL of this mixture in the experiment. It sat for 5 minutes like everything else. I did not notice any significant germ killng. Maybe next time I'll use more salt and see what happens.
Franks Hot Sauce
My little Michael was helping me think of experiments and begged to test Franks hot sauce. So, we did. I really thought it would do better killing bacteria. Well, I guess that is why my beloved buffalo chicken dip does go bad if it sits out too long.
Essential Oxygen 3% Hydrogen Peroxide
Essential Oxygen is a food grade hydrogen peroxide with supposedly safer stabilizers than the cheap stuff. I have already tested this product and it was great. However, I had a bottle of it that I opened AT LEAST 6 months ago and I wanted to see if it was still good. Of course, I had kept the cap on tightly, but I used it a few times.
Many cleaning products are not strong enough to do well in my countertop experiments with dirt and lots of germs. So, I also like to test everything in a real life situation, the kitchen sink. Any cleaner that we expect to kill germs, should be able to kill germs in my kitchen sink experiments. To do these experiments, I use my neighbors' kitchen sinks. They don't disinfect their sinks very often so they are usually germy enough for me to do a good experiment. I can only do one experiment per week per kitchen sink because there needs to be time for plenty of bacteria to grow again. So, these experiments take some time. I have not done all of the products yet. Check back for more results.
First I rinse off the sinks so there is no food debris stuck on them. Then I swab both sides of the dirty sink and rub the swabs onto agar plates. Then I spray the product all over one side of the sink. I usually use at least 20 sprays to fully cover that side of the sink. The other side is the control and I spray that side with 3% hydrogen peroxide because that always seems to generate very clean results. So, all of these products are being compared the 3% hydrogen peroxide's ability to kill bacteria in the sink.
Force of Nature in the sink
Force of Nature did not appear to do much in my countertop experiments with lots of dirt and lots of bacteria. However, Force of Nature definitely demonstrated significant bacteria-killing power in the sink experiments. Kelly's sink wasn't perfectly clean after Force of Nature but there was a very noticeable decrease in the amount of bacteria. Jennifer's sink looked perfectly clean. Now, I used a TON of Force of nature on these sinks. I had a tiny bottle which produced small sprays. I sprayed the sinks about 100 times with the Force of nature compared to about 25 sprays of the 3% hydrogen peroxide. No matter what you use to disinfect your sink, you need to use a lot of it to fully cover the sink. It is only going to kill germs where it touches. The Force of Nature website claims that it kills germs as well as bleach. That can be true depending on the concentration of bleach. Does it kill germs as well as a 10% chlorine bleach solution? No. Does it kill germs as well as Clorox Anywhere spray? It probably does better. The Force of Nature results seem similar to the results I got with the Clean Smart cleaner which is also hypchlorous acid. Force of Nature is safe for so many surfaces that hydrogen peroxide would bleach, so I do think it is a good choice for cleaning your kitchen countertops.
Pyoure in the sink
I also tested the diluted Pyoure in sink experiments. I used 20 sprays of each. The 1:4 dilution of Pyoure left some colonies of bacteria but still had significant bacteria-killing power. I think the Pyoure is a fabulous product, but I would not do the full 1:4 dilution when using it to disinfect places like sinks. I'll try diluting it less in a sink experiment to see if I can get results as good as regular 3% hydrogen peroxide.
Purell Surface in the sink
For these experiments, I used 25 sprays of Purell Surface disinfectant on one side of the sink and 25 sprays of 3% hydrogen peroxide on the other side of the sink. I let them sit for 5 minutes and then swabbed.
As you can see, the Purell Surface worked well, but did not kill quite as much bacteria as the 3% hydrogen peroxide. Since it didn't do well at all in my countertop experiments with dirt, we know that Purell Surface is a product that only works on a pretty clean surface. The instructions also say that it needs to be used on a clean surface. Purell Surface is advertised to kill the norovirus surrogate in 30 seconds which is great. However, we can tell that it will only kill that norovirus if the surface is already super clean. Purell Surface is mostly ethanol and makes me cough a lot using it.
Better Life Multipurpose in the sink
For these sink experiments, I sprayed 25 sprays of the Better Life multipurpose cleaner in one side of the sink, and 25 sprays of 3% hydrogen peroxide in the other side. The cleaners sat on the sink for 5 minutes and then I swabbed.
doTerra On Guard cleaner in the sink
For these sink experiments, I used my neighbor's sinks. Their sinks had not been disinfected for about 1 week. The sinks looked visibly clean. I rinsed the sinks off with water to remove any food debris before I started. Then I swabbed each side of the sink and rubbed the swabs on agar plates for the dirty controls. I diluted the ON Guard cleaner concentrate by adding 1 tablespoon of the cleaner concentrate into slightly less than 8 ounces of water. The final volume was 1 cup of diluted On Guard cleaner. I put it in a spray bottle and sprayed one side of the sink with 30 sprays of the diluted ON Guard cleaner and let it sit for 5 minutes. I sprayed 30 sprays of 3% hydrogen peroxide to the other side of the sink and let that sit for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, I swabbed both sides of the sink again, and rubbed the swabs onto agar plates. The plates were incubated in my warm incubator for 48 hours.
As you can see from the results, I did not detect any significant bacteria killing ability from the diluted On Guard cleaner. It smells wonderful, though, and does a good job removing grease and grime from the countertops. I wouldn't depend on it for disinfecting. The bottle does not say anything about germ-killing either. Plain white vinegar seemed to kill more bacteria in my sink experiments than this On Guard cleaner.
Thieves Cleaner in the sink
Just like for the On Guard experiments, I used my neighbor's sinks. Their sinks had not been disinfected for about 1 week. The sinks looked visibly clean. I rinsed the sinks off with water to remove any food debris before I started. Then I swabbed each side of the sink and rubbed the swabs on agar plates for the dirty controls. I diluted the Thieves cleaner concentrate by adding 1 tablespoon of the cleaner concentrate into slightly less than 8 ounces of water. The final volume was 1 cup of diluted Thieves cleaner. I put it in a spray bottle and sprayed one side of the sink with 30 sprays of the diluted Thieves cleaner and let it sit for 5 minutes. I sprayed 30 sprays of 3% hydrogen peroxide to the other side of the sink and let that sit for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, I swabbed both sides of the sink again, and rubbed the swabs onto agar plates. The plates were incubated in my warm incubator for 48 hours.
As you can see, the Thieves cleaner did not have any striking bacteria killing ability. The bottle does not mention germ-killing either. It smells wonderful, though. I wouldn't rely on it for disinfecting. Plain white vinegar seemed to kill more bacteria in my sink experiments than this thieves cleaner.
Honest Company Multipurpose in the sink
coming in February
Citrus II in the sink
coming in February
I have been using regular 3% hydrogen peroxide for my regular household cleaning of countertops and toilets for a year now ever since I discovered how well it kills bacteria and doesn't produce any fumes. However, I've always tested all my cleaning products for 5 minutes. However, when I use it, I often spray it on and wipe it off pretty fast. So, I decided to test how long it takes hydrogen peroxide to work. I did the experiment on the countertop just like I always do. I put .5mL of 3% hydrogen peroxide onto each dirty countertop square. Then I let them sit for 5 minutes, 1 minute, or about 10 seconds. I put the hydrogen peroxide on the square, spread it around, and then set the timer for 1 minute and 5 minutes. For the "10 second" square, I spread the hydrogen peroxide around and immediately swabbed. That all might have taken closer to 20 seconds but I did it as fast as I could.
It certainly seems like the hydrogen peroxide works really fast! However, the truth is, the hydrogen peroxide is still with the bacteria after I swab it so I can't be sure if the bacteria dies immediately or sometime later.
After doing some of these kitchen sink experiments, people asked me if I really NEED to use 30 sprays of hydrogen peroxide and what happens if you spray and then immediately wipe. So, I compared a 1 minute wash of the sink with a cotton washcloth and just water to spraying the sink with 10 sprays of 3% hydrogen peroxide followed immediately by a 1 minute scrub with a cotton washcloth.
As you can see in both of these experiments, spraying with 10 sprays of hydrogen peroxide and then immediately wiping was NOT nearly as effective as letting the hydrogen peroxide sit. I was very surprised. I guess most of the hydrogen peroxide was absorbed into the already wet washcloth.
Then I decided to compare spraying one side of the sink with 30 sprays of 3% hydrogen peroxide and the other side with just 10 sprays of 3% hydrogen peroxide. I let them sit for 5 minutes and swabbed.
As you can see, the 10 sprays did just as well as the 30 sprays. However, the hydrogen peroxide will only kill the germs where it touches. So, the sink (or whatever you are cleaning) needs to be fully covered. When I swab the sink, I am essentially spreading the hydrogen peroxide around. So, if there was a spot that was missed when I sprayed, it would possibly get covered with hydrogen peroxide when I move the swab. So, to sum up, 3% hydrogen peroxide is my favorite disinfectant for the kitchen sink. Use plenty to cover the sink and then don't wipe it off, just let it sit.
I have tested the Essential Oxygen food grade hydrogen peroxide in my countertop experiments and it does great killing bacteria!
3% hydrogen peroxide is not sold to be a cleaning product. The bottle says that it is for wound cleaning or mouthwash. I was hoping that since it is okay to put on wounds and in your mouth, that cleaning with it wouldn't harm you. However, it is a very strong germ killer, and I would not recommend assuming that it is harmless. Yes, hydrogen peroxide eventually turns to oxygen and water but before that it produces the hydroxyl free radical which is what does the damage to the germs. The hydroxyl free radical can also damage you. I would not put it on cuts or in your mouth unless your doctor or dentist tells you that you really need to use it for an infection. Do not drink it. Do not spray it in your nose. Try not to breath the vapors. I wear gloves when I'm cleaning with it because it is very drying to the skin. A website viewer wrote to me and is certain that at age 24, she completely and permanently lost her sense of smell after using hydrogen peroxide to clean for 1 month. I'm not sure if she was using a normal amount or really coated her entire house. I spray off my toilets every day with 3% hydrogen peroxide. I clean the bathroom countertops with hydrogen peroxide 2-3 times a week. I spray out the bathtub with hydrogen peroxide once a week. I spray out the kitchen sink with hydrogen peroxide 2-3 times a week after raw chicken was in there. I still have a good sense of smell. However, I am not a medical doctor. Feel free to ask your doctor if it is safe to clean with hydrogen peroxide. 3% hydrogen peroxide can fade countertops and wood or dark floors over time.
Many essential oil fans have asked me if a drop of essential oils can be added to the bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide to make their cleaning smell better. I decided to test it along with the test of how long a bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide is good. I put about 3 drops of Thieves oil into a new bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide. I also put about 3 drops of lavender oil into another new bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide. I also opened a new bottle of hydrogen peroxide, used a little, and put the lid back on. I let these bottles sit for about a month.
Then I did the same experiment that I always do. I made germ water with dirt from the back yard and bacteria scraped from a previous days "dirty hands" plate. I put 1mL of germ water onto each square on my countertop. I rubbed the germ water all around the squares and let them dry. Then I added .5 mL of each product onto the appropriate square. I spread them around to completely cover the square and set a timer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, I swabbed each square and rubbed the swabs onto an agar plate. The plates were incubated for 24 hours in my warm incubator.
As you can see, the 1 month old bottles of hydrogen peroxide all did great! The addition of the Thieves and Lavender did not appear to hurt the ability of the hydrogen peroxide to kill germs.
I had also done this experiment a month earlier comparing pure 3 % hydrogen peroxide, 3% hydrogen peroxide with a few drops of Thieves oil, and pure Young Living Thieves oil (.5mL of each thing). In this case, the Thieves had only been in the hydrogen peroxide for 18 hours before the experiment. As you can see, the hydrogen peroxide still killed bacteria well even with the Thieves added.
It is important to remember that I kept the caps on tightly the entire time the hydrogen peroxide was stored. So, it might not be good if you leave the cap off all day. I make it a point not to tell people to "mix chemicals". I don't know for sure that no crazy or harmful reaction is taking place between some component of the essential oil and the hydrogen peroxide. However, I didn't die breathing them, and they all still smelled good after a month. So, you can make your own decision about that.
I also found these travel sized bottles of 3% hydrogen peroxide. I bought one and tested it. It worked great killing bacteria. You can refill them.
I have already shown that the Norwex cloths don't posses any significant bacteria killing ability. I have already shown that boiling for 10 minutes is the best way to sterilize ANY cloth. All of those experiments are on my NORWEX PAGE. However, I still wanted to know if the Norwex is better and picking up germs off a surface than other cloths and wipes. I have always loved cleaning with my Norwex and e-cloths and I wondered if they were really doing a better job. So, I did an experiment where I wiped dirt and germs off my countertop. Then I compared how much bacteria was left.
First, I boiled the cotton washcloth and the Norwex cloth for 10 minutes to make sure that I was starting with sterile cloths. I let them cool fully. Then, I made germ water by taking a scoop of mud from the back yard and mixed it in sterile water. I filtered that through paper towel to remove chunks. Then I scrapped colonies of bacteria off of an agar plate from a previous days "dirty hands" experiment. I mixed it all up. This germ water contained a lot of dirt and bacteria.
I used masking tape to section off squares on my kitchen countertop and put 1mL of the germ water into each square using a sterile 1mL syringe.
Then I rubbed the germ water all around the square and let it completely dry which took about 2 hours.
Once dry, I added .5mL of sterile water to the dirty control square, rubbed it around, and swabbed it with a sterile swab.
I rubbed the swab all around on a sterile agar plate. I also took a swab of the clean control square.
Now for the fun part. After practicing my wiping technique on a different area of the counter with a different practice cloth, I thoroughly wiped each square with the respective product. These were very dirty squares, and I wiped them 8 times. That means 8 passes. I wiped up and down 4 times, then flipped the cloth over and wiped 4 more times.
I tested the regular Clorox wipe. After wiping 8 times, I swabbed the square and rubbed the swab onto an agar plate. Then I waited 3 minutes because the wipes say they need time for the chemicals to kill the bacteria, and then I swabbed the square again.
I tested Bounty paper towel that I got a little wet with water. After wiping 8 times, I swabbed the square with a sterile swab and rubbed it onto an agar plate.
I tested a cotton washcloth wet with warm tap water and thoroughly rung out. After wiping 8 times, I swabbed the square and rubbed the swab onto an agar plate.
Then I tested the Norwex Envirocloth. I fully wet the cloth with warm tap water and thoroughly rung it out. After I wiped 8 times, I swabbed the square and rubbed the swab onto an agar plate.
All the plates were incubated overnight in my warm incubator. I did the entire experiment on 2 different days.
Most of us have assumed that we don't really need cleaners to KILL germs. We can just wash them off with soap and water, right? This is a picture of my mother washing my kitchen sink. She loves to scrub out sinks and does it whenever she visits any of her children. You can always count on my mom to do the dishes, wipe up, and scrub out the sink whenever she visits. She can't cook, but she sure can clean up! She doesn't use any cleaning chemicals. She just used Dawn dish soap and a cotton washcloth. But does that work as well as my beloved hydrogen peroxide?
I have already established in my above experiments that it is difficult to wipe off all germs. I have also already tested many cleaning products on my kitchen sink and those results are scattered throughout this page. Here I set out to determine if I could remove most of the bacteria by just washing the kitchen sink really well with soap and water. For these experiments, I tested my kitchen sink and my neighbors' sinks. My sink usually didn't have enough bacteria to start with to get good results because I clean it too often. A sink needs to not be cleaned for a week before I can do an experiment in it. Luckily, my neighbors don't seem to sanitize their kitchen sinks very often and don't mind me doing experiments in them.
First, I rinse the sink with warm water to remove food debris. All of the sinks LOOKED clean to start. Then, I swabbed the dirty sink and rubbed the swab onto an agar plate. That plate would be the dirty control.
Then I put some blue Dawn dish soap onto a cotton washcloth (wet with warm water) and washed one half of the sink for 2 minutes.
Then I rinsed the sink with warm water for about 30 seconds. I did not use hot water because I wanted to test how well the washing removed germs, not how well the hot water would kill them. I can do that another time.
Next I swabbed the cleaned sink and rubbed the swab onto an agar plate. (I did not dry the sink.)
Then I sprayed 30-40 sprays of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide onto the other side of the sink, let it sit for 5 minutes, swabbed that side, and rubbed the swab onto an agar plate. I do not wipe or wash when I use hydrogen peroxide. I just spray it on, let it sit, and then swab it. I realize that is a lot of hydrogen peroxide, but it takes that many sprays to completely cover the sink since I don't wipe it or spread it around at all. If I miss a spot, that will mean live bacteria on the agar plate. However, when you clean with hydrogen peroxide, you can use less as long as you spread it around to completely cover the surface. I don't wipe it for these experiments because I don't want the "wiping action" to contribute to the germ-killing.
Here are the results when my mom cleaned my sink. She only scrubbed for 1 minute, though.
As you can see, kitchen sinks are generally pretty germy and it is a lot harder than I thought to wash the germs off of the sink. I am going to continue spraying my sink with 3 percent hydrogen peroxide. If you don't want to sanitize your sink every few days, that is probably ok as long as you don't eat out of the kitchen sink or prepare fresh food in it. Don't wash lettuce directly in your kitchen sink or eat a strawberry that fell into your sink.
After the previous experiments where it appeared that washing with blue Dawn did not remove much bacteria, I wanted to compare washing with blue Dawn to washing with just a wet cotton washcloth. For these experiments, I used identical 100% cotton washcloths (Target Threshold brand which I love). The cloths were wet with tap water. One cloth had 1 teaspoon of blue Dawn on it.
I swabbed each side of the sink separately so there were 2 dirty controls.
Then I washed one side with the washcloth with blue Dawn for 2 minutes. (That is much longer than anyone would normally wash their sink.)
Then I rinsed the sink for about 20 seconds with warm water.
Then I swabbed the "clean" sink and rubbed the swab onto an agar plate.
Then I washed the other side of the sink for 2 minutes with just the wet cloth with no soap at all. I rinsed it for about 20 seconds with warm water and swabbed that side. The plates were incubated for about 48 hours in my warm incubator.
I was stunned that sometimes my washcloth with just water sink turned out cleaner than the sink I washed with Dawn! I repeated the experiments several times and that didn't always happen. Sometimes the cloth with water and the cloth with blue Dawn did about the same.
How could the washcloth with just water do about as good or better than a washcloth with blue Dawn? I even swabbed my blue Dawn itself to make sure it wasn't growing bacteria. It wasn't.
My best GUESS as to why the washcloth with water removed bacteria better than the washcloth with Dawn is FRICTION. There was a lot more friction generated when I washed the sink with just the washcloth and water. The bubbly Dawn acts as a lubricant making washing out the sink easier with less friction. I repeated the experiments pressing as hard as I possibly could with the washcloth and Dawn combination to increase the friction.
I think the take-away-message here is that it is very difficult to wash all of the germs out of your sink. Pressure and friction are probably more important than detergent. However, I have only tested one kind of dish washing detergent and one kind of cloth. I have many more experiments to do! I want to test different soaps and different cloths. I scratch pad might work much better. This is a great experimental set-up for me to test other soaps and even hand soaps. I have not been able to test different soaps on actual hands because our skin is so full of bacteria that no matter how long you wash a hand, there is still bacteria on the agar plate. I will be testing Thieves dish soap, Norwex dish soap, castile soap, soft soap and others that you all tell me that I should test. If any soap does a better job washing germs off the sink, I'll be switching to that one. Feel free to e-mail me your soap suggestions. phd.annie at gmail.com. Also, please like my facebook page if you want to be alerted when new results are posted.
I don't want anyone getting the wrong idea and thinking that my house is squeaky clean. I intend to wash the kitchen floor every 2 weeks but it actually only happens every 3-4 weeks. I intend to vacuum once a week, but that only really happens every two-three weeks, too. Right now there are crumbs, grass, sand, small rocks, and play doh pieces on my kitchen floor. I wipe off my kitchen counters and table with just a wet washcloth throughout the day. I wipe out the sink and spray the sink with hydrogen peroxide at night and after handling raw meat. The only things that are always SPOTLESS in my house are the toilets. (Because I know what is IMPORTANT to keep clean.) I spray the toilets down with hydrogen peroxide and grab a handful of toilet paper and wipe them off every single day at least once. We have lots of neighbor kids over so I wipe down the guest room toilet, sink, and put out a clean hand towel a few times each day. It doesn't really matter if your floors are spotless (that is more important if you have a crawling baby) but almost every nasty germ including stomach viruses, influenza, salmonella and e.coli is shed in feces. So, keep those toilets clean! They should not have any pee spots, poop splatters or poop dust on them! I am also a stickler for hand washing. The house rule is that everyone (including friends who visit) have to take off shoes and wash hands when they come in the house from anywhere. Hand washing after using the bathroom is also strictly enforced.
Here is a swab I took of my kitchen sink at the end of the day after dirty dishes had been sitting in there for most of the day.
A LOT of bacteria grew.
Then I swabbed the sink 5 minutes after I sprayed the heck out of it with my 3% hydrogen peroxide. No bacteria grew!
As you know, I spray my toilets down with 3% hydrogen peroxide at least once a day. I took a swab of the toilet seat a few hours after the last time I cleaned it.
No bacteria grew! These results are most likely only true for MY toilet seats and anyone else who cleans them like I do. Most people's toilet seats will have LOTS of germs.
Here is a swab of a friend's toilet. This is a "normal" toilet that I see at most people's houses.
Even though the toilet didn't look too bad, it was full of germs! Wipe off your toilets, people! Every Single Day!
Here is a swab of my kitchen floor that I hadn't washed for at least 2 weeks:
Here is a swab of the bottom of my son's shoe after school:
Yuck. We really should always remember to take shoes off.
Here is a swab of the highly used door knob leading out to the garage that I hadn't sanitized for at least a month:
It is surprisingly clean.
How much bacteria is in a dollar bill?
How much bacteria are on coins?
Quarters are surprisingly clean. However, I thought it was because silver is known to have anti-microbial properties. However, I've also heard that quarters don't actually contain silver anymore so I'm not sure.
How much bacteria is on pennies?
Pennies are surprisingly clean, too. Copper is also known to have anti-microbial properties. I guess when you find a penny, you CAN pick it up.
Here is a repeat of the coin experiment using different pennies and quarters.
We all know that the world is not a sterile place. There is lots of good and bad bacteria in and around us all the time. Besides the toilet seats at MY HOUSE, I just wondered if ANYTHING is really clean and free of bacteria. So, I tested a few things. I bought a new package of underwear from Walmart. (Yes, those are my underwear, much to my husband's dismay.)
I put 1mL of sterile water onto one pair.
Then I dabbed that pair of underwear onto an agar plate.
Nothing grew. Those new underwear were virtually free of bacteria. (Unless there was bacteria present that won't grow on this type of agar plate.)
I also tested some disposable Kleenex Hand Towels.
So, this means that there are some clean things in the world.3% Hydrogen Peroxide. I use one of the wonderful smelling products that I've tested like the Better Life Cleaner to wipe up dirt, grease, and grime from the kitchen countertops. Then I use the 3% hydrogen peroxide to disinfect.
I like 3% hydrogen peroxide because it produces no odor, does a great job killing bacteria, and is inexpensive. After I clean a bathroom with chlorine bleach, I think I'm going to die from the horrible fumes. Cleaning with 3% hydrogen peroxide does not bother me at all. 3% hydrogen peroxide is not sold to be a cleaning product. The bottle says that it is for wound cleaning or mouthwash. I am hoping that since it is okay to put on wounds and in your mouth, that cleaning with it won't harm you. However, it is a very strong oxidizing agent, and I would not recommend assuming that it is harmless. Yes, hydrogen peroxide eventually turns to oxygen and water, but before that it produces the hydroxyl free radical which is what does the damage to the germs. The hydroxyl free radical can also damage you. It also contains some sort of "stabilizer" chemical, and I don't know what that is or if that is dangerous. I would hope, since hydrogen peroxide is advertised to be used as mouthwash, that the stabilizer won't hurt us. But you never know. There is also Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide available with a supposedly safe stabilizer. I usually use the inexpensive brown spray bottles of 3% hydrogen peroxide from the bandage aisle at Walmart. Hydrogen peroxide is unstable and shouldn't be exposed to light so keep it in the brown bottle it comes in. You can put a sprayer on top. I would not put hydrogen peroxide on cuts or in your mouth unless your doctor or dentist tells you that you really need to use it for an infection. Do not drink it. If you swallow a mouthful, you will likely throw up. Do not spray it in your nose. Try not to breath the vapors. Don't get it in your eyes. I wear gloves when I'm cleaning with it because it is very drying to the skin. Hydrogen peroxide will turn your skin white briefly if you get it on you. A website viewer wrote to me and is certain that at age 24, she completely and permanently lost her sense of smell after using hydrogen peroxide to clean for 1 month. I'm not sure if she was using a normal amount or really coated her entire house. I spray off my toilets every day with 3% hydrogen peroxide. I clean the bathroom countertops with hydrogen peroxide 2-3 times a week. I spray out the bathtub with hydrogen peroxide once a week. I spray out the kitchen sink with hydrogen peroxide 2-3 times a week after raw chicken was in there. I have been doing this for 2 years and still have a good sense of smell. However, I am not a medical doctor. Feel free to ask your doctor if it is safe to clean with hydrogen peroxide. I will be very upset if I lose my sense of smell.
Since hydrogen peroxide is not advertised to be used as a cleaner, I don't know what surfaces it is safe to use it on. I don't know if it can be used on your granite countertop. 3% hydrogen peroxide has faded my gray countertop right around my kitchen sink. I think that is because the spray sits there for hours when I spray out my sink. However, it is amazing that there are no faded spots on my big island countertop that I do all of these experiments on. So, leaving the hydrogen peroxide sit for 5 minutes on the countertop does not fade mine. It has also faded the wood floor around my toilet which I spray off every day. Some of the spray lands on the floor, and I never wiped it off. I've used hydrogen peroxide to disinfect my wood floor after the dog threw up on it. Letting it sit on my wood floor for 5 minutes did not fade the floor at all. It seems that hydrogen peroxide is more likely to fade an area after repeated use and sitting for a long time until it is dry. I have never had it bleach my carpet or clothing. However, my father is certain hydrogen peroxide made a white spot on one of his cotton knit polo shirts. So, do be careful with it.
I cannot guarantee that hydrogen peroxide will kill ALL bad bacteria and viruses. There are probably plenty of germs that the 3% hydrogen peroxide won't kill. Here is a research paper stating that 3% hydrogen peroxide is good for killing salmonella and e.coli. However, other research shows that it is NOT good for killing norovirus. (That is why I recommend keeping chlorine bleach or the Clorox Hydrogen Peroxide products on hand for emergencies when someone is throwing up. Those products have been tested and proven to kill norovirus surrogates.)
For my fake wood floor, I use a 25% white vinegar solution in water and a microfiber mop. I started using the Better Life Floor cleaner since I tested it, and I like that a lot, too. It smells so good compared to plain vinegar. No, my floors aren't perfectly sterile, but I don't think they need to be. I dust with my e-cloths. Of course, when someone has a stomach virus, I recommend getting out the bleach or the Clorox Hydrogen Peroxide wipes and Spray.
I have many more experiments to do! If you would like to suggest a product or experiment, please e-mail me email@example.com. If you would like to be informed when new results are posted, please like my facebook page. I always post on there when new results are up. If you would like to help support my work, please use my Amazon links when you shop on amazon. I have an Amazon affiliate account. If you use any of my Amazon links when you shop on Amazon, I get a small percentage of the sale. For example, you can click to Amazon using the link for my daughter's book and buy something. It doesn't matter what you buy, but I will get a small percentage of the sale. I use that Amazon money to buy agar plates and all the supplies that I need to do these experiments. If you don't want to bother using amazon links, you are welcome to send me a small donation through paypal. If you really want to brighten my day, please buy one of my daughter's books. They are excellent! If you don't have a little girl to give them to, buy a copy for your local elementary school library or children's hospital.
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Lastly, before you leave, please brush up on your knowledge of stomach bugs so you can help decrease their spread by reading this page of my website. Thank you!
--Annie Pryor, Ph.D
phd.annie at gmail.com