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With the start of the new semester, I am resuming my What I Learned series. Should be an interesting array of topics: All of the ways ancient Latin and Greek are similar, thanks to second semester Greek and a 1/4 credit Latin component to a history class. Ethics and religion. Running and Jogging. And, my favorite, all about microorganisms thanks to my microbiology class.
The past two weeks have just been an introduction to microbiology and learning about the structure of bacteria. Part of this was learning about the bacterial cell wall and the differences between gram negative and gram positive.
“This disinfectant kills 99.9% of germs”
Great claim, right? Well, maybe not. See, bacteria generally fit into two categories: gram negative and gram positive. There are many more types of categories of bacteria, but this one refers to the cell wall and how they can be stained. Gram positive cell walls contain more peptioglycan, a polymer of protein and sugar, than gram negative, which have more lipids (fats) in the cell wall. Because of this difference, these two bacterias react to antibiotics and disinfectants differently. Gram positive bacteria are more susceptible to penicillin, while gram negative bacteria are more susceptible to standard disinfectants. What does this mean? It means that when bottles of disinfectant claim to kill 99.9% of germs, they are, well…lying. They only kill 99.9% of gram negative bacteria. The scary part? Most food poisoning is caused by gram positive bacteria.
So what do we do?
I already try to avoid those types of cleaners for multiple reasons. One is that there are many harsh chemicals that I don’t feel comfortable having in my home. Another is that I don’t believe that it is good for our health to kill all the organisms around us. For one, antibiotic resistant bacteria is a very real and scary problem right now. And now I have yet another reason to keep these disinfectants out of my home! Luckily there are many options available to keep your home clean. Simple soap and hot water is great for killing these harmful bacteria and their spores. Vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and essential oils make great all purpose disinfectant, such as in the following recipes:
- Spray hydrogen peroxide, followed by vinegar onto the surface, let sit for 5 minutes, then wipe up
- 1:1 mix of vinegar and water for an all purpose cleaner
- Add 10-20 drops melaleuca (aka tea tree), lemon, and/or a Protective Blend of essential oils (buy here) to a spray bottle of either water or water and vinegar. These essential oils are antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antiviral. Let sit for 5-10 minutes and then wipe up.
Looking for more? Get your spring clean on with DIY Non Toxic Cleaning Recipes.
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