Why is it fine to wash my hands with hot soapy water but I must wash and then disinfect hard surfaces?


Without stepping deeply into current events, I’d love some answers!

I spent the day cleaning (as I suspect many others did as well).

For personal hygiene, the guidance is to wash hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds. Soap is effective, especially when used well. I get that.

However, there’s lots of mixed information about the best way to clean hard surfaces like countertops and doorknobs.

If I simply scrub and rinse those surfaces with a soapy solution, would they somehow be less clean than if I scrubbed them and then disinfected with a bleach solution, peroxide, or some other disinfectant?

Just trying to stay clean and safe over here… thanks!

In: Other

Bleach is not safe to wash your hands with regularly. However it is sage to use on surfaces. It is the ultimate cleaner. So if you can, why bit use bleach. Where as with the human body, soap is the best we’ve got

Soap and water will work fine for your hard surfaces. But good luck with that. It’s hard to wipe up all the water and soapy residue. You use it for your hands and body because you have designated places to rinse them under running water where that water instantly goes away.

Disinfectant cleaning products are a lot more convenient for things that aren’t in your sink.

The most efficient way to get rid of things is burn it. But that is rarely an option.

So then we use less effective but still very good. Bleach, alcohol, these things work almost as good as fire, and won’t damage many surfaces.

But bleach or alcohol on our body can hurt us, so then the next best thing is soap, which is mostly a mechanical action to wash things away.

And to add to this, soap itself can be very destructive to us too, since one component is lye, and that’s worse than bleach on our skin. But it is in small quantities in the soap we use.

Soap and water trap and remove contaminants. Thus you can clean your hands by extended scrubbing without a disinfectant. Getting a massive hard surface soapy enough and scrubbing it enough would take forever, and you cant easily rinse it off without leaving some residue. Thus you want to kill whatever is on a counter rather than trying to remove it.

Soap molecules are made up of two parts, a head that binds to water and a tail that hates it. The tail end of the molecule will try and dig its way into any particle it can find, such as dirt, grime, and yes even germs. Once the tail has bound to the molecule, it’s washed away with the water since it reduces the surface tension, or makes the water flow more. In other words, soap works because it washes away. You could theoretically wash your surfaces with soap and water, but you’d need a place to drain it away, so it’s better to just disinfect instead.

Soap and water is fine for hard surfaces. In fact, a lot of disinfectants do a poor job sanitizing surfaces if the surfaces haven’t already been scrubbed beforehand. The scrubbing with soap takes off most of the stuff that holds bacteria there, the disinfectants kill anything that got left behind. Surfaces are also more forgiving with harsh cleaners than hands. As others have said already, bleaching your hands constantly is gonna be a bad time.