How to Kill Household Germs

Sanitize vs. Disinfect: Differences in Cleaning Methods

Sanitize vs. Disinfect: Differences in Cleaning Methods

When it comes to house cleaning, there really isn't a right or wrong way. However, it's important to know the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, sterilizing and disinfecting. Despite what you might be thinking,… Keep reading »

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Differing germs can last anywhere from minutes to days depending on the specific type. Knowing how to specifically kill household germs and sanitize your living space can help you maintain a clean environment, especially if there's an illness going around.

How Long Germs Live

Germs can live on surfaces and in the air for various amounts of time. Lifespans for germs will vary depending on the specific germ, as well as the surface it is housed on. Germs will also have different lifespans on your body versus other surfaces.

What Kills Germs Effectively

Knowing what kills certain germs can help you prepare if there's an outbreak and in generally keeping your living space clean. Cleaning products may require different techniques and certain precaution should be taken in using certain products if you have children or pets in your environment.


Windex is noted to effectively disinfect several types of viruses and bacteria. Windex is a common household cleaning product that can be purchased at your local grocery store or drugstore. Precaution should be taken if using Windex around pets or children.


Ammonia may be able to disinfect certain bacteria and viruses. Ammonia is a common ingredient in some household products. Ammonia can cause irritation if inhaled for too long, so be sure to read the label before opting to purchase to make sure it is the right choice for you.


Alcohol, including drinking alcohol, may be used to disinfect some bacteria and viruses. Alcohol is a common ingredient in hand sanitizer and cleaning products. Historically it has been used to disinfect wounds and sanitize certain medical equipment.

Using the Microwave

The heat from the microwave may be able to kill certain germs effectively. Many germs can be killed with sufficient heat and a certain exposure time to said heat. The amount of time it takes to kill certain germs will vary.

Hot Water

Boiling water can effectively kill some germs at 212 degrees Fahrenheit or 99.98 degrees Celsius, but specific temperatures will vary depending on the germ. In terms of hand washing, using hot water will not clean your hands significantly better than cold water, as it is not safe to wash your hands with water hot enough to kill germs.

Washing Machine and Dryer

Doing laundry can help kill germs as long as you run the cycle on hot and dry your clothing on high heat. Laundry that has been sitting for a while or is damp can harbor a lot of germs, so be sure to wash your hands properly after handling your belongings.


Washing your hands properly with soap is one of the best ways to prevent yourself from becoming infected with an illness. While soap doesn't kill germs, it does wash them away. Drying your hands helps prevent further spreading of germs, as bacteria tends to like a moist environment. Over-washing can also be detrimental as it's healthy to have some germs on your body.


Freezing may not be effective when it comes to killing some dangerous germs. Although this can slow down the spread of germs, once thawed, many germs are able to bounce back and spread.

Learning How to Kill Germs Effectively

Keeping your living space clean and sanitized can help in preventing germs from spreading from infected surfaces to an individual. Keep in mind children and pets when it comes to selecting the appropriate cleaning products.

How to Kill Household Germs