Claudann Jones Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Claudann Jones Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Germs are a part of everyday life. Some of them are helpful, but others are harmful and cause disease. They can be found everywhere — in our air, soil and water. They are on our skin and in our bodies. Germs are also on the surfaces and objects we touch. Sometimes those germs can spread to you and make you sick.

To avoid becoming infected by germs from surfaces and objects, it is important to wash your hands often. But you can’t wash your hands every time you touch something. So it’s also important to regularly clean and disinfect surfaces and objects. Some people think disinfecting is the same thing as cleaning or sanitizing. But they are actually different:

• Cleaning removes dirt, dust, crumbs and germs from surfaces or objects. When you clean, you will likely use soap and water to physically clean off the surfaces and objects. This may not necessarily kill the germs. But since you removed some of them, there are fewer germs that could spread infection to you.

• Disinfecting uses chemicals (bleach and alcohol solutions) to kill germs on surfaces and objects. You usually need to leave the disinfectant on the surfaces and objects for a certain period of time to kill the germs.

• Sanitizing could be done by either cleaning, disinfecting or both. Sanitizing means that you are lowering the number of germs to a safe level.

What is considered a safe level depends on public health standards or requirements at a workplace, school, etc. For example, there are sanitizing procedures for restaurants and other facilities that prepare food. What you do to sanitize will vary, depending on your needs.

If you both clean and disinfect a surface or object, you can further lower the risk of spreading infection. For more information, contact me, Claudann Jones, Smith County Extension Agent for Family and Community Health at 903-590-2980 or email at Like our Facebook page: Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service Smith County. Stay well and stay safe.

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