Best Way to Kill Flu Germs

There are lots of ways to wipe out flu microbes, but some of them could be unhealthy for your home.

By Emily Main


So What's the Best Choice?

Go with chlorine bleach. Ordinarily, we'd recommend avoiding chlorine bleach altogether, given its numerous health and environmental problems. However, when it comes to controlling flu, you're better off going with a dilute chlorine bleach solution than a premade disinfectant. Unlike other disinfectant products, when you mix a homemade bleach solution, you'll know exactly what's in it, and it only contains one ingredient, versus other cleaners that can include multiple unknown and potentially dangerous ingredients.

Here are ways to lessen its health and environmental impact when using chlorine bleach for wiping out flu germs:

Don't make it too concentrated. When you buy bleach, look for a concentration of 5 to 10 percent. You may find bleach products with higher concentrations, but these will raise your chances of experiencing respiratory and skin irritation.

Make the bottle last. Even though it's already at a 5 to 10 percent concentration, you don't need much bleach to kill the flu. Just one-quarter cup of bleach in a gallon of water, or one tablespoon per quart, if you need a smaller batch, is adequate to disinfect surfaces.

Keep it fresh. These bleach solutions have the most potency when mixed right before they're applied. If you have any left over, pour it out; you'll not only prevent accidental ingestion by pets or kids, you'll also kill more germs then next time you apply a fresh batch. (Chlorine breaks down quickly, so it’s not a threat to the environment.)

Never mix disinfectants. Never. Ever. Chlorine doesn't play well with others, and it could react with other unlisted ingredients, such as ammonia, in a commercial cleaner to form toxic fumes. Mixing cleaners is never a good idea, since you don't know what's in them (unless you make your own).