cleaning products resting on a tile floor
Photo: Alexandra Bandon
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Examine Product Claims Closely

There's a lot of goods that tout themselves as "anti-bacterial" on the label, from floor tile and paint, to hand cleanser and magic markers. The Environmental Protection Agency has a list of 500 products that disinfect hard, non-porous, surfaces against flu. It includes common household cleaners such as Pin Sol, Clorox, and Lysol. Look for the word "disinfect" or "sanitize" on the label; that means the EPA has tested and approved its germ killing power.

Some alternatives such as lemon juice, tea tree oil, oregano oil, or lavender oil have properties that kill microbes. But according to University of Arizona microbiologist Charles Gerba, these natural alternatives often work more slowly, impact a smaller spectrum of microorganisms, and kill fewer of them than products that have passed muster with the EPA.
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