The definition of the word ‘disinfect’ is “to clean something, especially by using a chemical substance, so as to kill all viruses, bacteria and other microbes”. As important as soap is in its critical role of maintaining personal hygiene, in a post-disaster scenario disinfecting surfaces (particularly those surfaces used for food preparation and providing medical treatment) is equally important. The most common, best known and cost-effective disinfectant is household bleach.
NOTE: Hospitals and commercial kitchens routinely use bleach to disinfect surfaces and equipment.
While antibiotics can develop a resistance to antibiotics, the effects of bleach are so powerful (it totally destroys the cell walls of microbes) that there is no danger of microbes developing a resistance to the germ-killing effects of bleach.
Note that while the infamous MRSA bacteria is resistant to many antibiotics, it is readily destroyed by bleach. If the bacteria never lives to reach your body then infection can be avoided altogether.
Three important things to know about bleach are:
It loses its potency over time, losing as much as half its effectiveness every 6 months.
With calcium hypochlorite you can make your own bleach as needed (see my previous writing on calcium hypochlorite).
While bleach can be used to disinfect drinking water, it is important to be certain that the bleach has not been combined with other possibly harmful substances (if using commercially-manufactured bleach look at the list of ‘active ingredients’ on the container).
NOTE: Our book, “When There is No FEMA”, provides extensive details on making bleach, using it to disinfect surfaces and purify water, and even how to use it as part of a home defense strategy. You may preview and/or order our book at http://old.nofema.com/.