Some germs can survive for several days on household surfaces like kitchen work surfaces and sinks, and frequently touched surfaces like telephone handsets, door handles and light switches. It is important that you remove germs from these areas so they do not act as a source of contamination.

Cleaning Versus Disinfection

Cleaning and disinfecting are not the same thing. Cleaning means using detergent and water to remove dirt and some of the germs, whereas disinfecting means actually destroying the germs.

Cleaning Versus Disinfection

In some situations, (e.g. for small items such as cutlery and crockery), cleaning with detergent and water can remove sufficient germs, provided you can thoroughly clean all the surfaces and then rinse them with clean (preferably hot) running water, and then dry them properly. However, where proper rinsing is not possible (e.g. for large or fixed surfaces such as kitchen worktops, taps, toilet flush handles and door handles) it is important that you use a disinfectant or antibacterial multipurpose cleaner or cleanser to kill the germs, especially after handling raw food and when someone in your home is ill.

Top Dirty Sites in the Home

The following areas are those in your home where it is particularly important to clean frequently.


  • Sponge or dishcloth.
  • Kitchen sink and drain area.
  • Floor.
  • Taps.
  • Chopping boards.
  • Refrigerator handle.
  • Kitchen work surfaces and table tops.


  • Bath and sink drains.
  • Toilet flush handle.
  • Taps.
  • Shower drain area.
  • Toilet bowl (under the rim).
  • Toilet floor.
  • Toilet seat.

Living room/Bedroom

  • TV remote controls.
  • Light switches.
  • Door handles.

Try to make cleaning and disinfection of the germ hotspots part of your daily routine.


Washing your hands with soap and water is one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of germs. Every time you touch a dirty or potentially contaminated surface, you can transfer germs to and from your hands – but proper and thorough hand washing helps to remove the germs from your hands. Hand washing is important, but antibacterial soaps and hand washes provide extra protection against bacteria that cause many common illnesses such as food poisoning. If you feel you require this additional protection, you may choose to use an antibacterial soap or handwash.

When to Wash

  • Before handling food or eating.
  • Before preparing a baby’s feed or handling sterilised equipment.
  • Before applying contact lenses.
  • Immediately after handling raw foods, such as poultry.
  • After visiting the toilet or changing a nappy.
  • After touching animals or their toys or equipment.
  • After contact with blood or body fluids (like vomit, nasal secretions, saliva).
  • After touching a contaminated area (e.g. cleaning cloth, drain, soil).
  • Before and after dressing a wound, giving medicine, or applying a medical device (e.g. catheter).
  • More often when someone in your home is sick.
  • Whenever hands look dirty.

How to Wash

  • Wet your hands with warm water and apply a small amount of liquid soap.
  • Rub your palms together vigorously (away from the water) to make a lather.
  • Rub every part of your hands including the backs of your hands, your thumbs, between your fingers, and under and around your nails.
  • Continue for at least 20 seconds. It takes that long for the soap and scrubbing action to dislodge and remove the germs.
  • Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  • Dry your hands thoroughly using a clean dry towel.

When Soap and Water Aren't Available

You can still keep your hands clean even if water isn't available. Hand sanitisers are designed to kill germs on hands that are not visibly dirty, without the need for water or towels.

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