Jessica Bennett for Better Homes & Gardens on 3 self-cleaning materials for a cleaner home.
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These self-cleaning materials eliminate viruses and bacteria to keep your home cleaner with less effort.
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, household materials with antimicrobial properties are gaining popularity. Although you can purchase all sorts of products treated with antimicrobial additives, including light switches, shower curtains, and bedding, certain natural materials also boast germ-repelling properties.
Due to their physical or chemical makeup, these surfaces naturally kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria and viruses, helping you keep your home cleaner with less spraying and scrubbing. Of course, hand-washing and disinfecting high-touch surfaces are vital to prevent the spread of germs throughout your home, but choosing the right materials can boost the health and hygiene of spaces like kitchens, bathrooms, mudrooms, and more. Learn how to use these naturally antimicrobial surfaces to keep your home cleaner and safer.
Natural cork is a sustainable, biodegradable material that comes from cork oak trees, which grow throughout the Mediterranean region. When used on surfaces like flooring and furniture, cork offers inherent antibacterial properties that can eliminate up to 96% of bacteria, according to one study involving Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and E. coli, two types of bacteria that can cause serious infections. Cork is also impermeable to liquids and gases, so it won’t absorb spills or odors like other porous materials. Try it on kitchen floors, set a cork bath mat outside your shower, or cover your desktop in cork for a germ-free workspace.
This shiny, reddish metal has been used for medicinal purposes dating back as early as 6,000 B.C. because it can inactivate many germs within minutes. Recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as antimicrobial, solid copper can kill 99.9% of microorganisms, including bacteria, yeasts, and viruses. Copper’s alloys, including brass and bronze, can also be effective at eliminating germs on surfaces. Look for these metals on sinks, faucets, light switch plates, door handles, and other frequently touched surfaces.
There’s a reason hospitals often have linoleum flooring. Invented more than 150 years ago, this eco-friendly material is naturally antibacterial and hypoallergenic. Not to be confused with vinyl, linoleum is made from renewable, biodegradable materials including linseed oil, powdered cork, wood flour, pine resins, and mineral pigments and mounted on canvas or jute backing. This durable, water-resistant flooring holds up well in high-traffic or moisture-prone areas including entryways, kitchens, and bathrooms. Plus, it’s easy to install and comes in a wide variety of colors and patterns.