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How best to disinfect a plastic beverage cap that fell on the floor?


ScienceNostalgia101
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I'm a little worried about germs coming into contact with the ring of plastic beverage cap, but I'm not sure how best to disinfect it without doing more harm than good. Would immersion in saturated saltwater kill whatever floor germs got on it, or is that only good for deterring bacteria from entering a particular environment in the first place? I'm very hesitant to resort to any stronger chemicals as I'm worried those chemicals might do me more harm than the bacteria themselves.

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I'd be worried about accidentally ingesting some of the soap, too, if any was left on it inadvertently. How much rinsing is adequate to get the soap out of the cap? Does it depend on whether the soap used is dish soap or hand soap?

Edited by ScienceNostalgia101
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1 hour ago, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

the ring of plastic beverage cap

Help me with this, please. Are you talking about the ring that's left when you twist the top off a bottle of water or soda? If you're going to worry about that to the point of wanting it disinfected, why don't you just cut it off with a knife or scissors? 

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22 minutes ago, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

I'd be worried about accidentally ingesting some of the soap, too, if any was left on it inadvertently. How much rinsing is adequate to get the soap out of the cap? Does it depend on whether the soap used is dish soap or hand soap?

Do you worry about this when eating food with your hands? Assuming that you wash your hands with soap, that it. The rinsing effort is similar, as is the risk of ingesting soap.

 

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I was under the impression that soap was chemically meant to slide off skin and didn't necessarily slide as easily off of other surfaces.

 

But if it slides just as reliably off plastic, then yeah, it's soap and water for plastic caps too from now on. Thanks again!

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2 hours ago, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

I'm a little worried about germs coming into contact with the ring of plastic beverage cap, but I'm not sure how best to disinfect it without doing more harm than good.

No, salt water won't do it. Drop the cap into a small container of vinegar, then rinse and air-dry. Ingesting vinegar residue won't harm you in any way. 

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3 hours ago, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

I'm a little worried about germs coming into contact with the ring of plastic beverage cap, but I'm not sure how best to disinfect it without doing more harm than good. Would immersion in saturated saltwater kill whatever floor germs got on it, or is that only good for deterring bacteria from entering a particular environment in the first place? I'm very hesitant to resort to any stronger chemicals as I'm worried those chemicals might do me more harm than the bacteria themselves.

Personally I'd be more worried about the chemicals allowed in bottled  'beverages'  than either salt, soap or vinegar.

More especially if you drink a lot of them.

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1 hour ago, ScienceNostalgia101 said:

I was under the impression that soap was chemically meant to slide off skin and didn't necessarily slide as easily off of other surfaces.

Soap lowers the surface tension of water so the molecules break up more, making both the water and soap more efficient at cleaning.

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1 hour ago, studiot said:

Personally I'd be more worried about the chemicals allowed in bottled  'beverages'  than either salt, soap or vinegar.

More especially if you drink a lot of them.

Plus one.  And where are these floors that generate such hypervigilance?  Unless you are keeping livestock in the house or have birds flying freely around or are running some kind of sickroom where bodily fluids are getting on the floor, I can't see what the fuss is about.  

Our immune systems are built to handle most bacteria that land on household surfaces and there have been studies that excessive disinfecting can lead to immune problems later.  It is true that cats can shed toxoplasmosis cysts, but it's also true that most cat lovers have been exposed throughout their lives, carry some inactive cysts in their tissues, and are never troubled by them.  

The germophobia, especially in America, has gotten way out of hand.  And it's been linked with increasing rates of immune and allergic problems in children and younger adults.    

The stuff that the plastic bottle leaches into its contents should be of far more concern.  Ditto one-serving frozen meals that are boiled in a plastic dish in a microwave.  That's what people should be avoiding.  

Edited by TheVat
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I've never paid too much thought to the plastic bottle aspect. I'll keep that in mind wherever glass bottles are available.

 

That said, my apartment can be kind of messy, but I've never kept pets in it. I'll... try not to worry too much over this sort of thing. Just a quick soaking in vinegar and call it a day.

 

In any case, thanks again.

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1 hour ago, TheVat said:

The germophobia, especially in America, has gotten way out of hand.  And it's been linked with increasing rates of immune and allergic problems in children and younger adults.    

That's quite true, but we're unlikely to solve the problem without a massive ad campaign - and that still leaves all the distrusters of public media and conspiracy subscribers.

About the most positive approach, in the meantime, is advocacy of natural and simple remedies, rather than commercial overkill products. It's the same with insect and weed control in the garden - chemical warfare on everything.  

I figure, if ScienceNostalgia is shunning that route, he's already on the right track.

1 hour ago, TheVat said:

The stuff that the plastic bottle leaches into its contents should be of far more concern.  Ditto one-serving frozen meals that are boiled in a plastic dish in a microwave.  That's what people should be avoiding.  

That's what will kill us all - plastic everywhere.

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3 hours ago, TheVat said:

The stuff that the plastic bottle leaches into its contents should be of far more concern.  Ditto one-serving frozen meals that are boiled in a plastic dish in a microwave.  That's what people should be avoiding.  

Less true than it used to be.

When I was first at university many of us brewed beer in plastic buckets/small dustbins.

Yellow was a very popular colour.

Then some professor (at Southampton I think) pointed out that the yellow colour is given by cadmium and this dissolves out into the beer.

Cadmium, of course is poisonous.

Edited by studiot
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How did the human species evolve, without soap and bleach? It's a mystery. If we could see what our ancestors had to eat at times, to survive, we might be a little less fussy these days. 

There is some very nasty stuff out there, but that doesn't mean that it's all bad. And our immune systems are tuned to dealing with loads of bacteria and viruses and may need regular exposure to keep healthy. 

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4 minutes ago, mistermack said:

There is some very nasty stuff out there, but that doesn't mean that it's all bad. And our immune systems are tuned to dealing with loads of bacteria and viruses and may need regular exposure to keep healthy. 

That's true. But we shun the periodic die-offs like the one we're experiencing now. Herd immunity, when the herd has attained such inflated numbers, is very expensive in terms of individual lives. Individual immunity or resistance is far more difficult to maintain in a crowded, cosmopolitan setting than it was in small groups scattered far apart in an open landscape. Different lifestyles demand different approaches.

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Admittedly, I wasn't thinking about pandemics when I posted. A beverage cap doesn't strike me as a serious hazard. Even if somebody else handled it, they would normally touch the outside parts rather than the parts that contact the drink. Hand washing would normally protect you from the odd stray virus picked up off a cap. 

With the covid outbreak, the consensus medical opinion seems to be that the importance of hand washing is not very great, compared to mask wearing and ventilation. Other bugs are more easily passed on off surfaces so hand washing does make sense, especially around hospitals and other public places. As far as the OP goes though, I would say that soap and water are more than enough for that kind of situation. A bit over the top, if anything.

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Yesterday I took a nice hike in a local nature reserve. About half way through I stopped and peeled a couple of tangerines, then accidentally dropped them on the ground. As a cursory inspection revealed no attached sand I proceeded to eat them. Delicious! And as of today I am still alive. 😃

Edited by zapatos
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Except where such measures are clinically justifiable in certain circumstances, like immune deficiency and operating theatres, trying to separate oneself from the universe of 'everyday' ubiquitous microorganisms is a fool's errand, I think. Why try to remove, beyond a cosmetic level, stuff that we have evolved to live with. I blame advertising, propagating anxiety to  maintain hygiene-related markets. 

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13 minutes ago, StringJunky said:

Except where such measures are clinically justifiable in certain circumstances, like immune deficiency and operating theatres, trying to separate oneself from the universe of 'everyday' ubiquitous microorganisms is a fool's errand, I think. Why try to remove, beyond a cosmetic level, stuff that we have evolved to live with. I blame advertising, propagating anxiety to  maintain hygiene-related markets. 

 

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I read once that the push for cleanliness in the home (at least in the US) came shortly after the invention of time saving machines such as washing machines, dryers, dish washers, vacuums, etc. Because women no longer had to spend endless hours cleaning high level dirt in the home, manufacturers saw an opportunity to give them something else to do to fill their days (Not a paying job of course!). Thus the focus on germs! Especially those nasty bathroom germs that will crawl to the baby food if you are not vigilant!

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3 hours ago, StringJunky said:

Except where such measures are clinically justifiable in certain circumstances, like immune deficiency and operating theatres, trying to separate oneself from the universe of 'everyday' ubiquitous microorganisms is a fool's errand, I think. Why try to remove, beyond a cosmetic level, stuff that we have evolved to live with. I blame advertising, propagating anxiety to  maintain hygiene-related markets. 

Bingo! Look at those poor invasive lizard people in "War of the Worlds" once our air borne bugs got to them! Closer to home, I have a mate, (and my Mrs) who only ever drink bottled water.Me? I drink it straight from the tap, satisfied that Sydney water takes the necessary precautions in making sure that water is drinkable, and at the standards required in a first world country. Yet in many parts of south east Asia, I would not dare drink the unsanitisied water that the general populace there drink. Bali's belly come to mind!

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While I’m pretty relaxed generally about food hygiene, there are a few bacteria that really do need to be avoided.

I think the worst is an ecoli variant found in cattle dung. I remember reading that it is so bad, that a single bacterium can lead to a fatal infection. Most viruses and bacteria need a fairly substantial number to invade in the first infection, but for some reason, this ecoli bug can do it with just one.

So if I dropped a bottle cap in a house, I wouldn’t worry, but if I dropped it in a farm yard, I would be very wary.

 

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27 minutes ago, mistermack said:

I think the worst is an ecoli variant found in cattle dung. I remember reading that it is so bad, that a single bacterium can lead to a fatal infection. Most viruses and bacteria need a fairly substantial number to invade in the first infection, but for some reason, this ecoli bug can do it with just one.

I do not think they can be as low as a single bacterium, but EHEC has been reported as low as 10-100 bacteria. However, much of its action is due to the Shiga toxin.

Among gut infections I would probably be more worried about Clostridium difficile which is extremely difficult to get rid off (due to high resistance to antibiotics). The toxin of Clostridium botulinum is of course famously nasty though luckily not that common.  Listeria are also nasty, with a case fatality perhaps around 5x that of EHEC. They can grow slowly at low temp, but typically do not exhibit gastrointestinal symptoms. Instead often unspecific symptoms of inflammation are found making it often very difficult to diagnose.

On 1/12/2022 at 1:59 PM, beecee said:

I drink it straight from the tap, satisfied that Sydney water takes the necessary precautions in making sure that water is drinkable, and at the standards required in a first world country.

One should also make sure that the lines are not e.g. leaching lead. One thing I learned from colleagues who are specialist for water safety is that in many first world countries (including Canada, USA and perhaps also Australia) there are often surprisingly few mandatory regulations. Now, I proceeded to put my fingers in my ears and pretended not to have heard it, so I am a bit hazy on the details but my faith in drinking water has been shaken a little bit. But from what I understand is that while the overall guiding principle is that the water is safe to drink, it can vary regionally what it means in terms of e.g. bacterial load or how frequently the sources are tested for such or other contaminations (or which contaminations are regular tested for).

 

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The thing with ecoli is that it can survive and multiply in the gut, which is how one bacterium can be dangerous. I can't remember where I read that, but it did include the info that people with lower levels of acid in the stomach are especially vulnerable. And that includes people who take acid suppressors, including Omeprazole, which I take, one a day. That's what made it stick in my memory.

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