Cleaning without Chemicals – UV Light

You all know that I try to avoid synthetic chemicals.  What you might not know is that I am also a science nerd.  And while I dislike clutter, I love useful, functional gadgets.  And this is how I found a simple and inexpensive method for cleaning without chemicals, using a UV light wand.

Note: I am not a doctor or a scientist, and I cannot make claims about the effectiveness of this product.  I am only reporting my beliefs, based on my research and personal use. 

Disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.  See my Disclosure Policy for more information.

cleaning without chemicals title with UV wand

I have this really bad habit of perusing Kickstarter when I am bored.  It’s fun to see the new projects different people are working on, and I come across some pretty neat products.    

UV Light for cleaning without chemicals

One day I was perusing Kickstarter, and came across a product that claimed to kill some viruses and bacteria using a specific wavelength of light.  Ever curious, I began researching this claim.  And soon came to believe that it is true.  According to several studies, (Study 1Study 2, Study 3, Study 4, Study 5Study 6, and many more studies) certain wavelengths on the light spectrum can be used for cleaning without chemicals!  How cool is this?!  No synthetic chemicals, no natural chemicals, just whatever goes into making a light and its holder.  Which, I realize, does have chemicals and waste associated with it.  But, assuming they’re like other flashlights and electronics that I use, these devices can last years, with only the one time waste produced.   I’ll take that over exposing my skin and lungs to synthetic chemicals every time I need to clean!

Caution:  The wavelength of the UV light in these products can burn skin and eyes.  NEVER look at the UV light (also avoid looking at the reflection of the light) and keep bare skin away.  I wear long pants and socks when using the UV light on low surfaces.  NEVER shine the light at any people or animals.  Heed all cautions on product packaging.

cleaning without chemicals UV wand top
UV light wand

UV light wand

After learning this awesome new fact, I started researching on Amazon.  How much do these products cost?  And do users feel that they work?  I came across several UV “wands” and really liked this one.  Two things really sold me on the UV wands, and one thing sold me on the Kendal UV wand in particular.  I was very excited to try a new product for cleaning without chemicals. 

Note: the original product that introduced me to cleaning with UV light is not yet available, so I have not tried it and cannot review it at this time.

A microbiologist’s test

As I read through the reviews, I was looking for facts.  Which can be tough for a common person in relation to cleaning.  No matter how thoroughly I feel I have cleaned, I don’t really have a way to know if I have succeeded.  So [the nerd in me] was so excited when I found a review from a microbiologist.  (Yes, I know, I have no proof that this person is a microbiologist.  But I asked myself, what would this person have to gain by lying about this? — nothing that I could see.  And is there evidence to back up the claim? — yes: photos of “a common skin bacteria, Staphylococcus epidermidis, on … agar plates.” This seems real enough for me.)

Anyway, this microbiologist took samples of a common skin bacteria, put them in containers, held this UV wand over the container for either 0, 5, 10, 30, or 60 seconds, and provided photos of the containers with bacteria visible.  

The results showed a significant decrease in bacteria after 5 seconds (proving to me that this works!).  The photos showed not much more decrease in bacterial with more time under the light.  Which told me something else useful – holding the light over the surface which I am trying to sanitize for about 5 seconds is all that is needed.  If you want to see the photos, scroll down to the reviews and click on the photo for the Kendal UV wand.

cleaning without chemicals UV wand bottom, light on
UV light wand – with bulb ON
The bathroom test

This one is a little gross, but also to me proved effectiveness.  Have you ever been in a bathroom that had an unpleasant urine smell?  Worse yet, was it your own bathroom?  And despite scrubbing every surface with various cleaners, you can’t get the smell to go away?  This UV wand may be the answer to your prayers.  Several reviewers commented that the UV light made that awful smell go away.  This is honestly what sold me.  For over a year, I had this problem in my guest bathroom.  I scrubbed and scrubbed and still, especially on hot days, it stunk.  I think urine got in the grout around the tiles, but I was not looking forward to re-grouting my floor. 

My success

So I bought this UV wand.  And in a slow, sweeping motion, ensuring the light stayed over each spot at least 5 seconds, I “sanitized” my entire guest bathroom toilet, floor, sink, and door knob (only took 5-10 minutes, it is a small half bath).  The next morning, I went in the bathroom, and no stink! Yay!!

I was so excited about this find that I told several of my friends.  A couple months later, one of those friends told me that her toddler missed the toilet and now the bathroom smells unbearable despite intense cleaning.  She borrowed my UV wand and reported that it worked like magic!

I have noticed in my bathroom that, after a month or two, the smell starts to come back.  This further supports my thought that the urine or whatever is causing the smell (some bacteria?) is in the grout around the tiles.  I guess that the light kills whatever is on the surface, but that some bacteria is deeper in the grout and continues to grow, reaching the surface and starting to stink again after several weeks.  But, all I need to do is slowly run the light over the likely stink-producing surfaces once a month or so to keep the bad smell away.  

cleaning without chemicals UV wand cleaning bathroom sink
using the UV light wand to clean the faucet
Additional note on my selection of the Kendal UV Wand

There were two reasons, unrelated to the effectiveness of the UV wand, why I selected the Kendal UV wand.  One reason was the price – I paid $19.99 (April 2017).  The other comparable wands at the time were around $70. 

The second reason was a safety feature – or lack thereof.  Many of these UV wands have a safety feature where the light automatically turns off when the bulb is turned upwards.  This is so you cannot accidentally shine the light in your eyes.  But, how can I use this the clean the underside of a door knob? Or the outside underside of a toilet bowl?  The Kendal UV wand does not have this safety feature, which makes cleaning with this wand easier.  But, be careful not to shine the light in your (or anyone’s) face!

Purchasing note: It appears that the Kendal UV wand is no longer readily available as of October 2017.  This wand appears identical with the exception that the label sticker contains multiple languages.  

Have you used any alternative products for cleaning without chemicals?  Please share in the comments below!