Oh jeez. You guys do not want the whole lecture on this. (I usually give about a three hour lecture with three hours of lab on this topic, to pre-med and nursing students.)
Just some random tidbits.
- Sweat does not have antimicrobial properties. They love it. It's an excellent way to transmit potentially pathogenic microbes. However, most microbes transmitted this way would probably require an abrasion or irritated skin zone, or contact with mucous membranes, to infect another individual. (Actually, that's a whole different lecture.)
- It is possible to keep surfaces sanitized - it's done in food plants and hospitals every day. One key factor is to get rid of anything that's porous. (No unsealed wood, fabric, unsealed concrete, etc.)
- For wiping down, use either a one-use disposable item (paper towel) or a commercially-laundered cloth, used once.
- Consumer laundering doesn't do a good job of removing microbes in the US, not since the EPA took phosphates out of our detergents.
- For disinfecting lab surfaces, I usually use 10% lysol. There used to be lots of different antimicrobials on the market, but due to costs of licensing, they're getting to be all the same. Check the label.
- Alcohol doesn't really do much as a surface disinfectant. Fungi grow pretty well in alcohol-based "disinfectants."
- 10% bleach can be effective (also helps to remove residue from lysol!) but it's inactivated by organic matter. So it's not great on really dirty surfaces. Also, many microbes can actually be resistant to higher strengths of bleach, since it causes a reaction with their outer layer to form a protective shell.
- These suddenly-popular foamy soaps found in commercial dispensers everywhere don't seem to do much. My students bring in things to test, and none of these foams has done a thing to microbes, yet.
- Oh and BTW, wearing flip-flops in the shower will not keep athletes-foot fungus off your feet. At the scale of a microbe, forces of gravity are very weak, compared with surface tension. Cells will move right up and over flip-flops through water films. The way to prevent fungal infections is to keep your feet dry most of the time.