COVID-19: How To Effectively Clean & Sanitize Your Home, with Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

During this time of pandemic, it’s more important than ever to keep your living area clean and safe. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation going around about how to accomplish this. In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana Amen are again joined by Earth Friendly Products CEO Kelly Vlahakis-Hanks for a discussion on how to clean and disinfect your home properly.

Read Full Transcript

Dr Daniel Amen: Welcome to the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen.
Tana Amen: I'm Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
Dr Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics where we have been transforming lives for 30 years using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is also brought to you by BrainMD where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more go to
Tana Amen: Welcome back. We are still with our friend Kelly Vlahakis and we're talking about her product, Earth Friendly Products which I love. I use them in our home and we are-
Dr Daniel Amen: Her company.
Tana Amen: Her company. Yes. I use them. I love your products by the way.
Kelly Vlahakis: Thank you.
Tana Amen: Because we are all about non-toxic products in our house and what we touched on it a little bit in the last episode Kelly and I'd love to talk about it more. During this scare, I think a lot of people are tossing that idea of non-toxic because it's-
Dr Daniel Amen: They're afraid.
Tana Amen: They're afraid okay because of the virus. We are like look we want to be non-toxic as much as we can, but the ICU nurse in me is like nope this is war I'm pulling out the big guns, right? I'm pulling out bleach and I'm pulling out whatever. I don't care about the toxicity in the moment as long as I can kill the virus, so talk to be about do natural products work as well or do we as you touched on decrease the viral load by cleaning first. What's the best way to do this?
Kelly Vlahakis: Absolutely. Going back to the CDC's site, right, step one is to clean and step two is to disinfect. I just really want to encourage everybody to not skip step one which is the cleaning part because when you do the cleaning part you reduce the viral load. There was actually a wonderful article on March 13th that came out in the New York Times that I just loved. It was called Why Soap Works. I think it's so important for people to understand-
Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:02:20]
Kelly Vlahakis: ... why does soap work, and so when I talk about our ECOS Hand Soap and I talk about, "Hey everybody wash your hands for 20 seconds." The CDC clearly says, "It's more important to wash your hands for 20 seconds than to use the hand sanitizer." Now let's talk about the reasons why. When we think about cleaning, when you think of a soap molecule, a soap molecule has two ends one is hydrophilic and one is hydrophobic. Another great Greek word. Hydrophilic loves water. Hydrophobic doesn't like water. The hydrophobic end actually penetrates the envelope around the virus, so when you're looking at the coronavirus that we're talking about right now, COVID-19, it has a membrane around it. The hydrophilic part of the soap molecule penetrates that membrane. When it penetrates that membrane, it disrupts the virus and you wash the virus away. It's a great article to read. I think really helpful for people to get a visual.
Kelly Vlahakis: When you're washing your hands for 20 seconds, right, the soap breaks the surface tension of the water and then it also breaks the virus or bacteria or germs and you wash it and you rinse it away. That's the most important thing to do. When you think about using a hand sanitizer, you put that on your hand, right, and what its job is, is to kill any bacteria or viruses. The reason the CDC recommends it second is because you should only do that if you don't have access to water and soap. Because you put that all over your hands, what if it doesn't kill some of the virus or bacteria, you've now left all these kind of dead bugs on your hands, right?
Tana Amen: Yep.
Kelly Vlahakis: It's the second choice and certainly important if you don't have access to soap and water, but you're doing that. You're doing two things as well right? You're also utilizing a lot of ingredients that long term will be hard for your health. Same thing when you think about all-purpose cleaners. All-purpose cleaners if you use a natural all-purpose cleaner you don't have all the dangerous volatile organic compounds and other things that are so harmful to our lungs and our immune systems. You clean everything and cleaning is defined as removing dirt, germs, bacteria, viruses and all of those different pathogens. When you remove them and you wash them away that's the best thing.
Kelly Vlahakis: Second, you can use a disinfectant. I think a lot of people don't realize if you actually read the label on a disinfectant, they have dwell times so you spray a disinfectant and you leave it for five, 10, 15, 20 minutes whatever the dwell time is and then you wipe it away. I see a lot of people out there cleaning with disinfectants and that doesn't work. If you're spraying a disinfectant and then wiping things down, you're not doing anything. You're actually doing more harm. Clean first with a healthy product and then go to the frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs or light switches and other things, you can use your disinfectant but read the label, use the dwell time and make sure you're using gloves, face masks.
Dr Daniel Amen: Have you ever heard of a dwell time before?
Tana Amen: No, I haven't. I mean you're speaking my language when you talk about soap and sanitizers because I'm a nurse right?
Kelly Vlahakis: Yes.
Tana Amen: I already knew that. You have to wash your hands. You have to scrub them for long periods of time. I mean my hands were always cracked because we had to wash our hands so much.
Kelly Vlahakis: That's another ... I'm so glad you brought that up. Your hands were cracked so the other important thing about using a product like our ECOS Hand Soap, they're pH neutral. They're hypoallergenic and one of the things that we don't want is we don't want ... We have a natural barrier on our skin and we want to keep that intact. That natural barrier protects us-
Tana Amen: Protects you.
Kelly Vlahakis: ... from infection. Exactly. If we're using hand soaps that are really caustic and breaking that natural barrier and creating new entrance for all sorts of bacteria and other infections, so if you use a natural hand soap that hypoallergenic and pH like our ECOS Products you're also protecting your skin.
Tana Amen: Yeah, I totally agree, but when I started to tell ... I was telling my family and the kids it's like they have this idea that they can just use the sanitizers. I'm like, "You cannot do that. You need to ... " It's like, "Oh well I sanitized my hands." I'm like, "When you walk into this house, you wash your hands first. You have to wash your hands."
Kelly Vlahakis: That's right.
Tana Amen: I know that that's an actual ... I'm really glad you brought that up. The sanitizers do not take the place of the soap.
Dr Daniel Amen: Well and one other thing nobody talks about with all of the antimicrobial is ... We've talked about it a lot on the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast which is you have a hundred trillion bugs in your gut and they serve you. They help you and now people are taking antibiotics that they don't need, damaging the gut bugs and they're getting these products and they may be inhaling them or somehow consuming them which then will damage them.
Tana Amen: Right.
Kelly Vlahakis: Absolutely. I think that that's so important to talk about antibiotics. When we think of disinfectants, it's basically the same thing. It's killing all the good bugs alongside of the bad bugs. We really want to just make sure that we're thoughtful when we're using it and not continuously exposing ourselves to it because we do want to make sure that we do keep good bugs in our lives. Also-
Tana Amen: Yeah, it's been an interesting time. Oh, I'm sorry. Go ahead.
Kelly Vlahakis: Oh, yeah and just that people should know the skin is the largest organ in our body, right? Whatever we put on our skin is absorbed oftentimes quicker than what we put into our mouth so it's so important. I mean that's why I talk to people about laundry detergent. Bleach I understand in the hospital setting. You have a blood spill. That's one thing. When I hear people talk about whitening their whites using bleach because their kid played soccer, it's just not necessary. You could use a non-chlorine bleach. You could use something much safer to accomplish the same task without the detrimental effects to human health.
Kelly Vlahakis: When you think of bleach, it was utilized for chemical warfare during World War II. I mean that's the purpose. Then after the war, they're like, "What should we do with this?" "Oh dump it in the consumer market. They'll love it." Right?
Tana Amen: Right. Stupid, right? They'll love it.
Kelly Vlahakis: It certainly has its place in space in a hospital setting, blood spills, other things, but in an every day environment at home we want to just be careful about using it.
Tana Amen: But gee you brought up a good point because it feels like chemical warfare right now. We want people to understand. Because normally I'm one of those people who doesn't like hand sanitizers. Don't want them in my house. I always tell people stop being a germophobe right. It's like it's not good for us. It's not good for your gut to do that. Right now, all of the sudden it's like wait that's true in normal times. That's not true during war, right?
Kelly Vlahakis: Yes.
Tana Amen: There's a difference. Right now, it feels like chemical warfare. We feel like we are in a war.
Kelly Vlahakis: Even when we're talking about sanitizers or disinfectants, there's still better choices I believe to select from, right?
Tana Amen: Tell us about that.
Kelly Vlahakis: There are organic hand sanitizers on the market, right? You can get a sanitizer that's using ethanol that comes from plant-derived ingredients versus utilizing IPA or utilizing quats and other dangerous [crosstalk 00:09:25]
Tana Amen: Do you make one?
Kelly Vlahakis: That's such a good question. We introduced actually in October at the International Sanitary Supply Show in Vegas our multipurpose disinfectant and sanitizer. We've already got all of the-
Tana Amen: [crosstalk 00:09:40]
Kelly Vlahakis: ... approvals from the federal EPA and we're just right now waiting for the state by state. I'll show you Tana, it looks like this. You can see it.
Tana Amen: Oh, I'm so interested. Oh, that's so great.
Kelly Vlahakis: Yeah. That's our multipurpose and disinfectant sanitizer, so I'm hopeful that we'll have it in the marketplace in the coming weeks because we certainly want to offer a greener version. The beauty of our-
Tana Amen: Will you have a hand sanitizer?
Kelly Vlahakis: We will have that as well. The FDA just allowed companies like ours that have the ability to make hand sanitizers to start producing immediately. We'll actually start running hand sanitizers on our production lines later this week.
Tana Amen: Oh, my gosh. That is so great.
Kelly Vlahakis: Next week, we'll have hand sanitizers and I'm hopeful we'll have the disinfectant and sanitizer in the spray as well as the wipes in coming weeks.
Tana Amen: How hard is it going to be for people to ... I'm sorry, but I'm jumping ahead here because this is the practical stuff people want to hear because I know I want to hear it.
Kelly Vlahakis: Yes. Yes. Yes.
Tana Amen: How hard is it going to be for people to find it right now? I can't find. I'm getting these garbage sanitizers because I can't find any of the good stuff. I can't find what I need to find.
Kelly Vlahakis: Right, right. Absolutely. As soon as we start production, we have a lot of wonderful retail partners we're working with and like you mentioned Tana there's been an unbelievable demand for cleaning products right now. I mean we're producing four or five times the amount that we typically would. We're running 24/7 around the clock. I mean a huge shout out to my team here at ECOS for really-
Tana Amen: Yeah, thank you.
Kelly Vlahakis: I talked to them about, thank you, what patriotism is and one of the front lines is creating cleaning products that we can keep our healthcare providers and other people safe during this time of war as you said. Our products are available at all of the retailers. In terms of the sanitizers and the hand sanitizers, certainly it will be available on Amazon which is one of our great online partners. You can find our entire ECOS portfolio online and then we'll partner with our other brick-and-mortar retailers to get it on shelf. Right now, in terms of finding our ECOS portfolio for all of your cleaning, stores like Costco, Sam's Club, Walmart, Target, Whole Foods, Sprouts, Mother's Market, Gelson's, Bristol Farms. I mean there's so many Ralphs that are here in the area that have-
Dr Daniel Amen: I'm sure they have to be diligent and watchful. When we come back, we're going to talk about whether or not you should be washing your food.
Female: Yes.
Dr Daniel Amen: Stay with us.
Tana Amen: If you are enjoying the Brain Warrior's Way Podcast please don't forget to subscribe so you'll always know when there's a new episode. While you're at it, feel free to give us a review or five star rating as that help others find the podcast.
Dr Daniel Amen: If you're considering coming to Amen Clinics or trying some of the brain healthy supplements from BrainMD, you can use the code PODCAST10 to get a 10% discount on a full evaluation at or a 10% discount on all supplements at For more information give us a call at 855-978-1363.