Even if you’re not a confirmed germaphobe, living through a global health crisis can turn you into someone who wipes, scrubs, and sprays with the same focus Tom Brady gives to football. Parents in particular are stocking up on cleaning supplies to have on hand during the coronavirus pandemic. The issue, however, is twofold: Some of the most effective cleaners are sold out, and we’re not entirely sure what to buy in the first place. So we turned to Brian Sansoni, the spokesperson for the American Cleaning Institute, to find out more.
Coronavirus, as we know, can survive on surfaces for hours to days, depending on the material, and the CDC recommends that “cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in households and community settings.” The CDC defines cleaning as “the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces” (ie., not killing germs), whereas disinfecting “refers to using chemicals, for example, EPA-registered disinfectants, to kill germs on surfaces,” which further reduces the risk of spreading infection.
But scoring disinfecting wipes remains tougher than getting into Harvard. As stores have started to restock, says Sansoni, “You don’t need to panic-buy and you don’t need to panic-clean. What you should do is pay attention a bit more to the surfaces that you’re cleaning and disinfecting — focus on hot spots that we may not pay attention to normally, like light switches, remote controls, game consoles, kitchen and bathroom faucets, the handles to our appliances. Clean those regularly throughout the week.”
When it comes to the disinfectants, it’s important to let the products do their job. Yes, a bleach spray may smell less than ideal when you’re dousing your kitchen counter with it, but read the instructions and don’t wipe it away too soon. “Read the label. Let the surface air-dry,” says Sansoni. “After it dries, you can wipe it off with regular water. But don’t just spray the disinfecting spray and wipe it up right away.”
The types of cleaning products you use (whether you’re into mists or foams, for example), says Sansoni, are an issue of preference. “It comes down to what works for you and what’s easiest to use. As we’re cleaning more and kids are around more, pay attention to the safety aspect,” he says. “Make sure they’re stored out of sight and out of reach.”
When used improperly, these products can do serious harm to people. In the words of the Environmental Protection Agency, “Never apply the product to yourself or others. Do not ingest disinfectant products.” Under no circumstances should any cleaning or disinfectant products be consumed, injected or in any other way applied to a human body.
The EPA has a running list of products that it deems effective for use against SARS-CoV-2. As you might guess, the list is incredibly unwieldy to navigate, and not something you’ll have time to peruse when you’re rushing through a grocery store while social distancing.
So if you’re glancing at a product, make sure it has one of the following ingredients, which are deemed effective against viruses: Sodium hypochlorite, ethanol, hydrogen peroxide, pine oil, citric acid, or potent disinfectant chemicals called quaternary ammonium compounds (QUATs). “Those are the workhorse ingredients that get the job done,” says Sansoni. So if you see a product, make sure one of those is listed as an active ingredient, and you know you’re getting something that will actually perform.
Finding EPA-approved cleaning products online is a hard slog. Please keep checking back; we will update this list as more products become available for delivery. Some products are listed online, but are only available with in-store pickup.
The Best EPA-Recommended Disinfectants for Coronavirus
Clorox Regular Liquid Bleach
Follow the instructions to dilute the bleach, and you can use it to clean hard non-porous surfaces.
Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner With Bleach
This gel-based cleaner keeps your throne clean and kills 99.9 percent of bacteria. It’s rarely in stock, so get it while you can.
Clorox Scentiva Bathroom Foam Cleaner
This foam-based bleach-free cleaner gets the job done. Get notified when it’s back in stock so you, in turn, can stock up.
Lysol All Purpose Cleaner Spray
You can use this spray in bathrooms or on kitchen counters to kill kills 99.9 percent of germs.
Clorox Advanced Formula Stain & Odor Remover Spray for Pets
While this spray is formulated to fight pet stains on both hard and soft surfaces, it’s also demonstrated effectiveness against viruses similar to coronavirus on hard, non-porous surfaces.
Lysol Disinfectant Spray
Lysol sprays like one get rid of odors and zap 99.9 percent of mildew, mold, viruses on most household surfaces. This item is available for in-store purchase only.
Lysol Disinfecting Wipes
Like many cleaning products, this one can be saved in your cart but purchased in store only, at least there’s more supply than demand.
Lysol Bathroom Cleaner Spray Sunshine Fresh Scent
Lysol bathroom cleaner spray is designed to clean grimy surfaces in the bathroom without scrubbing — and it kills 99.9% of viruses and bacteria.
Clorox Clean-Up All-Purpose Cleaner with Bleach
This workhorse Clorox spray is on the EPA’s approved list of cleaning products. It’s meant to be used on non-porous surfaces.
The Best Household Cleaning Supplies Not on the EPA’s List
Method Antibacterial Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Powered by citric acid, this toilet-bowl cleaner kills 99.9 percent of household germs, including influenza and rhinoviruses, on hard, non-porous surfaces.
Murphy Oil Soap Wood Cleaner, Original
Murphy Oil Soap has been a trusted cleaner since 1910, so it’s seen more than one pandemic. Though it’s designed for finished and unfinished wood, it’s versatile and ’98 percent natural’ — no ammonia, no bleach.
Murphy Oil Soap Spray Wood Cleaner
Same formulation as the original, but in a spray bottle, which is handier for cleaning tables, counters, and other wood surfaces around the house.
Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner
For many, this is the smell of clean. This multi-surface concentrate relies on citric acid, among other mostly natural ingredients, to clean and deodorize non-porous surfaces around the house. Use on floors, tiles, countertops, walls, and just about everywhere.
Simple Green Concentrated All-Purpose Cleaner
A powerful, natural all-purpose cleaner and degreaser. Use this concentrate at full strength or diluted on non-porous surfaces and on soft surfaces, from carpets to laundry. Super versatile and safe.
Maintex All-in-1 Oxy Multi-Surface Cleaner
Great for non-porous surfaces and also battles tough stains in carpets and fabrics.
Seventh Generation Disinfecting Multi-Surface Cleaner
Though it’s not on the EPA’s list, this eco-friendlier disinfectant has been shown to kill most household germs, including the cold and flu viruses. Use it to clean non-porous surfaces all around the house.
Every product on Fatherly is independently selected by our editors, writers, and experts. If you click a link on our site and buy something, we may earn an affiliate commission.
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