Laundry

This is how to use disinfecting wipes effectively in your home

Killing the coronavirus one year later

A man cleans a countertop with a disinfecting wipe Credit: Getty Images / Fly View Productions

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As we've learned in the last year, it's more important than ever to make sure you're disinfecting your home thoroughly, as the coronavirus and other germs can live on surfaces for hours to days.

Which means these same nasty germs can also live in sponges. Not to mention that for most of us the added effort of filling a bucket with Pine Sol and water to scrub counters and floors ranks right up on the fun scale with having a tooth pulled. There has to be a better way.

To keep the gross factor and contamination to a minimum, many of us have turned to disinfecting wipes, which make cleaning up after the coronavirus a whole lot easier—or does it? The answer depends on how you're using them.

Are you using disinfecting wipes the right way?

Here's the thing: We are all for reducing waste, but trying to clean an entire kitchen with just one Clorox wipe is not as effective as you may think, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

When cleaning with disinfecting wipes, you need to use more than just one.

The CDC explains on its website that "disinfection usually requires the product to remain on the surface for a certain period of time (e.g. letting it stand for 3 to 5 minutes)." It's highly unlikely that just one wipe will accomplish this, especially if you're using it on a larger area like the kitchen counter or floor.

So, while one wipe may clean the surface, it won't disinfect it. The CDC notes that cleaning simply removes germs, while disinfecting actually kills them.

What to use and how to use it

First, make sure you're choosing a product that you can trust will both clean and disinfect.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers a searchable database—known as List N—with approved products that kill SARS-CoV-2 as long as you follow the instructions for that specific product.

Approved disinfecting wipes include Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, Lysol Disinfecting Wipes, Arm & Hammer Essentials Disinfecting Wipes, and Dr J's Surface Disinfectant Wipes.

Clean your surfaces according to label directions. Use enough so that whatever surface you're cleaning stays wet for the recommended amount of time—in the case of disinfecting wipes like the ones from Clorox, it's only 15 seconds. Lysol is 2 minutes. Dr J is 4 minutes.

Aim for 5 minutes if your product doesn't specify. You can set a timer to monitor your surface after you wipe to ensure that your efforts are actually killing germs instead of just spreading them around.

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