The One Disinfecting Step You're Probably Doing Wrong

Disinfecting wipes seem like a no-brainer. But there's one crucial way you might be using them wrong.

We all have our go-to cleaning products. You know the ones—products that your parents used or that you grab for tidying up just before guests arrive. For most people, disinfecting wipes are probably on that list. But did you know that many fans of the product aren’t using it correctly?

cleaning supplies

The correct use depends on whether you’re aiming to sanitize or disinfect the surface. Confused? So were we. We talked to Evan Rumberger, an R&D associate research fellow from Clorox, to clarify the correct way to use disinfecting wipes.

“Sanitizing a surface kills germs to an extent recognized as safe by public health standards or requirements,” explained Rumberger. “Disinfection takes this to an even higher level of extent of germ kill and variety.”

To correctly disinfect a countertop, for example, the surface needs to be visibly wet for four minutes. That will probably take more wipes than you’re used to using while you clean. Sanitizing, on the other hand, only requires the surface to be visibly wet for ten seconds. In both cases, you should let the surface air dry.

All this information is included on the container label, though many of us breeze past it and get straight to cleaning. Rumberger emphasized that, as with all cleaning products, you should read the instructions carefully.

It might also come as a surprise that disinfecting wipes are also suitable for most surfaces. This is because the product is actually bleach free. They should, however, be kept away from porous or unfinished surfaces.

When storing your disinfecting wipes, as long as you’re keeping them out of direct sunlight and use them within a year, you’re set.

So next time you're cleaning your countertops (or doorknobs or light switches), make sure to use enough wipes and for the correct amount of time. And for those who have always followed the container’s instructions to a T, we commend you for your attention to detail.

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