Use Disinfectants Correctly

Regular use of disinfectants has become routine in many homes. Most doctors and researchers say disinfectants are safe and effective when used correctly. This is a good time to double check how you’re using them.

Keep disinfectants on surfaces, not yourself.

Disinfecting products that use bleach or quaternary ammonium compounds (quats) are considered safe if used as directed. But be sure to use them in properly ventilated rooms to avoid inhaling them, which can cause irritation in some people, and wear gloves when applying. The EPA recommends using non-aerosol sprays or wipes.

Give them time to work.

Check the product label to know how long to leave the disinfectant on a surface before wiping. Typically they recommend leaving the surface visibly wet for 4-10 minutes

Check your hand sanitizer.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends checking that your hand sanitizer has at least a 60% concentration of alcohol to be effective. Also check to make sure it hasn’t expired—evaporation can lower the effectiveness of sanitizers—and check this FDA list of sanitizers to avoid because of toxic additions or inadequate levels of alcohol.

Be extra careful with disinfectants around children

Young children can be effected by smaller amounts of disinfectant than adults. And children are also more likely to ingest them because they put their hands in their mouths. Wipe off bleach- and quat-based products after they’ve been on the surface for the necessary amount of time to disinfect (see above).

For more tips and instructions for how to make your own bleach solution, check here.