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Household Cleaners That Kill Coronavirus

To protect yourself against coronavirus, pick a household cleaner that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has approved to kill the virus—and then follow the manufacturer’s rules exactly. 

Cleaning a door handle iStock

As we all stay home to help flatten the curve and slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19 or SARS-CoV-2), we’re paying extra attention to how we sanitize our homes. For many, we’re wondering which cleaning products are proven to kill the coronavirus.

Research suggests that the virus is mainly spread from person to person through respiratory droplets. But, it’s still important that your household cleaning routine consists of sanitizing and disinfecting surfaces, especially high-use ones like light switches, doorknobs, countertops, remote controls, and the like. This is particularly important if you live with someone who is suspected or confirmed to have coronavirus.

But not just any old cleaner will do. To protect yourself against coronavirus, pick a household cleaner that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has approved to kill the virus—and then to follow the manufacture’s rules exactly.

First Step: Use Soap

The CDC has approved a variety of disinfectants to combat coronavirus, including store-bought products and those made from common household goods, like bleach. But, let’s start with the basics: soap and water.

A thorough cleaning with good ol’ soap and water is the first step to sanitizing your home against coronavirus. This is because grime and other substances can neutralize the active ingredients in disinfectants to be used afterward, rendering them ineffective.

Which Cleaning Products Kill Coronavirus?

The CDC has been compiling a list of household cleaners that are approved to kill the novel coronavirus. “List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2,” includes cleaners that have been proven effective against other human viruses similar to the current coronavirus, and also against viruses that are harder to kill than it is.

Note: Many common household cleaning products don’t have an EPA registration number. If a product doesn’t have a number, that means it hasn’t been evaluated and its effect on the coronavirus is unknown. In this case, it’s best to seek out a product that has been approved.

To find out if a cleaning product is on the list of approved coronavirus disinfectants, first locate the product’s EPA registration number, which can be found on the label. (Look for the words “EPA Reg. No.”), then enter the first two sets of that number in the searchable online database.

If the product appears on the list, then it’s EPA-approved to kill coronavirus. If it doesn’t, it means it hasn’t yet been reviewed or it’s not approved.

Can Common Household Disinfectants Kill Coronavirus?

The CDC confirms that solutions made from common household cleaning products such as bleach or isopropyl alcohol are also effective against coronavirus. Here’s how to use them:

  • Bleach: Mix four teaspoons bleach into one quart of water (or five tablespoons of bleach per gallon of water). Let the solution sit on the surface for at least one minute (some independent experts suggest much longer—up to 10 minutes) before wiping away. Do not mix bleach with anything other than water; doing so may cause a very dangerous (potentially deadly) reaction. Additionally, make sure to use a bleach solution only in a properly ventilated area; if you start to feel dizzy, nauseated, or have trouble breathing, get some fresh air. If symptoms are severe or lasting, call Poison Control at 1-(800) 222-1222 no matter where you are in the US.
  • Isopropyl alcohol: Use a solution of at least 70 percent alcohol; apply undiluted and let sit at least 30 seconds.

Do Lysol Products Kill Coronavirus? (And Other Questions About Specific Brands)

List N is not an exhaustive list of disinfectants recommended for use against coronavirus, and more products are being added to it on a regular basis. However, the following well-known products have been approved:

Follow Instructions Exactly As They Appear

To ensure effectiveness, it is critical to follow the cleaning instructions exactly as they appear on the label, including whether the product should be wiped off (and after how long) or allowed to air dry.

Only use products on their intended surfaces (for example, Lysol shouldn’t be used on painted wood). Wear gloves and other recommended safety gear, and make sure you have proper ventilation. Also, remember not to mix different cleaning products as the results can be harmful.

How Long Can Coronavirus Survive on Surfaces?

It’s important to keep in mind that we are still learning a lot about Coronavirus, including specifics about how it spreads and how long it lasts on different surfaces.

Research published in The New England Journal of Medicine determined that the virus was detectable on cardboard for up to 24 hours and on plastic and stainless steel for up to 72 hours.

All the more reason to exercise an abundance of caution and continue to clean and disinfect on a regular basis.