Disinfecting wipes are widely believed to be a great way to keep us healthy, especially during these germ-ridden days. But they won’t work and may even spread germs rather than kill them if not applied as intended. So, how to safely and properly use them? Here are 16 things you need to know.
Don’t use disinfecting wipes as antibacterial wipes or diaper wipes. The chemicals in these wipes are intended to clean hard and soft surfaces, not your skin. Furthermore, they may cause allergic reactions to the skin, such as redness, itching, or peeling.
Never use disinfecting wipes on absorbent surfaces like rugs, as this will not only damage the object but also reduce the disinfecting power. Avoid unpainted, unfinished, unsealed, waxed or oiled surfaces, too. Clorox wipes should also not be used on copper, aluminum, or other polished surfaces. It’s best to read the label before you disinfect a surface. And when in doubt, test a small area first.
Disinfecting wipes can be used on many surfaces, but it doesn’t mean that you can use a single wipe on multiple surfaces, as you may just end up spreading more bacteria and viruses than you’re killing. So, remember the golden rule: “new places, new wipes.”
To be effective, disinfecting wipes need to stay on the surface for a certain period of time, which varies by product. For example, Clorox Disinfecting Wipes require that you should keep the treated surface visibly wet for 4 minutes for it to be thoroughly disinfected. Now, you know it pays to check the label first.
While disinfecting wipes make a reliable weapon against germs, overuse of them can cause the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as “superbugs.” Studies have revealed that some superbugs like MRSA are able to spread through disinfecting wipes. So, when you have to use disinfecting wipes, make sure you’re following the instructions.
You may think disinfecting and cleaning are one in the same, but there’s actually a big difference between these two things. Cleaning removes germs from surfaces, while disinfecting kills them by using antimicrobial agents. Disinfecting wipes are not necessary for routine cleaning, but do use them when a surface has contact with raw meat, blood or bodily fluids, and when a family member suffers from a contagious disease like flu.
As the WHO stresses, cleaning with soap and water is the best way to lower the number of germs and reduce the risk of infection. Dr. Sampson Davis, an emergency room physician, couldn’t agree more, saying, “The first line of defense against germs is always going to be soap and water. This is true even of contaminated surfaces that should be disinfected.”
Preparing some disinfecting wipes for daily use is necessary, but you should keep them at room temperature. If it’s a place in extreme heat or extreme cold, such as your car, you’re likely to destroy the preservatives and get “fold mold.” As the name suggests, it’s a fungus hiding in the folds of the wipes. Imagine spreading that around your steering wheel. Eek!
Even if you store them in the right place, you shouldn’t expect disinfecting wipes to stay fresh forever. The product usually starts to lose some of its effectiveness after 2 years. A representative for Lysol Disinfecting Wipes has revealed that their wipes don’t have an expiration date, but they have “a shelf life of two years from the date of manufacture.” Well, you don’t have to remember the exact date, as the smell will tell all. If the scent gets much weaker, you’re advised to replace them.
It’s wise to regularly sanitize your kids’ toys with disinfecting wipes, especially during epidemics. But never forget to wash the toys with clean water before returning them to your kids, since the little ones tend to put everything in their mouths and may swallow the residual chemicals. This rule also applies to any food-contact surfaces like silverware or dishes.
To keep our family healthy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends daily disinfecting highly-touched surfaces, including “tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.” One thing to remember, however, is that follow the instructions when you use disinfectants. Otherwise, your efforts may be wasted.
If you run out of lens wipes, don’t try to use a disinfecting wipe as a substitute. As we mentioned earlier, the chemicals in disinfecting wipes can cause irritation to our skin. If they come in direct contact with your eyes, you may end up running to your doctor.
It’s so easy to use disinfecting wipes to clean and disinfect your leather couch or your car’s leather seats, but stop doing this again, as the alcohol in the wipes can cause the leather to lose its natural oils and become dry.
It’s not uncommon to use disinfecting wipes in the kitchen to disinfect, pick up crumbs, and remove tough cooking stains. But you really should think twice before using them on granite countertops. Why? Granite is a porous material, which is typically sealed for protection. Disinfecting Wipes can actually eat away the sealant, leaving that pretty granite surface at risk.
If your disinfecting wipes have dried out and the new ones in stores are not available, you can revive them in this way: pour 70% isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol into the canister, close the container tightly, and allow the wipes to absorb the alcohol completely before using.
Most Disinfecting wipes have a non-woven substrate that must be disposed of in a trash can. They should not be flushed down a toilet because this can cause clogs in pipes and septic systems.