Our world has becoming educated about basic protective measures against coronavirus — handwashing, social distancing and, yes, extensive cleaning. This extends beyond basic housekeeping to thoroughly addressing high-touch areas and anything coming into your home, such as deliveries or groceries. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has provided an exhaustive list of approved products (identified as ‘List N’) for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, many of which are represented in Parentology’s own curated coronavirus disinfectant list below. Here’s the 411 for which products to use during your deep cleans.
Cleaning vs Disinfecting
When disinfecting a surface, you’re using chemicals to kill germs. Ideally, these chemicals would be registered with the EPA. Killing germs doesn’t mean a surface is clean, but by disinfecting after cleaning, you are lowering the risk of spreading infection and pathogens.
There is a difference. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt and impurities from surfaces. Cleaning does not kill germs, but lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
The CDC recommends regularly disinfecting high-touch areas, which include tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks.
What is “Dwell Time”?
Dwell time refers to the amount of time a disinfectant needs to remain on a surface to effectively kill pathogens. Unless otherwise indicated by the EPA, the dwell time protocol for unknown pathogens is 10 minutes. Different dwell times don’t have anything to do with effectiveness, they just indicate how long a product will take to eliminate the virus or bacteria on a surface.
How to find products from ‘List N’
If a product is on the EPA-approved list, the product label will have an EPA registration number on it. If you’re searching on the site’s list, enter the first two sets of the number into the search bar. “For example, if EPA Reg. No. 12345-12 is on List N, you can buy EPA Reg. No. 12345-12-2567 and know you’re getting an equivalent product,” the site says. Alternately, look at a product’s label to confirm it has an EPA registration number and that human coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is listed as a targeted pathogen.
Top-Rated Coronavirus Disinfectant List
Windex Disinfectant Cleaner Multi-Surface
The multi-surface cleaner can be used on all hard, non-porous surfaces, including: bathroom surfaces, countertops, kitchen tables and glass. Windex is reported to kill 99.9% of germs, viruses, and bacteria when used as directed.
EPA Reg. Number: 4822-593
Lysol Disinfectant Spray
This non-bleach aerosol spray has a 10 minute dwell time. Lysol is ideal for high-touch areas, but while it can be used on both hard and soft surfaces, Lysol is only guaranteed to eliminate coronavirus on hard surfaces.
EPA Reg. Number: 777-99
Clorox Multi-Surface Cleaner + Bleach
A highly effective cleaner with only 1 minute dwell time. This product should only be used on hard surfaces and contains harsh fumes, so proper ventilation is recommended.
EPA Reg. Number: 5813-105
Lysol Kitchen Pro Antibacterial Cleaner
Safe on fabrics and soft surfaces, this spray is a non-bleach disinfectant, but only guaranteed to eliminate the coronavirus on hard surfaces such as countertops, sinks and stovetops.
EPA Reg. Number: 777-91
Clorox Disinfecting Wipes
These pre-soaked wipes need four minutes of contact time to neutralize pathogens. Effective and EPA-approved, these wipes kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria that can live on surfaces (including coronavirus and Influenza A2 Virus).
EPA Reg. Number: 5813-79
A key ingredient in homemade disinfectants that’s just as effective as other EPA-approved cleaning products. Be sure to dilute bleach in water according to recommended ratios, as it’s highly corrosive and the fumes can be noxious.
EPA Reg. Number: 5813-114
Making disinfectants at home
Can’t find Lysol in-store? You can create your own surface disinfectant by combining household bleach with water, then applying with a spray bottle or with paper towels. The ratio of bleach to water differs according to the source. For example, the CDC recommends ⅓ cup of bleach per gallon of water (4 teaspoons per quart). Note that bleach should only be applied to hard surfaces such as countertops, as it will damage fabrics and soft surfaces. For electronic devices, it’s recommended that you wipe them with a sanitizer cloth or use a product designed for electronics.
You can also try rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol or isopropanol) if you have it on hand. The CDC recommends that a solution composed of at least 70% alcohol will disinfect surfaces, which is the strength of most rubbing alcohol sold in drugstores. According to the CDC, alcohol will disinfect medical equipment in one minute. In a pinch, some grain alcohols and overproof liquor could work. The CDC considers ethanol (consumable alcohol) effective in concentrations of 70% or more.