Disinfectant wipes contain a germ-killing solution that kills bacteria and viruses on surfaces. Look for an EPA number on the label to make sure it will do the job. Many disinfectant wipes contain bleach and quats, which can trigger asthma in children. These ingredients can also cause gastrointestinal irritation when swallowed.

They Kill Germs

Disinfectant wipes are convenient and easy to use, which explains why so many people keep them in their kitchens or include them among back-to-school supplies. However, some disinfectant wipes can be dangerous if you need help understanding how they work and using them correctly. If you find an EPA number on a packet of wipes, the wipes are designed to kill bacteria and viruses, and the product underwent testing to prove it. When using disinfectant wipes, ensure they remain visibly wet for a little while after you apply them. The time needed will vary, but it’s best to check the EPA website for specific guidelines.

Some disinfectant wipes also contain bleach or quats to kill germs and fragrances to make them smell less harsh. This combination creates fumes that can irritate the lungs and nose of children, especially infants and toddlers. Chronic exposure can damage the respiratory system over time, like smoking a pack of cigarettes daily. It’s important to store disinfectant wipes away from kids. The chemicals in them can be irritating, and you don’t want young hands grabbing the drying disinfectant and putting it in their mouths. Additionally, cleaning tasks involving food should be done with regular soap and water rather than disinfectant. Even a quick swipe of disinfectant over an apple can leave a harmful residue that could contaminate the next produce batch.

They’re Safe for Your Hands

You’ve probably used disinfectant wipes in bulk in the kitchen, on door handles, and other surfaces around your home. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has authorized these EPA-registered pre-moistened, pre-packaged towelettes to eliminate germs and viruses on hard, nonporous surfaces. Most disinfecting wipes contain bleach, other chemicals that kill germs, and fragrances for a pleasant scent. These chemicals, though, can be harmful when they come into contact with the skin. When people use wipes on their hands or other parts of their bodies, they can put themselves at risk for chemical burns or a skin reaction triggered by these harsh ingredients. Kids and infants are at particular risk because of their developing lungs and smaller, more sensitive skin.

The good news is that the toxic chemicals won’t remain on your hands if you wash your hands with soap and water after using disinfectant wipes. You can also choose hand sanitizer or a disinfectant spray if you’re on the go and soap isn’t available. Alternatively, you can clean your hands and other body parts with wet paper towels or microfiber cloths that don’t contain chemical disinfectants. Or, you can use sanitizer that contains gentle ingredients, such as alcohol or eucalyptus oil. These products kill germs without stripping your skin’s natural oils. 

They’re Not Made for Fabrics

The disinfectant solution in cleaning wipes is designed to kill germs on hard surfaces like stainless steel or glass. These surfaces are where the majority of bacteria and viruses stay. Wipes can’t work on soft surfaces like fabric, which suck up moisture and won’t stay wet long enough to kill the germs. The wipes are usually made of either biodegradable nonwoven fabric or plastic-based materials that are thermally bonded to cotton fibers. They can also contain antiseptic or alcohol solutions. The most common antiseptic solution contains quaternary ammonium compounds with good cleaning and disinfection properties against bacteria and enveloped viruses. When using the wipes, you should always follow the instructions on the package. Some wipes require a certain amount of time to dry, which is important to prevent mold or mildew growth.

You should not use disinfectant wipes around children if they come into contact with them because some contain chemicals that can cause respiratory irritation and even burns to the skin. These ingredients can also damage a child’s developing lungs, increasing the likelihood of asthma and allergies. Please do not dispose of old wipes in the garbage or flush them down the toilet, as they may block pipes and create sewage backup in your house or your city’s water supply. Instead, throw them away in the general waste bin.

They’re Not for Toys

Disinfectant wipes are a useful tool in many homes. They consist of pre-moistened fabric towelettes that contain disinfectants and other substances such as perfumes and preservatives. Each wipe has a fixed amount of disinfectant, reducing the potential for human error if people were to mix and dilute disinfectants themselves. Disinfectant wipes are available in grocery stores and big box retailers. The key to using disinfectant wipes effectively is to follow the label directions. Many cleaning and disinfectant products contain chemicals that can harm children’s sensitive skin, so read the labels carefully. Most disinfectant wipes are effective against bacteria, but not all can kill viruses such as the COVID-19 virus. Read the label closely to see what types of microbes each kind of disinfectant can kill.

If your children are particularly fond of toys, clean and sanitize them regularly. It will help to minimize the spread of germs and keep your kids in tip-top playing condition. When washing toys, use a mild soap such as liquid hand soap or bar soap and warm water. Washing with soapy water for 20 seconds can help to kill germs and is one of the best ways to prevent the transfer of bacteria, viruses, and other organisms from hands to toys. After washing, rinse the toys with potable water and allow them to air dry.