The CDC Says You Should Never Disinfect This One Thing

The agency has a warning on its website reminding people not to disinfect this.

At the beginning of the pandemic, people were desperate to prevent the spread of COVID amid limited information on how to do so. That led many of us to start disinfecting everything in sight. From deliveries to doorknobs to hands, people were disinfecting any surface they could. As experts have learned more about the virus, it's become clear that we don't need to disinfect everything as vigorously as we once were. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says there's one thing in particular that you should never disinfect. Read on to learn what you need to keep the bleach away from, and for more guidance on cleaning, The CDC Now Says This Is the Only Time You Need to Disinfect Your Home.

You should never disinfect food or food packages.

Disinfecting package

While many people continue to cautiously handle their groceries and food packages purchased at the store, the CDC says that the practice is not necessary. You can stop wiping down each individual grocery every time you return home from shopping. The agency also includes a bolded warning in its guidance that says, "WARNING: do not use disinfecting products on food or food packaging." The CDC adds that you should not use "disinfectants designed for hard surfaces, such as bleach or ammonia, on food packaged in cardboard or plastic wrap." And for more on shopping safely, If Your Grocery Store Doesn't Have This, Don't Go Inside, CDC Says.

Overusing disinfectant can be dangerous for your health.

Disinfectant spray

During an April 19 Zoom event, the CDC noted they had some safety concerns about the incorrect use of cleaning and disinfecting products. According to the CDC, the public inquiries they've received suggest potential misuse of these products, including spraying disinfectants in the air, on clothes, or on skin. In 2020, the daily reported exposures to disinfectants that required a call to U.S. poison centers spiked. While the volume of calls has gone down in 2021, it remains higher than in previous years.

The CDC noted during the event that, per a survey the agency conducted, 19 percent of people had washed fruits, vegetables, or other food products with bleach, and 18 percent had used household cleaner on bare skin. The CDC warns that many chemical disinfectants can be harmful if they are unsafely handled or improperly used. And that certainly goes for using these products on items you intend to consume. And for more CDC warnings, If You Have 1 of These 8 Side Effects, the CDC Says "Seek Medical Care Urgently."

You should still wash your hands after grocery shopping.

Person washing their hands in a sink

While disinfecting your grocery items isn't necessary, the CDC does suggest taking other precautionary measures after you return from shopping to mitigate the spread of COVID. Per the CDC, "after shopping, handling food packages, or before preparing or eating food, it is important to always wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol." If you use reusable cloth bags, you should wash them after shopping and dry them on the warmest setting they can take, the CDC suggests. For more instructions from this agency, The CDC Says You Should Immediately Do This Once You've Been Vaccinated.

And you should still disinfect your kitchen as needed.

Cleaning home table sanitizing kitchen table surface with disinfectant spray bottle washing surfaces with towel and gloves. COVID-19 prevention sanitizing inside.

Although you don't have to disinfect the items you're bringing into your home, the CDC still recommends regularly cleaning your kitchen counters and using disinfectant products from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved list of disinfectants for COVID. The agency noted that before preparing food on the kitchen counter, you should rinse the disinfected surface with water.

While you may choose to disinfect kitchen surfaces or other high-touch surfaces, the CDC recently updated its guidance to say this isn't necessary unless someone with COVID was in your home. "Disinfection to reduce transmission of COVID-19 at home is likely not needed unless someone in your home is sick or if someone who is positive for COVID-19 has been in your home within the last 24 hours," per CDC guidance. However, you should continue to clean high-touch surfaces such as doorknobs, tables, handles, light switches, and countertops regularly with soap and water, the agency says. And for more useful information delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

The CDC also recommends taking precautions while grocery shopping.

woman in grocery store shopping for sauces

To help protect yourself, grocery store workers, and other shoppers, the CDC wants you to take a few precautions, including wearing a mask and practicing social distance while shopping. The agency also notes that you can "carry your own wipes, or use one provided by the store to wipe down the handles of the shopping cart or basket." To help limit the time you spend inside the store, the CDC suggests going with a list of what you need to buy. And for more of the latest guidance, The CDC Says Don't Do This Until 4 Weeks After Getting Vaccinated.

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