7 Cleaning Supplies That Don't Actually Kill Coronavirus
These store-bought products and homemade solutions aren't powerful enough to protect you.
Some sellers and holistic living gurus are using the COVID-19 pandemic to push products that they claim will kill coronavirus but aren't actually effective. While false advertising is always ethically troubling, misinformation is even more dangerous now, as families are trying to stay safe and healthy. Additionally, many homemade solutions that people have trusted for years to keep their homes clean aren't powerful enough for this job. The same goes for some store-brought products that aren't being falsely marketed, but that some may have assumed would work in these extraordinary circumstances. There are many popular cleaning supplies that don't kill coronavirus, and you may still be using some of them.
To ensure that people are making informed purchases, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) created a list of products that meet their criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. After analyzing this list, talking with experts, and looking at the products making bold coronavirus-fighting claims, we've compiled this list of products that won't kill COVID-19. And for more of what not to do, check out 7 Disinfecting Mistakes You're Probably Making and Tips to Fix Them.
Solutions with less than 70 percent alcohol
The biggest risk when it comes to people concocting their own cleaning solutions at home is that if the measurements are off even slightly, the solution will not be effective. "Alcohol solutions need to contain at least 70 percent alcohol to be effective on hard surfaces against the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19. If you want to use alcohol to clean, make sure it's 70 percent isopropyl alcohol," cleaning expert and national spokesperson for the American Cleaning Institute, Brian Sansoni, previously told Best Life. So if you plan on making your own mixture with the rubbing alcohol (and not the drinking alcohol!) in your house, be sure to follow directions closely.
Vinegar cleaning solutions
"Although many people rely on homemade vinegar-based products, acetic acid is not an EPA recognized disinfectant against SARS-CoV-2," says Christian Gonzalez, ND, and non-toxic living expert. Homemade vinegar solutions are often touted as mimicking disinfectants, but there's no science to back up those claims. So until the coronavirus pandemic passes, opt for powerful disinfectants that will keep your home virus-free. And for more cleaning tips, check out 15 Expert Tips for Disinfecting Your House for Coronavirus.
If you swear by essential oils and their alleged benefits, you should seriously rethink using them to protect yourself from the coronavirus. "Although many essential oils have been shown to have antimicrobial properties, they have not been studied against SARS-CoV-2," says Gonzalez. You should also be suspicious about any virus-fighting claims that come from sellers on Etsy and other peer-to-peer sites. Stick to disinfectants endorsed by the FDA.
Those wipes you keep in your car or purse won't kill coronavirus, or any virus for that matter. The official Wet Ones website directly addresses this in its FAQ, saying that while the wipes "have been tested for their ability to kill bacteria…they have not been tested against viruses, including coronavirus." To be safe, stick to using these wipes for sticky fingers and car spills rather than disinfecting. For more advice, check out Is It Safe to Sanitize Your Phone? Here's What You Can't Disinfect.
Baking soda cleaners
While baking soda has many wonderful uses, killing coronavirus is not one of them. Gonzalez confirms that sodium bicarbonate isn't an effective disinfectant, however, he does point out that sodium carbonate (ash soda) or washing soda can be, under the right conditions. On the EPA's list, sodium carbonate appears with other essential compounds, such as quaternary ammonium, so you'll want to make sure any solution you use has all the ingredients needed to make it effective. And to learn about about a risky coronavirus carrier, check out This One Item You Touch Every Day Puts You Most at Risk of Coronavirus.
The wipes you use on your baby's bottom won't kill coronavirus, and that's for the best. You wouldn't want the harsh chemicals needed to destroy the virus touching your child's sensitive skin. Don't rely on baby wipes to do the job of a powerful disinfect—you'll need to purchase a separate, appropriate product for that.
Thieves Household Cleaner
Per CNBC, there are online claims that this essential oil-based cleaner sold through multi-level marketing will "kill germs." However, there is no scientific proof that Thieves Household Cleaner can kill any viruses—let alone the coronavirus.
It seems that many of these posts come from lower-level product sellers rather than the company itself. "We are taking this situation very seriously and working closely with our members regarding proper communications specifically when it comes to our Thieves line," Matt French, Young Living's chief legal and compliance officer, told the outlet. "We do not claim and would never encourage members to claim any product 'kills' coronavirus or can prevent COVID-19." So if you see these claims made on social media, just keep scrolling.