Sanitizing wipes are designed to kill germs on surfaces like doorknobs and countertops. They’re a great alternative to hand sanitizer, but ensure you use them properly.

Look for EPA-registered disinfectants on the label. The wipes should stay on nonporous surfaces for at least four minutes—or however long the manufacturer suggests—for the best results.

They’re Effective

Cleaning removes most germs from surfaces, but sanitizing and disinfecting kill any harmful viruses and bacteria. Disinfecting wipes are pre-moistened with a solution specially formulated to clean, deodorize, and sanitize hard surfaces in your home. Disinfecting wipes come in regular scrubbing applicators, making them an easy way to tackle messes on all sorts of hard-to-clean characters in your home.

When choosing a sanitizing wipe, look for an EPA-registered label and read the directions carefully. Wipes are made with different materials and can vary in thickness, so selecting a formula that works for your cleaning surface is essential. The EPA requires that all disinfectant products be tested on different types of surfaces and under certain conditions for specific dwell times. This ensures that the product is effective on the surface it’s intended for and safe for the skin or hands.

Wipes should never be flushed down toilets, even if labeled “flushable.” This can cause clogs and lead to sewer spills affecting our waterways. It’s also a good use of money. Toss used wipes in the trash instead of putting them in a recycling bin, and never use wipes to wash produce, as they can leave a residue that can contaminate your food.

They’re portable

When you’re on the go, sanitizing wipes are easy to take with you. They fit in your pocket, purse, or bag and are a quick way to clean up any spills or wipe off a sticky hand.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends disinfecting frequently-touched surfaces like tables, door knobs, light switches, and countertops to help reduce the spread of germs and prevent illness. These same areas can also host the COVID-19 virus and other infectious agents, so it’s essential to have an effective disinfectant.

Disinfectant wipes are ideal for high-touch areas in the home, office, and other public spaces. These handy cleansing tools can quickly and effectively sanitize surfaces like kitchen counters, doorknobs, faucet handles, remotes, and cell phones. They can also help sanitize other hard-to-reach places, such as toilet seats, bowls, and sinks.

When choosing sanitizing wipes, look for the words “disinfectant” on the package and check the label’s EPA registration number to ensure it kills bacteria, viruses, and mold. Also, be aware that some products contain irritants to the skin or may not be appropriate for children.

Once you’ve finished using a sanitizing wipe, dispose of it properly. Never flush it down the toilet, as this can clog pipes and cause sewage backups, which is terrible for the environment and human health. Wipes can also clog drains, so they should be placed in a trash bin that won’t contaminate other items or the surrounding area.

They’re Easy to Use

Sanitizing wipes are pre-moistened towelettes that contain a sanitizing or disinfecting formula to clean and kill germs on surfaces, hands, and skin. They’re easier to use than sprays or towels and are packaged in convenient containers for one-wipe use.

Wipes are especially effective in high-touch areas where germs can hide, such as doorknobs, light switches, and keyboards. They also make a good cleaning option for high-traffic bathroom surfaces, such as toilet seats and handles. And sanitizing wipes can help reduce the spread of infection during cold and flu season by quickly disinfecting frequently touched surfaces in homes, schools, and offices.

However, sanitizing wipes aren’t a substitute for regular cleaning with soap and water or diluted disinfectant solutions such as chlorine bleach or 70 percent alcohol. Wipes can leave behind residue and don’t work as well on greasy or sticky surfaces.

When using sanitizing wipes, follow all directions and recommendations on the label. Some brands have a warning not to use them on broken or irritated skin, while others require rinsing with water afterward to avoid irritation. And remember that most wipes are not flushable, so they can clog pipes and cause overflows in sewer systems, where they may be carried to lakes, rivers, or oceans.

Also, please pay attention to the product’s EPA label to ensure it is approved to kill specific germs. For example, sanitizing wipes with benzalkonium chloride is only authorized to kill bacteria, while those with quaternary ammonium or sodium hypochlorite are also effective against viruses.

They’re Safe

Those convenient, easy-to-grab wipes you keep at home and work don’t just clean surfaces—they kill viruses and germs. But you need to ensure you’re using the right disinfecting wipes correctly and know how long they need to stay wet to be effective.

Disinfectant wipes with benzalkonium chloride or quaternary ammonium can kill bacteria, fungi, and mold on hard, nonporous surfaces. The EPA keeps a list of approved disinfectants; you can search by the product’s registration number on their website. Those with quaternary ammonium or sodium hypochlorite can also kill the COVID-19 virus on soft surfaces like fabric.

Wipes meant to sanitize hands are labeled as such, and you’re supposed to use them to clean your fingers and the back of your hand but not your face or other areas. They’re not designed to be used as baby wipes; you should rinse your hands afterward. You’ll want to check the label for specific instructions.

Most conventional disinfecting sprays and wipes contain bleach or quats to kill germs and fragrances to mask the smell of these harsh chemicals. While they help kill the germs that make us sick, prolonged exposure to these chemicals can damage your lungs over time. That’s why some people prefer using natural disinfecting wipes or sprays, which rely on plant-based ingredients.