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Home Cleaning Safety

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cleaning is removing dirt and some germs from objects and surfaces. Disinfecting eliminates germs on surfaces and objects, and sanitizing lowers germs to a safe level.

woman cleaning with yellow gloves on

Products that say “disinfectant” must meet government specifications. Look for an EPA Registration Number and specifically follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

According to the American Cleaning Institute there are three types of disinfectants:

  • EPA-Registered Chlorine Bleach is effective when properly mixed with water and used on clean surfaces.
  • EPA-Registered Disinfectant Cleaners contain ingredients that can remove dirt as they kill germs.
  • EPA-Registered Disinfectants are effective to use on clean surfaces.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Cleaning Products


  • Clean your surfaces first. You cannot disinfect dirt. Unless you are using a disinfectant cleaner, you must clean surfaces first.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s directions. Labels on EPA-Registered Chlorine Bleach will provide directions for mixing it with water.
  • Clean frequently used surfaces often throughout the day such as door knobs, TV remotes, keyboards, refrigerator handles, light switches, key chains and cell phones.
  • Immediately wash in hot water with chlorine bleach and dry on high heat, any rags used for cleaning. If using paper towels immediately throw them in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect children’s toys. Wash stuffed animals and favorite blankets in hot water, with chlorine bleach, if you can. Dry on high heat.
  • Use gloves when using disinfectants to minimize the irritation to your hands.


  • Don’t mix cleaners unless the label says you can. Mixing bleach with vinegar or ammonia will create toxic fumes that when inhaled can cause coughing, shortness of breath and even chest pains. Mixing bleach with rubbing alcohol creates chloroform which is highly toxic.
  • Don’t use cleaning products for anything other than the intended purpose as stated on the label. All-purpose cleaners can be used on multiple surfaces but check the label to see what that manufacturer recommends.
  • Don’t store products where children and pets can reach them. Keep the products in their original containers. If mixing a chlorine bleach and a water solution, clearly mark the container.
  • Don’t use any surfaces that aren’t completely dry after disinfecting. Don’t allow pets or children to come into contact while the surface is drying.
  • Finally, remember proper hand washing is the best way to minimize the spread of germs.