Home Topics Cleaning Cleaning Products
Kimberly HollandUpdated: Mar. 29, 2023
Antibacterial wipes are a time-crunched cleaner's best friend, but here are 10 things you should never use them on.
Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.
Issarawat Tattong/Getty Images
If the disinfectant is good for doorknobs and kitchen surfaces, it should be good for your hands, right? Not so fast, Cameron says. “Never clean your hands with antibacterial wipes before or while eating, because the wipes leave a residue on the skin,” she says. “Plus, not all the microbes and bacteria will wipe away. The alcohol may irritate the skin, too.”
What to use instead: There’s no replacement for thoroughly washing your hands! “Stop the spread of germs by washing your hands with soap and warm water,” says Cameron. And don’t confuse antibacterial wipes designed for your hands with the disinfecting wipes for homes and offices, according to Brian Sansoni, vice president of communications for the American Cleaning Institute.“Hand wipes are a convenient way to keep your hands clean when you are away from soap and water,” he says. Next, find out the things you’ve never cleaned but need to ASAP.
Don’t Waste Your Wipes
As people around the world become vastly more attentive to cleaning, they’re buying antibacterial wipes as fast as retailers can keep them stocked. People are using them to wipe down everything, in hopes of making their homes a little cleaner and safer. And, of course, we get it — they’re certainly easy to use. While it’s a great cleaning tool, there are lots of potentially surprising things that you shouldn’t use them to clean. Of course, we still love wipes. Here’s why Clorox wipes are so good at killing germs.
Anything That Absorbs Moisture
To kill bacteria, antibacterial solutions often need to sit for several minutes. If the surface is soft — foam or carpet, for example — it won’t stay wet long enough to be effective. Don’t try multiple wipes; the moisture could damage the surface. To learn how long a surface must be wet to be sterilized, check the bottle, says Jason Courtney, owner of Office Pride cleaning service in Pensacola, Fla. “Every kind of wipe has a ‘kill claim’ on the back, which indicates what it will kill in a certain amount of time,” he says. “In a lab, wipes are tested for everything from hepatitis B to influenza to staphylococcus. If the wipe kills the germ, it can be listed on the container. How long the surface must remain wet to kill the germ is spelled out on the container, too.”
What to use instead: Hydrogen peroxide. There are all sorts of ways to clean your carpet that won’t damage it. Of course, make sure to vacuum your carpet. But if you’re targeting specific stains, hydrogen peroxide is a good catch-all. For this solution, combine a teaspoon of three percent hydrogen peroxide (a higher concentration might bleach your carpets) with a little cream of tartar or a dab of non-gel toothpaste. (Always do a spot test first.) Make sure you’ve brushed up on all of the handy ways to remove carpet stains.
If you think a swipe of an antibacterial wipe on a kitchen counter that just had raw chicken is enough to keep your family safe, think again. “Kitchen counters are hot spots for germs and bacteria, and cleaning them using only antibacterial wipes isn’t nearly enough,” says Lily Cameron, cleaning and organizing professional and supervisor at Fantastic Services.
What to use instead: Soapy hot water and a sponge to disinfect your counters, Cameron says. Just make sure you’re properly cleaning (or frequently replacing) your sponge, one of the germiest items in your kitchen.
Bathroom Countertops and Fixtures
Your bathroom sees a lot of bacteria day in and day out, and a quick swipe with an antibacterial wipe isn’t doing much to keep bacteria growth at bay. “To kill bacteria effectively, a disinfectant needs to stay on the surface for about five to ten minutes,” Cameron says. “Cleaning with antibacterial wipes leaves the surface dry less than five minutes for sure. Overusing of such wipes may expose your family to harmful chemicals without the germ-destroying benefit.”
What to use instead: Comet Disinfecting Bathroom Cleaner. Thiscleaning product professional house cleaners swear by is some stronger stuff that’ll power through soap scum, hard water and whatever else your bathroom can throw at it. And yet it’s gentle and won’t harm your surfaces!Learn the 13 secrets of people who always have a clean house.
The chemicals and other ingredients in antibacterial wipes can do damage to some of your home’s surfaces over time. This includes hardwoods, which might lose their shine after repeated scrubs. They can also be damaged by moisture. “Wood surfaces need to dry quickly, but wipes leave the surfaces relatively wet, so that is counterproductive,” says Alberto Navarrete, general manager of Frisco Maids in Dallas.
Greg Shepard, founder of Dallas Maids home cleaning, also in Dallas, says: “With wood, less is more. Wood floors, furniture, and wood trimming should not be cleaned often with products because with frequent cleanings the finish dulls over time. This goes double with bacterial wipes because they contain alcohol, which damages wood’s finish.”
What to use instead: Pine-Sol, which safely cleans wood surfaces and leaves them shining. Plus it’s got a disinfectant component that keeps things germ-free. By the way, here’s the exact difference between cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting.
Eric Hernandez/Getty Images
Wiping Down the Whole Kitchen
If you’re tempted to take a wipe from the canister and quickly move from your stove to your fridge to your microwave to your sink — stop yourself. Antibacterial wipes are not meant to clean large areas. And if you use them for multiple spaces, you may make a bacteria problem worse. “Never use one antibacterial wipe to clean more than one surface,” Cameron says. “A dirty wipe has germs remaining on it and can transport bacteria to another location.”
What to use instead: One wipe per surface, then toss it. It might seem wasteful and you’d rather conserve wipes, especially when they’re in short supply. But using the same wipe for your entire kitchen is one of the cleaning mistakes that actually make your home dirtier.
Surfaces With a Sealant
The chemicals and acids in antibacterial wipes can eat away at the polish of sealed surfaces, like marble and granite. They may make the surfaces look dull, even scratched.
What to use instead: Look for specially-designed sealers for these surfaces. Or use plain soap and water, which is highly effective as a multi-purpose cleaner. Speaking of multi-purpose cleaners, these are the 10 things you should never clean with a Magic Eraser.
Here’s that alcohol problem again: Many disinfectant or antibacterial wipes contain it, and alcohol can dehydrate supple leather. Repeated use may leave your leather goods looking dry and chalky.
What to use instead: A gentle leather cleaner, like baby soap. Put a few drops into a quart or so of water. When you’re finished cleaning, go over the leather again with a clean, damp sponge to remove any soapy residue. And if you do use disinfecting wipes on leather, read the label and make sure it doesn’t contain alcohol. Find out which household products kill the coronavirus.
When you wipe a surface with an antibacterial wipe, you see a gratifying smudge of grime on the white rag. What you don’t see is what’s left behind — chemicals. “The major reason that I believe that people should not use antibacterial wipes as an everyday go-to wipe is that we are seeing an increase in antibiotic-resistant bacteria,” says John Manolas, a chemist and co-owner of Whyte Gate. “Some of the blame for this phenomenon goes to antibacterial soaps and wipes. Most surfaces will probably be equally germ-free after regular cleaning with soap and water or other household cleaners.” Manolas also stresses that parents shouldn’t use the wipes on children’s toys because kids are likely to put the toys in their mouths.
What to use instead: Vinegar and water. Add half a cup of vinegar to a gallon of water and wipe down the toys with the solution. If the toy is waterproof, you should soak it in the vinegar solution for at least 15 minutes to kill any bacteria. Rinse it thoroughly and let it air-dry. It’s a great non-toxic way to clean toys. Make sure to disinfect baby toys regularly. If the toys still smell like vinegar once they’re dry, be sure to rinse them out again. On the other hand, find out some things youshouldn’tclean with vinegar.
Andreas von Einsiedel/Getty Images
You can dull the beautiful finish of lacquered chairs and desks by using these alcohol-containing wipes. The same is true for any woodwork in your home, such as staircase railings or chair molding, which may have a high-sheen lacquer finish.
What to use instead: Gentle soap and warm water; this is another one you shouldn’t overthink. Put one teaspoon of soap into a half-gallon of water and use a damp — not dripping — cloth. By the way, did you know about these ways you haven’t been using bleach — but should?
Originally Published: February 09, 2021
Originally Published on Reader's Digest
Kimberly Holland is a lifestyle writer and editor based in Birmingham, Alabama. When not organizing her books by color, Holland enjoys toying with new kitchen gadgets and feeding her friends all her cooking experiments.
10 Things You Should Never Clean With Antibacterial Wipes? ›
Like most disinfectants, Clorox wipes are approved for disinfecting only non-porous surfaces. It's best to avoid unfinished, unsealed, unpainted, waxed, oiled, or worn surfaces. Avoid cleaning carpet or fabric with the wipes, too, since it won't work, and you'll have to extract the cleaning agent from the fabric.What not to clean with disinfecting wipes? ›
Like most disinfectants, Clorox wipes are approved for disinfecting only non-porous surfaces. It's best to avoid unfinished, unsealed, unpainted, waxed, oiled, or worn surfaces. Avoid cleaning carpet or fabric with the wipes, too, since it won't work, and you'll have to extract the cleaning agent from the fabric.Is it OK to wipe with antibacterial wipes? ›
Disinfecting wipes are intended to be used by hand and because of this, they are relatively safe when used properly. However, they are not meant to be chewed on or swallowed. Also, specialized cleaning wipes, like bathroom wipes, may be harsher on the mouth or throat than kitchen wipes.What are the bad ingredients in antibacterial wipes? ›
Most disinfecting wipes contain bleach or chemicals called Quaternary Ammonium Compounds, or Quats for short. Quats are antimicrobial chemicals that kill germs, but also present health risks like asthma and asthma attacks, allergic reactions, hormone-disruption and general skin and eye irritation.
Using antibacterial wipes in the bathroom is especially good for toilet handles and bath aids such as boards, shower stools, toilet seats and grab rails. The wipes can take a few minutes to work, but unlike soap and water it will kill germs, rather than reduce them.Can you use disinfecting wipes on private parts? ›
Disinfecting Wipes are NOT Skin-Friendly
Sanitizing and disinfecting wipes are fine to touch while you're cleaning with them, but they should never be used to clean hands or other body parts.
Can you use antibacterial wipes on your private parts? You should never use antibacterial wipes on your private parts. They may contain sodium percarbonate, which is very harmful for your vagina's flora and moisture. It contains an irritant and has corrosive activity, which will cause severe, painful burns.Can I wipe my armpits with antibacterial wipes? ›
If you have no opportunity immediately to take a shower but feel sweaty you could wipe your armpits with a small amount of antibacterial gel or antibacterial wipes or baby wipes. This will help reduce the smell of sweat by cleaning or killing the bacteria that cause it.Can I wipe my bum with antibacterial hand wipes? ›
Disinfectant wipes: These wipes will de-germ the high-touch areas of your bike, including the handlebars and the resistance knob. We like Clorox Disinfecting Wipes. Avoid disinfectants that contain bleach, which can damage surfaces and your skin.What are the side effects of antibacterial wipes? ›
They can cause eye, skin and respiratory irritation. The fragrances and active ingredient and in these wipes (alkyl dimethyl-benzyl ammonium chloride; a quaternary ammonium compound or “quat” for short) can trigger allergic reactions and asthma. They have also been linked to hormone disruption and reproductive issues.
Are antibacterial wipes safe to use as toilet paper? ›
Flushing it down the toilet
“The wipes are thicker than toilet paper and don't break down as easily, and can get caught up in the pipes, causing potential blockages—or worse, overflow!” explains Turley. Learn more about which toilet paper alternatives will and won't clog your toilet.
Our top pick, Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, sanitizes and disinfects hard, non-porous surfaces. It's bleach-free and safe to use on fabrics and wood, too. For something even more budget-friendly, consider Great Value Cleaning Wipes. Although they may be a bit thin, they're also effective on viruses and bacteria.Can antibacterial wipes be used on face? ›
Don't use disinfecting wipes to clean your hands, face, or any other body part. Instead, reach for skin-friendly sanitizing wipes. They're a safe alternative and are specifically designed with human skin in mind.What is the best thing to disinfect a toilet with? ›
The experts we talked to recommended any cleaner with some form of bleach, but you can find plenty of bleach alternatives, as well. I personally use Lysol Hydrogen Peroxide Toilet Bowl Cleaner. A bucket: To ensure that the entire bowl gets clean, you need to reduce the water level before applying the cleaner.What do you clean and disinfect your toilet bowl with? ›
When it comes to toilet bowl disinfecting, I only use one ingredient: hydrogen peroxide or vinegar. Simply attach a spray nozzle on the hydrogen peroxide bottle or vinegar bottle (if your vinegar bottle is bulk-size, just pour the vinegar into the toilet bowl or pour the vinegar into a separate spray bottle).What kills bacteria in bathroom? ›
Keep those surfaces clean with vacuuming, sweeping, and where appropriate, soap and warm water. For surfaces that can tolerate it, including the toilets, a quick disinfectant can be made with one cup of bleach in a gallon of water and used to kill germs on the spot.Can you use wet wipes on your vag? ›
In short, yes! If it helps you feel more clean and fresh, that is certainly okay. There are also wipes made for women, sometimes referred to as feminine hygiene wipes but there's nothing wrong with using baby wipes.What can I use to keep my private parts clean? ›
- Use your hands to clean your vulva.
- Use mild soaps or soap substitutes.
- Pat your genitals dry.
- Use a bland barrier cream if the skin feels irritated or to protect it from irritation caused by moisture.
Item No. 490908. COMPANION™ Disinfectant Wipes are ready-to-use wipes that effectively clean, disinfect and control odor in one step. COMPANION Disinfectant Wipes clean by removing tough soils such as dirt, fecal material, blood, urine, and mildew — leaving behind a fresh citrus scent.Should you use baby wipes after you poop? ›
In such cases, you can use baby wipes or wet wipes that are gentler on the skin. Try to avoid overuse of these, as they can worsen irritation over time. Or, wet toilet paper or a wet washcloth can usually do the trick.
How do you disinfect your private part? ›
To clean the vulva, people can wash the external area with warm water. If they wish to, they can use a mild, unscented soap. Afterward, they should rinse the vulva thoroughly and then pat the area dry.What to do if you still smell after a shower? ›
After your shower or bath, apply an antiperspirant and deodorant. Most over-the-counter antiperspirants contain aluminum-based compounds that block your body's eccrine glands, preventing you from sweating. Deodorants repel the bacteria that cause odor, and may contain an additional fragrance.Why do my armpits smell even after I shower? ›
Smelly armpits occur when bacteria break down the otherwise odorless sweat on your skin. Some people sweat more than others and have a condition called hyperhidrosis. This excess sweating can lead to body odor.Can you wipe your bum with alcohol wipes? ›
Use wet wipes.
For quick cleanups, use baby wipes which are gentle enough to be used on the inflamed anus. Don't use wipes that contain alcohol or fragrance.
Wiping Front to Back
If you don't have any physical limitations preventing you from reaching around your body to wipe from front to back, it's generally considered the safer route to go. You'll be moving feces away from your more delicate parts, lowering the risk of infection.
Antiseptic and alcohol wipes are not the same. Antiseptic wipes are more common in medical settings. They're mainly used to clean wounds before dressing. Alcohol wipes, on the other hand, are used to disinfect surfaces.What hand should you wipe your bum with? ›
Wiping buttocks by hand
During excretion, the left hand is used to wipe the buttocks.
Baby wipes do not kill a significant number of germs because they are meant to be gentle on a baby's bottom. Household wipes contain disinfecting ingredients like sodium hypochlorite, but baby wipes are water-based and contain no active germ-killing ingredients.What can you use anti bacterial wipes for? ›
The main benefit of antibacterial wipes is that they are efficient in disinfecting surfaces. Whether you are using them to clean down kitchen surfaces, work desks or just wiping your hands, antibacterial hand wipes are very effective.Do baby wipes fight bacteria? ›
So, are baby wipes good for cleaning and sanitizing? The answer is no. As ingredients like alcohol and sodium hypochlorite are prime ingredients in disinfectant wipes, and baby wipes contain no sodium hypochlorite and little to no alcohol, they don't meet the criteria of a disinfectant.
Is it better to clean with wipes or toilet paper? ›
From a hygiene perspective, wet wipes win. For a more effective clean, wet wipes win hands down. For a more soothing and gentle cleansing experience, we'll have to go with wet wipes again. From a cost perspective, toilet paper comes out ahead.Do you use wipes after toilet paper? ›
Using moist toilet tissue first to clean, then using toilet paper to pat the area dry afterward. Using dry toilet paper to wipe, then following up with a flushable wet wipe for a more thorough clean and a refreshing feeling.What can I use instead of toilet paper to wipe? ›
- Baby wipes.
- Sanitary pad.
- Reusable cloth.
- Napkins and tissue.
- Towels and washcloths.
- Safety and disposal.
Mix 2 parts rubbing alcohol with 1 part water to create our homemade disinfectant. Then pour the mixture into your spray bottle. Hold the bottle 6 inches away from your furniture and lightly mist your sofas, loveseats, chairs, etc. Allow your furniture to dry before you sit.How long do antibacterial wipes last? ›
Disinfectant Sprays and Wipes
Expect about a 12-month lifespan from store-bought disinfectants. This is when the chemical disinfectant may begin to degrade. Don't expect to see an official expiration date printed on the package, however.
Hygenex Disinfectant Wipes do exactly that.
Triamine tricks germs into 'seeing' a different molecule so they are less likely to build up resistance. Meanwhile, DDAC is an antiseptic disinfectant often used in hospitals for biocidal applications.
When you start feeling icky, but can barely find time to pee, let alone shower, baby wipes are a great way to get a quick and easy refresh. For example, you can use the wipes to cleanse your face, clear sweat from your neck and armpits, and freshen up intimate areas.Should I wash my hands after using Clorox wipes? ›
And, many popular disinfectant wipes contain some pretty harsh chemicals that can cause other acute side effects like skin and eye irritation. There's a reason that the fine print on the package frequently recommends that you wash your hands immediately after use!Can you use disinfecting wipes in microwave? ›
Any time you use a disinfecting wipe on a food-contact surface, a potable water rinse is required before using the area for food prep. Microwave interiors are very difficult to safely rinse thoroughly with water, so that's why the inside of a microwave is not a recommended use site for disinfecting wipes.Is it OK to leave bleach in toilet overnight? ›
Leaving bleach in a toilet overnight is fine, but you shouldn't leave it any longer, or else it might corrode your toilet. If you do decide to leave it in the bowl overnight, let other members of your household know so that they don't use the toilet and accidentally mix the bleach with ammonia from urine.
Will vinegar disinfect a toilet? ›
You can use straight or a diluted vinegar cleaning solution for the bathroom to clean bacteria, especially around the toilet. Cleaning with a mixture of baking soda and vinegar in the bathroom can work really well. To clean your toilet with vinegar, pour a cup of vinegar in the toilet bowl and let sit overnight.How do I completely disinfect my bathroom? ›
One option is to combine a quart of water with a teaspoon of bleach in a spray bottle. Other necessary supplies include a toilet bowl brush, a mop, a cleaning cloth and/or disposable paper towels, white vinegar, baking soda, a plastic bag, a rubber band and household gloves. Spray all surfaces with disinfectant.How do you disinfect a toilet naturally? ›
The most commonly recommended natural and non-toxic way to clean a toilet is with vinegar and baking soda. Simply poor two cups of vinegar into a toilet bowl, and pour one cup of baking soda. When the solution stops fizzing, spread it over the bowl with a toilet cleaner brush. Leave for 10-15 minutes and rinse.How do I disinfect my bathroom sink and toilet? ›
To disinfect the sink, use a disinfectant spray and thoroughly wet the surface. Wait at least 10 minutes before wiping the solution away.How do you disinfect a toilet bowl naturally? ›
Smallin Kuper prefers to pour one cup of baking soda and one cup of distilled white vinegar directly into the toilet bowl for similar sanitized-and-sparkling results.Where is the most bacteria in a bathroom? ›
Most bathroom germs predictably start in the toilet, but they can easily spread to other parts of the room (like a toothbrush holder). “Over the course of a day, the first thing that shows up is fecal bacteria—microbes from your gut—transmitted to the toilet seat and things like that.What part of the bathroom has the most bacteria? ›
Studies have shown that of all the surface areas in the bathroom, the floor is by far the dirtiest. That's because when we flush the toilet germs spread everywhere, and land on—you guessed it—the floor.What is the most common bacteria found in a bathroom? ›
E. Coli, Salmonella and Staphylococcus Aureus are three of the biggest bathroom culprits. These germs and bacteria are found across bathroom surfaces like toilets, bathroom floors and shower curtains.Is it OK to clean dishes with Clorox wipes? ›
Clorox wipes can disinfect dishes, but they leave chemical residues that are dangerous to ingest. Never use Clorox wipes on items that will be used to serve food or beverages! Most dishwashers get hot enough to kill germs. If you don't have a dishwasher, wash dishes thoroughly with soap and water and air dry.What not to clean with alcohol wipes? ›
Don't Clean Certain Surfaces With Rubbing Alcohol
Avoid rubbing alcohol on painted, shellacked, lacquered, or varnished surfaces, including treated wood.
Can I use disinfecting wipes on dishes? ›
Dishes and Food Containers – Don't use a disinfectant wipe to clean anything that touches your mouth, including utensils, dishes, and glassware. The chemicals in the wipes could be harmful if ingested.Can you use disinfecting wipes on food surfaces? ›
For example, chlorine disinfecting wipes are not meant to be used on food contact surfaces and the label clearly states this. The label also advises rinsing with potable (drinkable) water if these are used on a food contact surface. Many different types of chemical agents can be used for sanitizing and disinfecting.Is it safe to clean inside of microwave with Clorox wipes? ›
Using Clorox wipes to clean a microwave may seem like a good idea, but it's not recommended. These wipes contain chemicals designed to kill germs on surfaces such as countertops and sinks, but they can leave behind harmful residue and potentially damage the interior of the microwave.Why you should stop using Clorox wipes immediately? ›
Though they will disinfect your plates, Arthur Andrew Medical says the chemicals left behind by the Clorox wipes can be harmful to consume. According to the Missouri Poison Center, bleach can aggravate your skin, mucus membranes, and your gastrointestinal tract.Do you need to rinse after using Clorox wipes? ›
After that, you can go ahead and use your Clorox Expert Disinfecting Wipes. Once you have finished using disinfecting wipes on a food preparation or eating surface, make sure you rinse the surface with potable water and then dry off with a towel.What happens if I spray rubbing alcohol on my bed? ›
Isopropyl alcohol is extremely flammable. Though it dries quickly, spraying it on upholstered furniture, carpets, fabrics, clothing, and mattresses creates a fire hazard. Vapors that linger in the air are also highly flammable.
Mix 2 parts rubbing alcohol with 1 part water to create our homemade disinfectant. Then pour the mixture into your spray bottle. Hold the bottle 6 inches away from your furniture and lightly mist your sofas, loveseats, chairs, etc. Allow your furniture to dry before you sit.Should I disinfect groceries? ›
Do I Need to Disinfect My Groceries? While you should absolutely wash or use hand sanitizer the minute you leave the grocery store, it's not necessary to wipe down each and every item.What is the best way to sanitize hand washed dishes? ›
The public health organization Stop Foodborne Illness recommends one of two methods: You can either suspend your dishes in a really hot water bath (at least 170°F, for at least 30 seconds), or soak dishes in a sanitizing solution of bleach and water (one tablespoon of unscented chlorine bleach and one gallon of cool ...Can I use disinfecting wipes in refrigerator? ›
Use Clorox® Disinfecting Wipes daily to clean commonly touched areas like the door handle, as well as to wipe up small spills in the fridge.
Can you use disinfecting wipes on phone? ›
If you don't have access to Lysol wipes, a Clorox wipe is okay to use — Apple has updated its advice in the last year to say that Clorox-branded disinfecting wipes and other common disinfectants are safe to use on your phone. Or, you can try a mixture of mild soap and water applied to a microfiber cloth.Can you use Clorox wipes to wipe yourself after pooping? ›
No, Clorox wipes are not intended for human contact. Please consider reading the warning usage label on these product - not following directions could cause you a lot of health problems.