Proper cleaning, disinfecting, and handwashing are important to prevent the spread of infections. However, chemicals in some products can be harmful to your health. Protect your family from chemical exposures by choosing safer products and practices.
Chemicals in common disinfectants, cleaners, and soaps can harm your health
Chemicals in cleaners and soaps enter the body through breathing (inhalation), ingestion, and through the skin. Children are especially at risk from harmful effects of cleaning products.
Health effects may include:
Chemicals in cleaners and disinfectants pollute indoor air and can cause or worsen asthma and respiratory problems.
Cleaning products and soaps contain chemicals like fragrance and triclosan which interfere with hormones that control many important body functions.
Antibacterial chemicals added to soaps and cleaners are not effective against COVID-19 or other viruses. Overuse of these chemicals contributes to the creation of germs that aren’t killed by drugs.
Skin and eye irritation
Skin and eyes can itch and burn when exposed to cleaning chemicals.
Some disinfectants are shown to impair reproduction in animal studies.
Clean and disinfect safely
- Open windows when using cleaners and disinfectants.
- Spray disinfectant on a cloth or use wipes. Dispose of them in a lidded trash can to reduce the risk of breathing in chemicals.
- Never mix cleaning chemicals.
- Avoid use of cleaning chemicals around children.
- Always read label information and follow manufacturer’s instructions.
- Do not use cleaning products on or around food.
- Keep cleaning products labeled and out of reach of children.
Choose safer products
Cleaners and Disinfectants
|Antimicrobial products registered by EPA against common pathogens|
Green Seal Certified, Ecologo, or EPA Safer Choice products
|Bleach (Sodium hypochlorite) Quaternary Ammoniums (benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride, ammonium chlorides)|
Mixing cleaners or chemicals
Foggers and aerosol sprays that increase risk of inhalational exposures
Hand soaps and sanitizers
|Plain soap and water|
Alcohol-based sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol (ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol)
Wash hands according to guidelines
|Added antibacterials such as triclosan, triclocarban, and quaternary ammoniums (benzalkonium chloride, benzethonium chloride, ammonium chlorides). These are no more effective than plain soap and water.|