Which disinfectants really are useful against coronavirus?

Which disinfectants really are useful against coronavirus?
Posted at 4:48 PM, Jul 02, 2020

New spikes in COVID-19 cases have reinforced the importance of basic disinfecting and cleaning our homes to stop the novel coronavirus spread.

But how do we know that the cleaners we have are effective in killing COVID-19 and other viruses?

"One of the things that's important to know: Is there is a lot of good evidence that the coronavirus is one of the easiest types to kill?" said Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi Associate Professor of Chemistry Dr. Patrick Larkin.

Yes, he said. He believes most household cleaners will destroy the virus.

He said the best chemicals to use for disinfecting are, bleach, ammonia, and alcohol. However, he does warn that precautions be taken with alcohol concentrations.

"For example with isopropyl alcohol, you need at least a 50 percent solution; and ethanol [or ethyl] alcohol, you want at least 60 percent," he said.

But, take note -- there also are guidelines for how you should clean, so it can be the most effective.

"CDC guidelines say you should clean the surface with soap and water first, and then apply your sanitizing or disinfectant solution," said retired Certified Industrial Hygienist Tom Samson. "Leave it on for at least one minute, and then you can rinse it off."

Samson said not all household cleaners are the same, and do not have the same contact-surface time that is required. He recommends reading the labels of the cleaner you intend to use.

Larkin and Samson said it is easy to make your own cleaners at home. However, be cautious about mixing chemicals, and be aware what you are cleaning with.

"The chemistry of mixing a chlorine-based cleaner with an ammonia-based cleaner can be deadly to those in the immediate area," said Samson. "The reaction of these two cleaners is to release chlorine products into the surrounding environment, in some cases, enough to cause severe injury or death. People need to know to get out of the area if this reaction happens and take their kids and pets with them!"

Samson notes the Environmental Protection Agency also has a list of cleaners that will kill the novel coronavirus.

This story originally reported by Chelsea Torres on