Disinfecting and sanitizing
Practice everyday preventive actions to help reduce your risk of getting sick and remind everyone in your home to do the same. These actions are especially important for older adults and people who have severe chronic medical conditions.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick, except to get medical care.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and throw the tissue in the trash.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects (e.g., tables, countertops, light switches, doorknobs, and cabinet handles).
- Launder items, including washable plush toys, as appropriate and in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely. Dirty laundry from an ill person can be washed with other people’s items.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks. If surfaces are dirty, clean them using detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection. To disinfect, most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work. See CDC’s recommendations for household cleaning and disinfection.
Routine cleaning is the everyday cleaning practices that businesses and communities normally use to maintain a healthy environment. Surfaces frequently touched by multiple people, such as door handles, bathroom surfaces, and handrails, should be cleaned with soap and water or another detergent at least daily when facilities are in use. More frequent cleaning and disinfection may be required based on level of use. For example, certain surfaces and objects in public spaces, such as shopping carts and point of sale keypads, should be cleaned and disinfected before each use. Cleaning removes dirt and impurities, including germs, from surfaces. Cleaning alone does not kill germs, but it reduces the number of germs on a surface.
Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Cleaning with soap and water or a detergent removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. It lowers the risk of spreading infection. Disinfecting with a household disinfectant on List N: Disinfectants for use against SARs-CoV-2 kills germs on the surface. By disinfecting or killing germs on a surface after cleaning the surface, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection. For more information review cleaning and disinfection recommendations for facilities and homes.
The efficacy of these disinfection methods against the virus that causes COVID-19 is not known. EPA only recommends use of the surface disinfectants identified on List N against the virus that causes COVID-19. EPA does not routinely review the safety or efficacy of pesticidal devices, such as UV lights, LED lights, or ultrasonic devices. Therefore, EPA cannot confirm whether, or under what circumstances, such products might be effective against the spread of COVID-19.
No. Always follow the instructions on household cleaners. Do not use disinfect sprays or wipes on your skin because it may cause skin and eye irritation. Disinfectant sprays or wipes are not intended for use on humans or animals. Disinfectant sprays or wipes are intended for use on hard, non-porous surfaces.
View the current list of products that meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the cause of COVID-19.
It may be possible that people can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this isn’t thought to be the main way the virus spreads. CDC recommends cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces and frequent handwashing or the use of hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol as best practice measures for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses.
Some cleaning and disinfection products are not recommended for use on car seats and booster seats. Owners should follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions for their car seats and booster seats. Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death for children in the United States. Always buckle children in age- and size-appropriate car seats, booster seats, and seat belts when riding in a vehicle.
CDC recommends handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or, using alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are not available. These actions are part of everyday preventive actions individuals can take to slow the spread of respiratory diseases like COVID-19.
- When washing hands, you can use plain soap or antibacterial soap. Plain soap is as effective as antibacterial soap at removing germs.
- If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an FDA-approved alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. You can tell if the sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol by looking at the product label.
CDC does not encourage the production and use of homemade hand sanitizer products because of concerns over the correct use of the ingredients (PDF) and the need to work under sterile conditions to make the product. Local industries that are looking into producing hand sanitizer to fill in for commercial shortages can refer to the World Health Organization guidance (PDF). Organizations should revert to the use of commercially produced, FDA-approved product once such supplies again become available.
- To be effective against killing some types of germs, hand sanitizers need to have a strength of at least 60% alcohol and be used when hands are not visibly dirty or greasy.
- Do not rely on “Do It Yourself” or “DIY” recipes based solely on essential oils or formulated without correct compounding practices.
- Do not use hand sanitizer to disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects. See CDC’s information for cleaning and sanitizing your home.
Call your doctor if you experience a serious reaction to hand sanitizer. FDA encourages consumers and health care professionals to report adverse events experienced with the use of hand sanitizers to the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program:
- Complete and submit the report online; or
- Download and complete the form, then submit it via fax at 1-800-FDA-0178.
- Include as much information as you can about the product that caused the reaction, including the product name, the manufacturer, and the lot number (if available).
See Safely Using Hand Sanitizer for more information.
If you suspect you have been exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol, seek immediate medical treatment.
Methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death. Although people using these products on their hands are at risk for methanol poisoning, young children who accidentally swallow these products and adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute are most at risk. Swallowing or drinking a hand sanitizer with 1-propanol can result in decreased breathing and heart rate, among other serious symptoms, and can lead to death.
Hand sanitizer with 1-propanol contamination can irritate your skin (or eyes, if exposed). Although it is rare, some people have reported allergic skin reactions.
Learn more about methanol and 1-propanol toxicities. People who have been exposed to contaminated hand sanitizer and are experiencing symptoms should seek immediate medical treatment for potential reversal of toxic effects.
FDA encourages health care professionals, consumers and patients to report adverse events or quality problems experienced with the use of hand sanitizers to FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program (please provide the agency with as much information as possible to identify the product): Complete and submit the report online; or Download and complete the form (PDF), then submit it via fax at 1-800-FDA-0178.
- Hydrogen peroxide-based systems for cleaning, disinfecting, and storing contact lenses should be effective against the virus that causes COVID-19.
- For other disinfection methods, such as multipurpose solution and ultrasonic cleaners, there is currently not enough scientific evidence to determine efficacy against the virus.
- Always use solution to disinfect your contact lenses and case to kill germs that may be present.
- Handle your lenses over a surface that has been cleaned and disinfected. Find more information about how coronavirus spreads and how to protect yourself.
Visit CDC’s contact lens website for more information on healthy contact lens wear and care.