The 11 Best Hospital-Grade Cleaning Supplies for Your Home
Hospitals are held to a higher standard when it comes to cleanliness, which is why you need their disinfecting secrets—especially right now.
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The strongest disinfectants you can buy
These days, it's not enough to buy any old cleaning products. You need the right ones to combat coronavirus in addition to all of the other viruses, bacteria, and assorted germs out there—or more specifically, in your home. That's why it's smart to look to items that hospitals use. After all, hospitals are held to a higher standard when it comes to cleanliness and safety, says Bill Klehm, cofounder of HouseCheck and StayHealthy's CovidClean website. "Hospital disinfection products control the spread of bacteria and viruses because they perform as a biocide (germ killer) and a virucide (removes a virus' ability to infect people)," he explains. "These products are EPA-registered, strictly tested, and have published efficacy claims suitable for hospital sanitation."
So, what qualifies as hospital-grade, exactly? "The best disinfectants for viruses are alcohol, bleach, hydrogen peroxide, and quaternary ammonium compounds," says Melissa Homer, Chief Cleaning Officer of MaidPro. "These are active ingredients in the most common products on the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) list of registered disinfectants against coronavirus." Although they can be extremely hard to track down, you can still find some of them online—and you may even already have some of them at home. By the way, these are the things you should be cleaning every day from now on.
Note: Prices listed were accurate as of press time; pricing fluctuations may occur.
A favorite of professional cleaning experts, CaviWipes1 are EPA-approved for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and they're both a biocide and a virucide. Even better? "Because these wipes are made of synthetic fibers, they will not react with the active chemical disinfectant, quaternary ammonium, so the disinfectant will retain 100 percent of its potency," says Klehm.
But, of course, you need to use them correctly in order for them to work correctly. For that to happen, you have to pre-clean surfaces before applying. "It's imperative to remember that the effectiveness of the wipes will also decrease drastically (from 100 percent to as little as 12 percent) if the surface is not cleaned with soap and water first," stresses Klehm. "If used on an unclean surface, the detritus on the surface (aka bioload) will interact with the active chemical and reduce its efficacy." Don't miss these other ways you're using disinfectants wrong.
Generally used as a disinfectant in hair salons to keep tools and equipment germ-free, Barbicide was recently put on the EPA's List N, a compilation of disinfectants that the EPA believes will be effective against coronavirus. While List N products haven't been specifically proven to combat it, they have been proven effective against harder-to-kill viruses and other similar human coronaviruses. Klehm and his company also give Barbicide, along with the other products on List N, the thumbs-up. A word of caution, though: Many online reviewers warn that direct exposure to Barbicide can damage skin, so wear protective clothing when using it. In case you were wondering, this is the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting.
Diversey Crew Non-Acid Disinfectant Cleaner
Designed for everything from hospitals and other health care settings to schools and locker rooms, this disinfectant will certainly do the job on your germy house. Its non-acidic formula is generally used for bathrooms. Not only has it been approved by the EPA for coronavirus, but it's also been proven to kill HIV, staph, salmonella, E. coli, MRSA, and more. Just make sure to leave it on long enough; Klehm says Diversey's dwell time is ten minutes. Plus, he adds, no matter what disinfectant you use, "remember that when you wipe off the disinfectant, you should never rub back and forth in circles. Remove the disinfectant with a microfiber cloth in a single wiping motion like left to right and then left to right." After all, you don't want to reinfect your newly disinfected surface. Just so you know, these are the germiest spots in your bathroom.
The Rag Company All-Purpose Microfiber Cleaning Towels
Nope, this product doesn't have any disinfectant built into it, but it's an essential part of a thorough cleaning process in medical facilities, says Cory Chalmers, CEO of Steri-Clean. These commercial-grade, machine-washable microfiber cloths should be used in conjunction with soap and water or an alcohol- or bleach-based product to pre-clean a surface and remove biofilms before proper disinfecting can happen. Paper towels don't do the job as effectively. "Microfiber cloths do the best job at picking up germs and leave no dust bunnies behind, which could actually hold germs and leave them behind," Chalmers explains. "Plus, they reduce cross-contamination, use less water and chemicals, and are easier and lighter to use, therefore saving both time and money." Here are more things you shouldn't be cleaning with paper towels.
Force of Nature Starter Kit
"Many people don't realize that not all cleaning products are disinfectants, and that's an important distinction: The EPA requires that disinfectants kill 99.9 percent of germs," says Jeanne Breen, MD, a Connecticut-based infectious disease physician and researcher. "Always check the label to make sure it states that the product is an EPA-registered disinfectant." Force of Nature is a relative newcomer that fits the bill and has the added bonus of being non-toxic. "The disinfecting ingredient is hypochlorous acid, an antimicrobial common in wound healing products. It kills germs and is very gentle," says Dr. Breen. "Plus, it's on the EPA's list of disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2. I like that it's so versatile—I can use it in the kitchen, in the bathroom, and on multiple types of surfaces."
Whatever you do, though, don't make these cleaning mistakes that will actually make your home dirtier.
Not only can this ready-to-use disinfectant dispel germs on hard, non-porous surfaces, but it can also be used on most fabrics. "It's on the EPA N-list, and it's effective against a wide variety of pathogens including SARS-CoV-2," says Cody Millsap, vice president of franchise development for Stratus Building Solutions. Used in hospitals, as well as schools and other institutions, it also fights bacteria, fungus, mold, and mildew. One caveat: This particular bottle doesn't come with a spray trigger, but you can buy a chemical-resistant one to start spritzing and make cleaning easier.
Yes, you have to do a little work, but it's really just a little. Straight-up bleach should be diluted with water: 1/3 cup of bleach per gallon of water, to be exact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the EPA. Then, advises Homer, spray it on any pre-cleaned surface, let it sit for ten minutes to fully disinfect for coronavirus, and then let it air-dry. But, she adds, you'll only get "a full germ kill on a surface that has already been cleaned with soap and water first." In case you were wondering, here's exactly why Clorox is so good at killing germs. Whatever you do, though, never mix bleach with ammonia: Combining them creates a toxic gas called chloramine, which can cause coughing, breathing problems, and chest pain.
Odorless and budget-friendly, your basic 70 percent rubbing alcohol does a great job of disinfecting surfaces. And all you have to do is pour it into a spray bottle and spritz it around high-traffic areas in your home. "It has a kill time of two to three minutes, but I like to leave it up to five minutes just to be on the safe side," says Alon Feld, district manager of All Bright Professional Services. Commonly used in health care facilities on surfaces and on small non-critical items, according to the journal Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, it actually works better when there's a lower concentration of alcohol in it (hence, the 70 percent). Why? Because alcohol with higher concentrations evaporates more quickly and therefore doesn't dwell on the surface long enough. Here are another 15 ways to use rubbing alcohol.
If you don't have any rubbing alcohol on hand, 3 percent hydrogen peroxide is a solid backup—and it's super inexpensive. However, Feld notes, it takes longer to work. In fact, while rubbing alcohol can kill coronavirus germs in five minutes or less, you'll need to leave this on for 20 minutes. Yes, it's a long time, but it's good in a pinch when so much is sold out, and it doesn't have a strong odor like bleach does. So, set your alarm and tackle some other cleaning projects while it's working its magic. Plus, Feld adds, "there's no need to [thoroughly] wash it off; a wipe-down is enough."