Safer disinfectants for COVID-19

April 12, 2021

Quick links:

Disinfectants and COVID-19

What do we mean by "safer?"

Products for consumers and small businesses

Products for custodians and large institutions


 

Disinfectants and COVID-19

The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has now determined that the risk of contracting COVID-19 from touching surfaces is low.   A recent CDC science brief states: "In most situations, cleaning surfaces using soap or detergent, and not disinfecting, is enough to reduce risk. Disinfection is recommended in indoor community settings where there has been a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last 24 hours. " 

What do we mean by "safer" disinfectants?

It is important not to overuse disinfectants. A good cleaning with soaps or detergents is often enough.

Most disinfectants contain hazardous chemicals, particularly chemicals that cause asthma. The San Francisco Department of the Environment considers the following active ingredients as safer:

  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Lactic acid
  • Citric acid
  • Octanoic (caprylic) acid
  • Alcohol (ethanol, isopropanol) - for spot cleaning only (example computer keyboards); do not use for applications that require more than one wipe, or cleaning of surfaces larger than 1 square foot. 
  • Thymol - use when other products are not available

The lists below show only California-registered disinfectants that contain safer active ingredients and are approved by US EPA for COVID-19.  A few products have also been listed by the US EPA's Design for the Environment (DfE) program. For DfE products, all ingredients (not just "active" ingredients) are considered least hazardous.


 

Products for consumers and small businesses

We have created a factsheet [English] [Chinese] [Spanish] specifically aimed at small businesses seeking to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic. More general information on safer disinfectants can  be found on our SFApproved disinfectants page.  Also make sure you follow the latest San Francisco Department of Public Health Directives.

 

Here are some commonly found safer disinfectant products.  Scroll down for the complete list.

Lysol Multi-Purpose Cleaner With Hydrogen Peroxide

SC Johnson Windex Disinfectant Cleaner

Method Antibac All-Purpose Cleaner

Seventh Generation Disinfecting Multi-Surface Cleaner

How to use the tool below:

  • Look for the checkmarks to find the safest products. US EPA Design for the Environment (DfE) products provide the highest standard , followed by SFE-screened products. (Learn more about SFE's screening approach.)
  • Click in the lower right corner to expand the table for easier viewing.
  • "Time to leave product on surface:"  Disinfectants require time to work, and these times vary between products and organisms.

 Updated 3/12/2021  

 

 

 

 

 


Products for custodians and large institutions

How to use the tool below:

  • Look for the checkmarks to find the safest products. US EPA Design for the Environment (DfE) products provide the highest standard, followed by SFE-screened products.  (Learn more about SFE's screening approach.)
  • Click in the lower right corner to expand the table for easier viewing.
  • For large organizations, concentrated ("dilutable") products are cheaper and more environmentally friendly.  Always use concentrates with an automatic dilution system.
  • "Time to leave product on surface:"  Disinfectants require time to work, and these times vary between products and organisms.

 Updated 3/12/2021.