San Francisco Department of the Environment

How can I clean my home without using toxic products?

 

COVID-19 – Important Message on Cleaning and Disinfecting

With COVID-19 on all our minds, most of us are concerned about eliminating germs in our homes. Cleaning with plain soap and water or a non-toxic and environmentally friendly cleaner is effective at removing germs. Regarding disinfection, according to CDC guidance, hard (non-porous) surfaces should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to using a disinfectant.That’s because germs, including the COVID-19 virus, stick to dirt particles – you have to remove those for a disinfectant to work properly! After cleaning, if you are looking to disinfect, use EPA-approved disinfectants to eliminate COVID-19. Click here for safer disinfectants that do the job.


Look for third-party certified products. 

Some third-party certifications include US Environmental Protection Agency's Safer ChoiceGreen Seal, and UL/EcoLogo. The Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning also lists safer and more environmentally friendly products.

Use homemade cleaners.

Choose less toxic products to avoid exposure to chemicals linked to asthma, cancer, reproductive harm and liver, kidney, and nervous system damage. Try these easy and safe cleaning products for the home (also available in SpanishChinese, and Russian). 

Choose mist spray bottles over aerosol spray cans.

Mist sprays help to keep you from inhaling cleaning products. Spray the product on a cloth first, not on the surface or into the air.

What about disinfection?

General cleaning products remove dirt, organic matter, and germs from a surface. Germs including the COVID-19 virus, stick to dirt particles, so be sure to clean hard surfaces first with plain soap and water or a general-purpose cleaner. Cleaning solutions remove the majority of germs on a surface, often making disinfection unnecessary. If you use disinfectant, don’t just spray and wipe! Apply disinfectant and let sit for at least 10 minutes.

Safer disinfectants (like products that contain hydrogen peroxide) are just as effective as harmful disinfectants, like bleach which can trigger asthma. Make sure there is an “EPA Registration Number” on the product label.


Additional Resources for Disinfection:

GreenSeal Blog on How to Safely Disinfect
CDC Prevent Getting Sick: Disinfect Your Home


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