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. Remember that regular cleaning with plain soap and water or an environmentally-friendly cleaner is very effective. In fact, according to CDC guidance, hard (non-porous) surfaces should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.That’s because germs, including the COVID-19 virus, stick to dirt particles – you have to remove those before you disinfect! 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 many 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 ingesting cleaning products. Spray on the cloth first, not on the surface.

What about disinfection?

Regular cleaning kills most germs. 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. If you use disinfectant, don’t just spray and wipe! Apply disinfectant and let dry for at least 10 minutes.

Safer disinfectants (like products that contain hydrogen peroxide) are just as effective as bleach and don’t cause asthma. Make sure there is an “EPA Registration Number” on the label.

Additional Resources for Disinfection:

GreenSeal Blog on How to Safely Disinfect

CDC Prevent Getting Sick: Disinfect Your Home


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