Finding disinfectants that work

Which disinfectant is right for you?


Marco Verch

Not able to find your usual disinfectant? Try one of these instead.

Leah Scott, Health and Medicine Section Editor

In early 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a list of effective disinfectants to use against COVID-19. Usually, disinfectants are fairly accessible to purchase– however, COVID-19 has caused scarcity among many popular and effective disinfectants.

However, the CDC stated that bleach solutions, hydrogen-peroxide-based cleaners, and quaternary ammonium compounds (quat solutions) are also highly effective disinfectants to use against COVID-19.

Using soap and water is the best way to prevent coming in contact with COVID-19– all other sanitary methods are secondary.


Bleach solutions destroy the protein layer of the virus, rendering it harmless. However, bleach products should only be used if the bleach contains sodium hypochlorite from a range of 5.25 percent to 8.25 percent.

If the percentage of hypochlorite is not within this range or is not specified, the solution could be potentially harmful to humans and should not be used.

The public must also be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions very carefully and to allow the product to be in contact with the surface for at least one minute.

It is vital for the public to remember that household bleach should never be mixed with ammonia or any other cleaner.

The efficiency of bleach products lasts for twenty-four hours, meaning that disinfecting surfaces with bleach products once a day will suffice for creating a deadly environment for the virus


Hydrogen-peroxide based cleaners are also effective disinfectants against COVID-19. Like bleach solutions, they also render the virus harmless by destroying its protein layer.

These solutions are used best on soft surfaces. Hydrogen peroxide solutions should be mixed with water when used as a disinfectant and should be applied for 5-10 minutes.

Quat solutions

Maquat 128-PD (Mason Chemical Company) and quat solutions are disinfectants typically used in the food industry, but can also be used to fight COVID-19.

Using consumer product solutions containing quats is the safest way to disinfect surfaces because these solutions already have the appropriate quat concentration– only properly trained personnel wearing specific protective gear are authorized and trained to dilute quat solutions.

The proper application of quat solutions on surfaces can be found on the label of the product.

Alternatives to your usual cleaner:

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also created a list of the most effective and accessible disinfectants to use against coronavirus. Some of these products may overlap with disinfectants recommended by the CDC. If you are having trouble finding a disinfectant try one of these brands:

  • Honest Company Disinfecting Spray 
  • Seventh Generation Professional Disinfecting Kitchen Cleaner
  • O3 Waterworks Sanitizing Spray System
  • Clorox Pet Solutions Stain and Odor Remover
  • Clorox Disinfecting Bleach.