Cleaning products

MISSOULA - While some are scrambling to buy up commercial cleaning products, there are some products that can effectively disinfect your house that you may already have.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says products with EPA-approved viral pathogens claims are expected to be effective against COVID-19 based on data for harder to kill viruses.

The CDC recommends cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces on a daily basis. High-touch surfaces include door knobs, light switches, tables, hard-backed chairs, remotes, handles, desks, toilets, and sinks.

The CDC recommends cleaning the surface first with soap and water and then thoroughly disinfecting the area as well. Common house hold items like diluted bleach, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar, and rubbing alcohol can disinfect efficiently, however, they can be dangerous if used improperly.

First, the CDC's recommendation for diluted bleach is 1/3 cup of bleach to each gallon of water. Bleach can be a a harsh cleaner so make sure you test a small area of what you plan to clean first before proceeding to clean the whole thing. Hydrogen peroxide is less harsh than bleach and can be used alone to disinfect surfaces.

Remember to use gloves while disinfecting and to open a window for proper ventilation while disinfecting with chemicals.

Make sure to never mix chemicals like diluted bleach, hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, ammonia, or vinegar. The combination of these chemicals can be hazardous. For example, the mix of bleach and vinegar creates a chlorine gas which can cause coughing, breathing problems, burning and watery eyes. The combination of bleach and rubbing alcohol makes chloroform which is highly toxic and mixing bleach and ammonia produces a toxic gas called chloramine.

"The best advice is do not mix any of these chemicals together. You just want to use them separately and then follow the directions on the container," said Chuck Emnett, associate safety and emergency manager at the University of Montana.

This goes for the cloth or sponge you decide to use to the clean the surface as well. Either use a separate rag for each kind of disinfectant you use or thoroughly rinse your sponge because the using the same cloth with different chemicals could create the same toxic reactions.

Each product requires a different amount of time it is in contact with the surface to successfully disinfect. These times vary according to disinfect. A full list of EPA approved disinfectants with their contact times can be found here.

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