Guidance on How to Use Disinfectants Safely -
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Importance of Disinfectants

Many people are increasing their use of antimicrobial disinfectant products that can help kill the COVID-19 virus on surfaces to help stop the spread of the virus.

Certain disinfectant products can effectively reduce germs in our homes and surroundings that can make us sick. However, it’s important that consumers know how to use these products safely, to prevent accidental poisonings and other serious injuries.

Dangers of Misuse

Recent news articles, and reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have highlighted an increase in accidental poisonings in some areas across the country. In response, the Center for Biocide Chemistries developed a fact sheet that provides guidance on some dos and don’ts for the safe use of disinfectant products.

Tips for Using Disinfectant Products Safely

Before using a disinfectant product read the instructions for guidance on how to use the product correctly. For example, although it can seem logical to assume a product formulated to disinfect surfaces can also be used to wash food, in some cases, doing so can lead to accidental poisoning.

Here are some dos and don’ts to consider when using disinfectant products:

  • Always read and follow the label instructions on all your disinfectant products.
  • Don’t use disinfectant products on or in the human body, pets or food.
  • Do not store disinfectants in areas that are easily accessible by children or pets.
  • Keep products out of a child’s sight and reach, even when using them.
  • Don’t pour disinfectants into other containers with different labels.
  • Don’t combine disinfectants and cleaning products with other products or put them in unlabeled bottles or jugs.
  • Wear protective gear like gloves if recommended on the product label.

EPA Registration

In the United States, surface disinfectants must be registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and EPA dictates what information must be included on EPA-registered product labels. These labels might include the product name, ingredient and ‘Keep out of Reach of Children’ statements, first aid instructions, and directions for use, storage and disposal.  The National Pesticide Information Center, a partnership between the University of Oregon and the EPA, provides more in-depth information about antimicrobial pesticides and product labels.