Why You Should Think Twice The Next Time You Use Disinfectant Wipes

Over the past couple of years, disinfectant wipes have cemented their place as a household staple. The multipurpose cleaners were one of the most purchased items early in the pandemic, according to NPR, and have been a staple since. After all, their convenience is unmatched, especially now that you've probably got a small stash in your cleaning closet. Just grab a wipe and swipe to kill any germs. Plus, they're always soaked in cleaning detergent, so you can usually clean a few surfaces in one go. It seems like a great deal, right? Well, not exactly.

Although we use disinfectant wipes with the intent to clean surfaces, researchers at the Welsh School of Pharmacy found that they may actually be spreading germs around, according to a study by Cardiff University. Now, scientists are calling for cleaning wipes to be used more purposefully to avoid unnecessary germ spread, especially in settings where individuals may be sick or at higher risk (via ABC).

What's the catch with disinfectant wipes?

It turns out that disinfectant wipes aren't working the way you'd expect. While you might assume that they disperse a liquid that kills all germs (or 99.9% of them), it turns out that some germs actually stick to the wipe, according to the Cardiff University study. When you go to clean the next surface, you aren't just applying any excess cleaning detergent — you're also giving the germs (many of which are still alive) a ride around your home.

To minimize the spread of germs, several scientists told ABC that they'd recommend only using one disinfectant wipe per surface. This principle is especially applicable when cleaning areas like the bathroom or mudroom (which are extremely dirty) and the kitchen (which can be dangerous if dirty). In all fairness, though, they also mentioned that the study is mostly geared towards hospitals and other spaces where cleanliness is of the utmost importance. Your house will always have some germs, but that's okay — it doesn't need to be sterile enough for surgery. Just be mindful not to reuse wipes in certain areas.