The Right Way to Use Lysol Wipes

woman wiping off a doorknob with disinfectant wipes

The Spruce / Candace Madonna

Disinfecting wipes like those from Lysol, Clorox, and generic brands are convenient, easy to use, and can be an effective way to disinfect hard surfaces in your home if you are using them the right way.

Are you guilty of any of these habits?

  • Believing that all wipes are created equal
  • Not reading the directions on the product label
  • Using one wipe to clean every kitchen counter
  • Wiping down a surface and then using it immediately
  • Using a paper towel to dry the freshly-cleaned surface
  • Using one wipe to clean an entire bathroom

If so, you probably have a false sense of security and aren't completely disinfecting the surfaces. By not checking that the wipes are a disinfecting wipe and not just an all-purpose cleaning wipe, and by using the wipes improperly, you've just wasted time and money and still left surfaces un-disinfected.

How to Use Disinfecting Wipes

Take a minute to read the label on the disinfecting wipes and follow the recommendations on the product label. The amount of time necessary for the disinfectant to kill viruses, bacteria, and fungi is dependent upon the type of disinfectant used during the manufacturing of the product.

  1. Remove Heavy Soil and Grease From Surfaces

    If the kitchen counter is covered with spilled food or a coating of grease splatters or the bathroom counter has globs of toothpaste, it should be cleaned first using an all-purpose cleaner, warm water, and a microfiber cloth. The gentle abrasion of the microfiber will help lift away any dried-on particles. The disinfectant on the wipes will not penetrate through or remove solid matter on the counters.

    wiping down a surface with a Lysol wipe

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  2. Check the Wipe for Compatibility With the Type of Surface

    Once again, read the label. While most wipes are safe to use on hard, non-porous surfaces like laminate, sealed granite, vinyl, and fiberglass, they are not safe to use on unfinished wood or extremely worn surfaces. Always test in a small area to make sure there is no etching or discoloration.

    making sure lysol wipes can be used on different surfaces

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  3. Check the Moisture Level of the Wipe

    To be effective, the wipe must contain disinfectant. If the container has been left open and the wipes are dry to the touch, they will not offer the disinfecting level promised.

    Tip

    If disinfecting wipes have dried out, they can be revived by adding 70 percent isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol to the canister or package. Pour in the alcohol and close the container tightly. Allow the wipes to absorb the alcohol completely before using.

    checking that Lysol wipes haven't dried out

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  4. Wipe Down Surfaces

    Using one wipe at a time, start at the top of a vertical surface and wipe down. Start at one end of a horizontal surface and move slowly to the opposite end. The hard surface should be visibly wet and shiny.

    Use multiple wipes to cover large areas. One wipe can only provide adequate disinfection to an area of around three-square-feet or less.

    wiping down a cabinet handle

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  5. Let the Disinfectant Work

    For both Lysol and Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, the hard surface must remain wet for at least four minutes—10 minutes is best—for all microbes to be killed.

    allowing the lysol wipe to work

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  6. Allow the Surface to Air-Dry

    Drying times are affected by room temperature and humidity. Allow the surface to air-dry. Do not wipe away the disinfectant.

  7. Rinse Food Preparation and Eating Surfaces

    Once the disinfectant is dry, if the area is to be used for food preparation or eating, the surface should be rinsed with fresh water and dried with a clean towel.

    The same steps should be followed if the disinfected item is a toy or surface that might end up in a child's mouth.

    sanitizing a food prep surface

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  8. Dispose of the Wipe Properly

    While Clorox has just announced a wipe that can be composted, most wipes have a non-woven substrate that must be disposed of in a trash can. Disinfecting wipes should not be flushed down a toilet because they can cause clogs in pipes and septic systems.

    disposing of lysol wipes

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  9. Wash Your Hands

    Always wash your hands with soap and warm water after using any cleaning product.

    person washing their hands

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

Do You Really Need a Disinfecting Wipe?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cleaning and disinfecting surfaces regularly is essential to prevent the spread of illness. While a disinfecting wipe is convenient, it may not be the best or most economical choice for every area of the home.

Disinfecting wipes are a perfect go-to for disinfecting small areas like doorknobs, cabinet pulls, appliance handles, and touchpads. Check the manufacturer's guidelines but most keyboards, remotes, game controllers, and phone cases can be safely disinfected with a wipe. Some cell phones have a protective coating on the screen that can be harmed by certain chemicals, so check before you clean.

For larger areas in your home, disinfecting can also be done with diluted chlorine bleach solutions, 70 percent alcohol solutions, and other EPA-registered household disinfectants like pine oil and phenolic solutions. Follow product directions carefully and clean surfaces at least twice daily. If someone in your home is ill, surfaces should be cleaned immediately after being touched by the infected person.