If all the talk of a “twindemic”—the overlap between COVID-19 and flu season—has sent you into a cleaning frenzy, you’re not alone. But it takes more than a simple paper-towel swipe of the counters and doorknobs to clean and truly disinfect.
First things first: You need a quality product — ideally one that’s overtly labeled as a disinfectant, like 3M TB Quat Disinfectant Ready-to-Use Cleaner. If you’re not sure, check the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration number on the label, says Carolyn Forte, Cleaning Lab Director at the Good Housekeeping Institute. Then, type that number into the agency’s database for specifics on what type of bacteria and viruses against which it’s effective.
Proper usage is also extremely important. It’s a common misconception that you can simply spritz and wipe. The truth: Proper disinfecting takes time. Check the product directions for how long hard, non-porous surfaces must stay wet for the most effective germ killing, says Forte. When cleaning a surface with 3M TB Quat Disinfectant Ready-to-Use Cleaner, for example, a hard non-porous surface needs to remain wet with the cleaning solution and untouched for one minute in order to kill the virus that causes