Pediatric Environmental Health Center | Cleaning & Disinfecting

COVID-19 information

For information specific to coronavirus and COVID-19, visit our coronavirus resource page.

Below are some tips on cleaning and killing germs in your home safely. These cleaning and disinfecting tips are not intended for COVID-19 or the coronavirus.

Routine cleaning

Routine cleaning can reduce dust, allergens, and chemicals in your home. Cleaners do not kill germs. See the disinfectant section below for ways to disinfect your home.

  • When cleaning, use safer products, which are better for your health and the environment.
  • Choose safer cleaning products with the Safer Choice or Green Seal logos.
  • Make your own cleaners with household ingredients such as vinegar and baking soda (see recipes below).
  • While cleaning, open windows and turn on a fan to increase airflow. Consider wearing gloves to protect your skin.
  • Keep all cleaning products away from children and pets.
  • Do not use chemical air fresheners. Instead, keep your home well-ventilated (open windows). Use a box of baking soda to absorb odors.

Here are recipes for home cleaning solutions:

All-purpose household cleaner
Sink, tub, and tile cleanser

Disinfecting (killing germs)

Disinfectants are used to kills germs that can cause illness, but they must be used safely to avoid harming health and making asthma worse.

If you need to kill germs on household surfaces, use a disinfectant such as hydrogen peroxide (3%) or diluted household bleach.

Disinfecting with hydrogen peroxide
Disinfecting with bleach

Notes on bleach safety

In case of accidental ingestion or other bleach-related injury, contact the Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222.

  • Keep out of reach of children: Store in a closed bottle in a locked cabinet away from children.
  • NEVER drink bleach or anything containing bleach. In case of accidental drinking of bleach, call Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222 immediately.
  • Do NOT use industrial-strength bleach.
  • NEVER mix bleach and ammonia or any other cleanser — this can create TOXIC fumes, which are dangerous and harmful to your health.
  • BE SAFE: Open windows for fresh air. Wear gloves. Keep children out of the area. Using too much bleach can be harmful, especially for people with asthma.
  • Dilute the bleach carefully: Use a funnel to carefully dilute the bleach with cool water. Make a fresh batch daily as it can lose strength over time.

References and additional resources