Study: Cleaning products used daily during COVID-19 may do more harm than good

Posted on May 9, 2023 at 10:05 am ET

(Polina Tankelevich /

Some cleaning products that have become highly used during the COVID-19 pandemic may be doing more harm than good, a new study warns.

Researchers have highlighted that cleaning products that contain something called quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) may be linked to asthma, dermatitis, and infections in humans.

The study, published Monday in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science and Technology, reviewed the scientific literature conducted before and after the pandemic began, finding that use of products containing QACs is on the rise and that proper regulation and research is lacking.

“Disinfecting wipes containing QACs are often used on children’s school desks, hospital exam tables, and in homes where they remain on these surfaces and in the air,” said Courtney Karinian, PhD, a co-author and assistant professor at Michigan State University. press release. “Our review of the science indicates that in many cases disinfection with these chemicals is unhelpful or even harmful. We recommend regular cleaning with soap and water and disinfection only as needed with safer products.”

The study included a list of safer cleaning products that the researchers recommend consumers turn to instead of products containing QACs:

The study’s press release included a list of safer cleaning products evaluated by the Toxic Reduction Institute with the University of Massachusetts Lowell that consumers can turn to instead of products containing QACs:

Safer products

Antibacterial Multipurpose Cleaner – Method Products Inc

Arm and Hammer Basics – CR Brands Inc.

Comet Disinfectant Bathroom Cleaner – Proctor & Gamble

Lysol® Bathroom Cleaner – Reckitt Benckiser LLC

Lysol® Neutra Air® 2 in 1 – Reckitt Benckiser LLC

Purell Professional Surface Disinfectant – GOJO Industries Inc

Kaboom – Church & Dwight Company

Clorox Commercial Solutions® Clorox® Biostain Disinfectant and Odor Eliminator – Clorox Professional Products Company

Lysol All-Purpose Cleaners – Reckitt Benckiser LLC

Clorox Pet Solutions Advanced Disinfectant, Stain & Odor Remover – The Clorox Company

Envirocleanse A – Envirocleanse LLC

Cleansmart – Simple Science Limited

Cleaning Bubbles – SC Johnson & Son Inc

Windex Disinfectant Cleaner – SC Johnson & Son Inc

Natural Strength Activator Capsule – HCl Cleaning Products LLC

The full list, including products for commercial, institutional, and products for industrial use as well as for residential use, can be found here on the TURI website.

TURI notes that products are on the list based on whether their active ingredients are considered safer, and that they do not “endorse any particular products or sellers.”

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