7 Risky Ways You Might Be Using Clorox Wipes

updated Nov 7, 2022
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
A woman in a kitchen pulling a disinfecting wipe out of its container
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

In these germ-ridden months, it’s a great idea to keep a full roster of cleaning agents on hand, including Clorox wipes. The household staple, which disinfects surfaces, is said to kill 99.9% of germs, including viruses that cause cold and flu. But before you go to town wiping down everything in your home, be aware that Clorox wipes are only safe and effective when used as intended—which means there are a few ways you definitely don’t want to use them.

We consulted with Mary Gagliardi, Clorox’s in-house cleaning expert, for tips on how not to use your trusty Clorox wipes. Here’s what she had to say:

Don’t ever use Clorox wipes on skin.

This one may seem obvious, but it’s an important one: Don’t use the wipes as diaper wipes or for personal cleansing or sanitizing. Clorox’s sanitizing claims are based on using the wipes as directed on hard and soft surfaces, not human skin.

Don’t use them on unpainted wood.

Because unpainted wood is porous, it will absorb whatever you apply to it—including Clorox. That could damage the finish, but, more importantly, it means you’re not getting the disinfecting power you’re counting on.

Don’t use them on other absorbent surfaces.

Like most disinfectants, Clorox wipes are approved for disinfecting only non-porous surfaces. It’s best to avoid unfinished, unsealed, unpainted, waxed, oiled, or worn surfaces. Avoid cleaning carpet or fabric with the wipes, too, since it won’t work, and you’ll have to extract the cleaning agent from the fabric.

(Image credit: Mackenzie Schieck)

Don’t forget to rinse toys and food-contact surfaces with water.

After a run-in with the flu, it’s a smart idea to sanitize your kids’ toys. But never forget to rinse them with clean water afterward since little ones tend to put everything in their mouths. The same rule applies to any food-contact surfaces, like flatware, cups, or even counters.

Avoid using them on certain metals.

Since cleaning agents could interact negatively with metals and mask their shine, Gagliardi suggests consumers don’t use Clorox wipes on copper, aluminum, or other polished surfaces.

Don’t forget to follow the instructions.

Did you know that for Clorox wipes to be effective in sanitizing surfaces, you need to use enough wipes to keep the surface visibly wet for four minutes? This crucial piece of information is right in the instructions on the side of the canister! To take full advantage of Clorox’s germicidal claims when you clean your home, don’t forget to follow the instructions step by step.

Don’t go full force without testing the area you want to clean first.

Not sure if you should use a wipe on a certain surface? Just start small. Before going full force and wiping everything down, Gagliardi recommends testing a small area first.