Stop wasting your time and start making your home safer.

In early March, spray disinfectant, multipurpose cleaners, hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol sales all jumped more than 200 percent in year-over-year sales as Americans stocked up to stay home and attempt to stop the spread of the coronavirus, according to Nielsen data. One look around supermarket shelves and it's clear we're showing no signs of stopping our Mr. Clean mission at home—just like toilet paper, disinfectant wipes and cleaners have practically become a hotter commodity than the latest iPhone.

Woman washing a kitchen counter
Credit: Getty/ Agnieszka Marcinska/ EyeEm

But are all those products you're wiping and spraying with actually doing their job? And are they safe? Here, three of the most common mistakes Americans make when disinfecting their kitchens, plus what to do instead.

Kitchen Disinfecting Mistake #1: You're Not Using the Right Products

There's a big difference between cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting. Cleaning means the surface looks clean, sanitizing is a quick fix to reduce germs, while disinfecting involves actually killing the germs. You need the right product to do the dirty job of disinfecting.

Be sure to use an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved to actually disinfect your home. The organization has pinpointed several brands that are proven to be most effective at combating the coronavirus, including select Lysol, Clorox and Sani-Cloth sprays and wipes. If you can't find any online or at your local stores, here's a U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)-recommended DIY disinfectant solution.

Kitchen Disinfecting Mistake #2: You're Wiping Off Disinfectants Too Quickly

For most disinfectants to kill germs, they must stay on surfaces for 10 minutes before being wiped off. But 26 percent of people polled by the American Cleaning Institute admit to spraying and wiping dry immediately, and another 16 percent just make a quick swipe with a disinfectant wipe.

Pre-clean all surfaces before disinfecting, if any griminess is apparent. Then check the label (ahem, on your EPA-approved disinfectant) and use as directed—most often, this involves allowing the spray or wipe to air dry for at least 10 minutes before wiping down with a clean paper towel or microfiber cloth.

Kitchen Disinfecting Mistake #3: You're Not Doing it Frequently Enough

Under normal conditions, you probably don't need to be quite as diligent, but if you're not disinfecting daily during the pandemic, you likely should be. The CDC particularly points to these high-touch areas as worthy of daily disinfecting:

  • Phones, tablets, touch screens and keyboards
  • Tables, chairs and desks
  • Remote controls
  • Handles (including on doors, refrigerators, microwaves, etc.)
  • Toilets and sinks (don't forget the handles!)

Perhaps the most important step of all is the final step, and a refrain you've heard countless times during the coronavirus pandemic: Once you're all done with disinfecting duty, wash your hands.