Using Cleaning Chemicals During COVID-19

Safe and Effective Use of Cleaning Chemicals: What to Consider

The proper use of sanitizing and disinfecting chemicals is essential for the foodservice and hospitality sectors, especially now due to COVID-19. However, the same products used to protect us can potentially contain chemicals that may be harmful to the environment and to our health.

In fact, in some cases, using these products could trigger significant health consequences such as skin harm, asthma, as well as many other illnesses to the people who apply them and to those who occupy the spaces where they have been applied. So, while it is essential to ensure the efficacy of these products, it is also important to consider products that have the least detrimental effect on the environment as well as on people’s health. 

For COVID-19 specifically, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has approved disinfectants listed on US EPA N List. All products on this list meet the EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Below are Ecolab disinfectants that are on EPA’s list N that are also safer from the perspective of protecting human health and the environment from toxic risks because they contain only antimicrobial ingredients that are not known to cause occupational asthma or cancer.

These surface disinfectants replace chlorine bleach or quaternary ammonium chloride compounds, which have been linked to these adverse human health effects.


  1. Peroxide Multi-Surface Cleaner and Disinfectant (SKU 6100793)

  2. Virasept (SKU 6002314)

Disinfectants and sanitizers are regulated as pesticides by the EPA. Options exist to choose safer cleaning products by ensuring their ingredients are considered safer. Active ingredients preferred by the US EPA Safer Choice / Design for the Environment program, include — citric acid, hydrogen peroxide, L-lactic acid, ethanol, isopropanol and sodium bisulfate.

If you are looking for additional assurance, you can also select cleaning chemicals that are certified by a third party as safer. Look for multi-purpose, restroom, floor, glass, and other types of cleaners with one of the following multi-attribute third-party certifications such as Green Seal, Safer Choice, UL EcoLogo or Cradle to Cradle (at the Silver or higher level).

Green cleaners certified by Green Seal and ECOLOGO, and disinfectants approved by EPA’s Safer Choice program meet the same performance standards as conventional products. As a result, users can have confidence they are not compromising public health by using products that reduce adverse impacts on human health or the environment.

Other general recommendations to consider:

Don’t revert to the use of old-fashion and more hazardous alternatives due to the fear of the coronavirus

Do train cleaning personnel — users must use label directions including directions for use, contact time, appropriate personal protective equipment, first aid and ventilation and proper application, especially if using electrostatic and other sprayers.

Do follow the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance on proper methods of cleaning and disinfecting, which calls for surfaces (particularly those that can meet with hands) to be cleaned and then disinfected with a product on the US EPA’s List N.

Do ventilate the space with outside air by opening doors and windows or by bringing in outside air with your air handling system during use of chemicals.

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