These days, pretty much everybody is using disinfecting wipes. In the age of COVID, many of us are using them dozens of times a day to clean frequently-used surfaces. But even before the global pandemic, millions of people were already using disinfecting wipes.
In 2008, the Soap and Detergent Association conducted a nationwide survey to study how Americans cleaned their homes. Amongst other findings, they discovered that a whopping 71 percent of American households used some kind of disinfecting wipe. Moreover, out of that 71 percent, 77 percent kept at least two containers of wipes. A full 25 percent of people used one or more wipe a day.
As you can see, the use of disinfecting wipes is hardly a new thing. But with the variety of options on the market, it can get confusing.
Today, we’re going to tackle the issue of scented wipes. What makes them different from other types of wipes? And can they still sanitize just as well? Let’s take a closer look!
What’s the advantage of scented wipes?
In short, scented wipes smell good. When people clean their homes, they like their homes to smell clean, as well. In other words, scented wipes are good because they make people happy, and can often mask the smell of the ingredients that actually do the cleaning.
They’re also good for manufacturers. By 2014, Clorox controlled 50 percent of the cleaning wipe market. In a 2017 analyst event, a company spokesman credited the company’s success to maximizing the “scent experience” of its products. According to Chief Innovation Officer Denise Garner, “It’s a little indulgence in what otherwise might be the chore of cleaning.”
Thanks to partnerships with leading perfumers, the Scentiva line of wipes had set an all-time record for disinfecting wipe sales. Again, this was all before the pandemic.
But scented wipes can also have a downside. Depending on the ingredients used, they can cause irritation on skin, and can be toxic if they’re ingested. This doesn’t mean that scented wipes are bad. It just means you should be careful about which ones you’re using.
Regardless, scented wipes can be either sanitizing wipes or simple cleaning wipes. The only difference is whether or not a fragrance has been added.
What’s the difference between cleaning and sanitizing?
A more important decision when you’re choosing your wipes is whether they’re cleaning wipes or sanitizing wipes. Contrary to popular perception, sanitizing wipes aren’t always needed for routine cleaning. For instance, if you’re wiping road salt off your shoes, there’s no need for a sanitizer.
Cleaning wipes will remove a lot of germs on their own. They won’t necessarily kill the germs, but the majority of germs will end up in your trash. That said, there’s certainly a time and a place for using a sanitizing wipe.
For instance, it’s a good idea to clean cooking surfaces with a sanitizing surface wipe, particularly if you’re cleaning up after handling raw meat. Sanitizing wipes are also helpful for cleaning up after someone in the home who’s ill.
Sadly, many sanitizing wipes contain toxic chemicals. These chemicals can irritate your skin, or even make you sick. For some people, they can also trigger allergies.
Thankfully, there are also plenty of sanitizing wipes that are safe for people and the environment.
Dr. Brite has made it our mission to create safe, all-natural cleaning products, including our Citrus Scented Hand and Surface Wipes, which are cruelty-free, vegan, with no toxic chemicals, and can sanitize instantly for clean, safe hands and surfaces!
In fact, all of our cleaning essentials are formulated with effective but non-toxic natural ingredients, from our multi-purpose castile soap to our hand sanitizer. Everything we make is vegan, all-natural, and safe for pets and children.
How long should I wipe for?
When you read hand wipe instructions, you often see instructions to clean for a certain amount of time. But what exactly do these instructions mean? If a wipe says that it needs four minutes to work, does this really mean you have to stand there wiping your counter for four minutes?
According to microbiologist and Purdue University professor of food science Dr. Haley Oliver, the instructions refer to total wiping and drying time. She and some fellow scientists performed a series of experiments with Staphylococcus bacteria on a small tile. They tested six different brands by wiping the tile four times and leaving it to dry.
Then, they literally watched the residue dry. Hey, nobody said science was always exciting! But Dr. Oliver and her colleagues did learn something useful. Out of the six products they tested, five stayed wet longer than the label’s recommended drying time. The one product that did dry too quickly only dried 15 seconds too early, and it was still effective at killing germs.
Ultimately, Dr. Oliver says that the most important thing is for the wipe to actually get the surface wet. She says: “I think being conscious of contact time is important. If this is my house and I’m on a wipe campaign, I want to see that the wipe deposited liquid on that surface.”
What about COVID?
If you’re like many people, you’re probably concerned about COVID. Unfortunately, because the virus is so new, there hasn’t been a lot of testing with ordinary cleaning products. If you want to be 100% certain that you’re killing the Coronavirus, the EPA has published a list of disinfectants that have been tested and proven to work.
With that being said, early research indicates that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is actually more fragile than many other common microbes. In other words, most wipes may actually have an easier time killing COVID than they do killing other, more familiar-to-us microbes. In fact, Dr. Daniel R. Kuritzkes, a leading researcher, stressed that it’s still important to take precautions against everyday diseases.
Kuritzkes says: “It’s important to note that [the study’s] recommendations are generic and typically based on how long it takes to kill bacteria – for example, Staph and Strep, which are much harder to kill than a virus like SARS-CoV-2. Shorter times of exposure are most likely still quite effective to prevent Covid-19.”
Do I still need to use soap and water?
With all of this talk about wipes – scented or otherwise – it’s easy to forget about the larger part of the cleaning process. In fact, using soap and water can be just as important as using a wipe.
Think about it. Imagine there’s a bunch of raw chicken fat and grease all over your counter. Are you going to just use a little wipe? No. You’re going to wipe up the bulk of it with a rag or paper towel, using soap to break up the grease. The wipe is for using afterwards, to remove any remaining residue and kill any remaining germs.
This isn’t just common sense. It’s common knowledge in the medical field.
According to emergency room doctor Sampson Davis, “We find that soap and water – good ol’ soap and water – never fails us. Even with so many powerful disinfectants out there, the first line of defense against germs is always going to be soap and water. This is true even of contaminated surfaces that should be disinfected. You should first go in with – you guessed it – soap and water.”
So, that being said, never forget the power of soap and water, and make sure you wash your hands!
As you can see, cleaning wipes and disinfecting wipes are both important parts of cleaning your home. Whether they’re scented or not is purely a matter of personal preference.
That said, some wipes are better and safer than others. For instance, your sanitizing agent should be safe for children and pets. Similarly, if you prefer a scented wipe, the fragrance should be all-natural and hypoallergenic.