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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

56 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
3 Experts Interviewed
60 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Best disinfecting bathroom cleaners

In the bathroom, cleaning isn't enough. Besides scouring away dirt and grime, you need to disinfect your surfaces to keep germs at bay. A disinfectant kills a wide range of potentially harmful microorganisms that may be thriving on surfaces such as the sink, toilet, tub, and tiles. Without using a disinfectant, no matter how vigorously you scrub, bacteria will remain.

A good disinfecting bathroom cleaner is often a broad-spectrum disinfectant, something that allows you to kill the widest variety of germs with just one product. The ideal cleaner acts fast and has been certified by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Factors such as dwell time, shelf life, and eco-friendliness also matter to many consumers, and it’s important to understand these terms before choosing a product.

Learn more about the features of a good bathroom disinfectant and how to use it properly.

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Before sanitizing or disinfecting a surface, thoroughly clean the surface first. If a surface has not been cleaned, the disinfectant may not be able to penetrate the grime to do its job.

Key considerations

EPA certification

Disinfectants are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). In order to be certain that a product performs as the label claims, an EPA registration number must appear on the label.

To receive EPA certification, a product undergoes rigorous testing to determine if it can do precisely what the label claims it can do. If it can't, the label must be altered before the product receives certification. For example, in 2011, a company had to remove wording that its hydrogen peroxide product was fungicidal before it could be marketed. The takeaway is, if a disinfectant has an EPA registration number, the claims on the label were tested and found to be true.

Broad-spectrum

Since disinfectants must be tested against specific germs, you could end up purchasing a half dozen different disinfecting bathroom cleaners to use in your bathroom because each would target a specific microorganism. It is much more economical to purchase a broad-spectrum disinfectant, so you only have to buy one product to get the job done.

Dwell time

Disinfectants do not kill germs immediately; it takes time for them to work. The length of time it takes for a disinfectant to do its job is the dwell time. During the dwell time, the disinfectant must remain wet and undisturbed on a surface. There are products that require a full three minutes of dwell time and products that require only one minute of dwell time.

For some people, dwell time could be a major selling point. For others, it might not be a big deal.

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 Did You Know?
A disinfectant must cover the entire surface of any area you want disinfected.
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Features

Eco-friendliness

If you are concerned about the environment (and yourself), it is possible to find disinfectants that are manufactured using safe, non-toxic, or even all-natural products. These disinfectants may cost a bit more, but if being green is important to you, you may find the higher price worth it.

Cleaning and disinfecting

While purchasing a product that cleans and disinfects sounds like a good option, it may be  wise to use a separate product for each step. The reason: disinfection should occur after a surface has been cleaned.

Shelf life

The shelf life of a disinfectant tells you how long the product can sit on a shelf and remain effective. Some disinfectants may have specific storage conditions that must be met to achieve the maximum shelf life. Read the label to discover what these conditions are. In general, a disinfecting bathroom cleaner is only good for about a year, though some brands have a two-year shelf life. Luckily, most products are used frequently enough that they will be long gone before expiring. If you purchase a larger refill container, make sure it doesn't expire before you use up the product.

Size

While you may get more bang for your buck by purchasing in bulk, do not over-purchase. If you buy a larger quantity than you can use in a year, the product may begin to lose effectiveness before it’s used up.

Scented

Disinfecting bathroom cleaners tend to exude an offensive, acrid smell that some find hard to tolerate. If you have a sensitive nose, it may be best to look for a product with a somewhat pleasant fragrance.
 


Just as a cleaning product is not formulated to be a disinfectant, a disinfectant is not typically formulated to clean. While a disinfectant may eliminate certain microorganisms from surfaces, it may also leave dirt behind.

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Accessories

Using disinfectants can be hazardous. You do not want to get any in your eyes or on your skin. For individuals looking for some handy PPE (personal protective equipment), here are three suggestions.

Safety goggles: SuperMore Anti-Fog Safety Goggles with Splash Protection
To protect your eyes from harmful splashes, you'll need to wear safety goggles specifically designed to guard against splashes. SuperMore's safety goggles are anti-fog, impact-resistant models that offer a wide range of vision.

Safety goggles: Christmas By Krebs Reusable Face Shields
If you want to step it up a little to protect the skin on your face as well as your eyes, a face shield is what you need. This affordable model comes in a six-pack and features an anti-fog coating along with hypoallergenic foam for comfort.

Cleaning gloves: Elgood Reusable Cleaning Gloves
The most important area to protect when cleaning is your hands. If your hands have ever felt slick or oily when using a disinfectant containing bleach, that feeling is actually the skin on your hands breaking down and dissolving. This offering from Elgood is a two-pack of reusable, latex-free, nonslip cleaning gloves with cotton lining.

Disinfecting bathroom spray prices
 

Inexpensive: For less than $10, you can find a number of products that clean and disinfect. Some are very effective but read the label to determine if the product can do what you need it to do.

Mid-range: From $10 to $25, you'll find the greatest variety of products, from broad spectrum disinfectants to cleaners masquerading as disinfectants. For most individuals, if you read the label thoroughly, you will find precisely what you need for $15 or $16.

High-end: As you move above $25, the two most important elements to change will be volume (you may get a multi-pack or a large refill container) and formula. For instance, at the upper end of the price spectrum, you may find specially formulated disinfecting bathroom cleaners that are less harsh on your skin and the environment.
 

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Did You Know?
In order to achieve maximum effectiveness, a disinfectant must remain on the surface for a period of time before it’s wiped off. With some products, this amount of time may be as long as 10 minutes.
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Tips

The chemicals found in disinfectants can be dangerous. If used incorrectly, they can damage your skin, eyes, and/or lungs. If ingested, they can lead to accidental poisoning. Following are a few safety tips to keep in mind when using disinfecting bathroom cleaners.

  • Read and follow all instructions. Check out any and all written materials from the manufacturer. Do not take any shortcuts or adapt how you use the product, as this can create unsafe conditions or, in some instances, diminish the product's effectiveness.
  • Keep lids closed. If you have a refill container, make sure the lid is fastened to reduce the chance of spills.
  • Do not mix products or pour in other containers. While most of us realize we should never mix two cleaning products, it is just as dangerous to pour chemicals into a container with no label — or one that was once used to store a different cleaning product. Keep all disinfectants in their original containers.
  • Use proper PPE. When using harsh chemicals, protect yourself. Be sure to wear all the recommended personal protective equipment when using disinfectants.
  • Use with adequate ventilation. Many disinfectants can cause headaches, dizziness, and nausea if used in a location without adequate ventilation. Be sure the air is circulating freely when using a disinfecting bathroom cleaner.
  • Do not use on skin or near food. Disinfectants are not formulated to be used as hand cleaner. In other words, do not use this product as you would use soap. Also, avoid spraying the cleaner on or near food products, which could lead to accidental poisoning.
  • Store as directed in a safe location. Many disinfectants have specific instructions for storage. Be sure to follow them. Additionally, keep all containers tightly sealed and locked up or, at the very least, in a location inaccessible to children and pets.
  • Wash up. Even after removing and cleaning or disposing of your PPE, it is important to wash with soap and water to make sure no chemicals are lingering on your skin.
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Spray disinfectants have a recommended spraying distance for ideal coverage. Do not hold the bottle too close or too far away from the surface you are disinfecting.

FAQ

Q. What is the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting?

A. Cleaning simply removes materials, such as dust and dirt, from a surface through the process of scrubbing or washing and rinsing. Sanitizing reduces specific bacteria (the kind identified on the sanitizer's label) by at least 99.9%. Disinfecting is much like sanitizing, but it kills a wider range of specific microorganisms (bacteria, viruses, mildew, or fungi).

Q. What is meant by "specific bacteria?" Doesn't a disinfectant kill everything?

A. No. Sanitizers and disinfectants are only effective on specific microorganisms. Each is tested against specific germs to determine if it is potent enough to be called a sanitizer or a disinfectant. This is extremely important for the consumer to realize because it means that not all disinfectants are the same. In other words, if you do not read the label to determine if a disinfectant is effective against the microorganism you need eradicated, you have no idea if the product is even working.

Q. Are there any government regulations regarding disinfectants?

A. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an independent executive agency of the United States federal government, regulates sanitizers and disinfectants. Each individual product is certified through extensive testing to determine if it meets predefined criteria. It is unlawful to label a product a sanitizer or disinfectant until it has been certified by the EPA. After certification, a product must have a label that contains wording approved by the EPA as well.

 

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