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Updated September 2022
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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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Buying guide for Best disinfectant wipes

Disinfectant wipes have been a core product stocked in homes, vehicles, and businesses for decades. As we became more informed on how to protect ourselves from viruses and germs, especially during the pandemic, the demand for disinfectant wipes increased dramatically. When shopping for these essential cleaning products, there are so many options, that it’s hard to know which to choose.

The best disinfectant wipes kill viruses, bacteria, and fungi. They can be used on a variety of surfaces, and they’re easy to remove from the container. Disinfectant wipes save time since they’re already moist, and save money because they limit the number of products you need to purchase.

Since there is a magnitude of quality disinfectant wipes available, a little education can remind you why they’re necessary. Also, reviewing a curated list of top options can help you learn what types of disinfectant wipes are available.

wiping door handle
Disinfectant wipes are also called antibacterial wipes or antiviral wipes.

How to buy the best disinfectant wipes

How do disinfectant wipes work?

Disinfectant wipes are nonwoven fibrous sheets that are pre-moistened with a disinfectant solution. The average size of a wipe is 7 by 8 inches. The sheets are more durable than a paper towel and can be rubbed back and forth over an area without disintegrating or leaving behind fibers. Since the sheet is pre-moistened, there’s no need to worry about which type of cleaner you should add.

Many brands look like a roll of paper towels and are dispensed from a hole in the top of the container lid. Others stack the wipes flat in the package so they can be pulled out one at a time from a resealable opening.

After you choose the area you want to clean, wipe the surface thoroughly several times. The area should appear wet. It’s best to let the disinfectant stand for three to five minutes before giving it one final wipe. When you’re done cleaning one surface, dispose of the wipe. You should use a clean wipe on each new surface to avoid any cross-contamination.

Expert Tip
Never store or leave wipes in a car. Hot and cold weather conditions can cause wipes to dry out and not work properly.
BestReviews Cleaning Expert

Not all wipes are the same

Disinfectant wipes: Disinfectant wipes are meant to destroy viruses, fungi, and bacteria on hard, nonporous surfaces. While it’s okay to use them with your hands, they aren’t intended to clean skin, and gloves are recommended for long-term use.

Sanitizing wipes: These wipes will reduce 99.99% of bacteria on a surface. They can also be used on your skin without worry. The pre-moistened sheets may be used every day and won’t break down plastic, vinyl, or rubber.

Hospital-grade disinfectant wipes: Hospital-grade disinfectant wipes remove germs and kill over 100 different types of microorganisms. These wipes are not just for medical facilities but are also safe for home use. EPA testing determined these wipes kill more germs than standard disinfectant wipes.

Why you should use disinfectant wipes

E. coli, salmonella, cold, and flu are just a few of the popular germs that lurk in your living spaces. Even the cleanest person can’t control what others have on their fingers, their belongings, and their shoes. Disinfectant wipes are the front-line artillery that let you combat these uninvited germs.

Disinfectant wipes are portable, convenient, and affordable. There’s no reason not to keep them in your home for regular cleaning, in your car for unexpected mishaps, or at your office to clean up after coworkers use your devices.

Expert Tip
Always read the back of your wipes to check which products you can use them on and to see if they're safe for your skin.
BestReviews Cleaning Expert

What can you clean with disinfectant wipes?

Most of us are familiar with the germs that linger on doorknobs and cell phones, but there are some unexpected places where germs hide that even Alice from the Brady Bunch might overlook.

Light switches: We’ve all been trained to turn out the light when leaving the room, so this increases the amount of hand traffic that hits a light plate. When you enter a bathroom, you often turn on the light when entering. Since most of us don’t wash our hands before using the facilities, cleaning this surface is crucial.

Stove knobs: Many home cooks' first step is to preheat the oven. Sometimes, this is done before washing. Other times, it may be done after handling raw meats or poultry. Don’t take a chance of contamination. It’s even a good idea to periodically pop the knobs off the stove and wipe behind them.

Microwave handles: Regularly wiping down the inside of the microwave so you know you’re heating your meal in a clean space is a must. But what about the door handle? If you work in an office, you hear the beep of the microwave all day long. Each beep is signaling another set of hands opening that door. Be the employee who steps up to make sure that handles get cleaned.

Earbuds/headphones: Whether you wear these items to listen to music or as a fashion statement, your head, neck, and ears can get pretty gross. If you’re sporting them at the gym, there’s a good chance they’re doused in sweat and contain bacteria. They may even have made contact with weight benches that contain other germs. Frequently wiping down your earbuds and headphones is a must.

TV remotes and gaming controllers: Not only are these items repeatedly touched throughout the day, they’re some of the most frequently lost household items. If you’re fishing the remote out from underneath the couch cushions or a gaming controller is found inside your teenager’s sneakers, these items deserve the attention of a wipe.

If you want to know if your disinfectant wipes are effective at killing the COVID-19 virus, the EPA has created a list of products that can accomplish that task.

STAFF
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What features do disinfectant wipes have?

Scent

The best part of cleaning is that fresh smell. Citrus is the most popular scent associated with cleaning supplies. Other choices for wipes include pine and lavender. Unscented options are available for those who are sensitive to fragrance.

Materials

There are many materials that make up these fibrous sheets, such as cotton, wood pulp, polyester, or rayon. The key is making sure the wipes you choose are both durable and disposable. Environmentally conscious consumers can purchase compostable wipes or biodegradable bamboo wipes.

Size

Disinfectant wipes come in travel packages that have just enough for an outing or a jumbo container that has enough to disinfect all twenty-three rooms of the Graceland mansion. No matter your need, there’s a choice to accommodate you.

wiping door handle
DID YOU KNOW?
The first pre-moistened wipe was created in the late 1950s by Arthur Julius. The product was originally intended to be used in the cosmetic industry, but it didn’t become popular until it was purchased by KFC for use after eating the Colonel’s “finger-lickin’ good” chicken.
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How much do disinfectant wipes cost?

Inexpensive

The standard offering comes with 35 wipes in a container. This option will average seven to 10 cents per sheet, making the average cost under $3.50. Obviously, if you purchase a container of 75 wipes, the overall cost will be more, but the price per wipe will remain low.

Mid-range

If you purchase a travel pack of your favorite brand, the additional packaging will raise the price per wipe a little, putting them at roughly 12 to 14 cents per sheet. You can get more bang for your buck if you purchase a bundle of multiple travel containers sold together.

Expensive

Environmentally friendly wipes, especially those that are biodegradable, are priced a bit higher and can fall into the range of 20 to 23 cents per sheet. A single container of these wipes may cost $8.00 or more. Again, if you purchase a larger container, the overall cost will be higher.

For safety, never remove the product label from the wipes container or use any product that’s unlabeled — you won’t know what chemicals it contains.

STAFF
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Tips

  • Clean first. A disinfectant wipe’s primary job is to disinfect, and the wipe can’t accomplish this if the area is dirty. Before using a disinfectant wipe, make sure the area is clean. If it isn’t, wash it down with soap and water.
  • Always read the package. The container will tell you which surfaces are safe for your wipes. If you want to use disinfectant wipes on an electronic item, consult the owner’s manual to learn the proper way to clean your device so you don’t inadvertently damage it.
  • Keep disinfectant wipes away from food. Disinfectant wipes should not come in contact with food, since the chemicals are too harsh. Choices for kitchen counters include EPA-registered surface sanitizing wipes, food service sanitizing wipes, or antibacterial wipes. If you accidentally use a disinfectant wipe on a surface meant for food, simply rinse the surface with water and dry with a clean towel.
  • Dried-out wipes can be salvaged. If you forget to close the package of your wipes and they dry out, add a bit of water, close the lid, and turn the container upside down. The dried-out wipes will rehydrate and will be as good as new.
wiping counter top
Always keep the wipe container closed and out of the reach of pets and children.

FAQ

Q. Do disinfectant wipes expire?

A. It’s the manufacturer’s choice to include a best-by date on the product. A general rule of thumb is disinfectant wipes have a two-year shelf life, while products with an antibacterial component are best used one year from the manufacturing date.

Q. Can I flush disinfectant wipes down the toilet?

A. Only waste and toilet paper should be flushed down the toilet. Many disinfectant wipes are not biodegradable. They can clog your plumbing, cause sewer backups, and even make their way into your local waterways. Disinfectant wipes should be tossed in the trash.

Expert Tip
Single packets of wipes do dry out a lot faster than those in full containers, so consider how quickly you plan on using the wipes you buy.
BestReviews Cleaning Expert

Q. Are disinfectant wipes safe for children to use?

A. While some kids like to help around the house, they shouldn’t be the one using disinfectant wipes. Children’s eyes and lungs can be sensitive to the chemicals in these wipes. Read the label to learn the hazards and wait until your children are old enough to safely (and responsibly) use disinfectant wipes. Make sure they wear gloves and possibly a mask when helping with chores. Also, the area they’re cleaning must be well-ventilated to avoid breathing in fumes.

Q. Can I use a disinfectant wipe on my pet?

A. These products are not safe for use on animals. The same ingredients that are harsh on human skin are also harmful to your pet. When using wipes, it’s best to keep your curious critter in another room so they don’t lick or walk through a wet surface.

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