If you can’t find household cleaners, diluted bleach can work just as well.

In order to disinfect surfaces—like countertops or doorknobs—the CDC recommends using soap and water followed by a disinfectant, to kill any remaining virus particles that the soap didn’t get. But we know not everyone has the EPA-approved disinfectants, and it has been challenging to find them in grocery stores and even online. 

Good news: diluted household bleach will work just as well as any other disinfectant as long as the bleach that you have is meant for killing germs and the surface you are cleaning is okay to use diluted bleach on.

Next steps: 

  1. Check the label of your bleach to make sure it says for disinfection and that it is not past its expiration date. Some bleaches used for laundry (such as for whitening or safe to use on colored clothing) may not work as a disinfectant.
  2. Follow the label instructions for application and proper ventilation.
  3. Make a bleach solution by mixing 5 tablespoons (⅓ cup) bleach per gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water.
  4. Leave this diluted solution on the surface for at least 1 minute (this is your contact time) prior to wiping dry.

For more information on cleaning and disinfecting your home, see these CDC guidelines.


Last updated: April 15, 2020, 6:15 PM ET

Science review: JAB, ERS