Be careful with sanitizing products

State environmental officials are warning Alaskans to be careful in their purchases of sanitizing products that may not provide needed protection.

“There is a significant shortage of surface sanitizing wipes, such as Clorox wipes, and we are now seeing hand wipes stocked in their place in the cleaning products aisles of retailers across the state,” said Karin Hendrickson, Pesticide Program coordinator. “Hand wipes are not effective for surface sanitizing, and Alaskans need to be aware of this so that they don’t purchase the wrong product by mistake.”

The trick is to look for the Environmental Protection Agency registration number on the page, which assures the produce is safe to use as a surface sanitizer, DEC officials said.

Before registering a product, the EPA analyzes each product’s contents and manufacturing process to ensure it will be effective. There are several things that can limit how well a product will sanitize surfaces: does it have effective ingredients? Is there enough of it to work? Has it been manufactured and packaged in a way to preserve the active ingredient?

The EPA also reviews whether the contents of a product are safe for consumers, animals, and the environment. They require safety information to protect consumers, such as the need to wear gloves or take other protective measures. 

Hand sanitizers are designed to be safe to apply to the skin, and often have lower concentrations of sanitizing ingredients than surface sanitizers to prevent irritation or harm. They would not be expected to meet EPA effectiveness requirements for surface sanitation.