Can't find Lysol spray? Use one of these CDC-approved disinfectants instead

What coronavirus disinfectants to use, plus what won't kill the virus.

coronavirus disinfectants
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Can't find Lysol spray? It's pretty hard to come by these days (we've been tracking where Lysol is in stock regularly), but all is not lost. According to the CDC, there are a number of other ways to stay on top of your cornavirus disinfecting. 

Here, we've rounded up the CDC-approved disinfectants for killing coronavirus, plus a few solutions that won't do the trick, so you can make sure to only use what's effective.

And just because we feel like we now have to make this clear: It is not a good idea to inject or injest bleach or any of the disinfectants below in any way, shape, or form. These cleaners are for disinfecting surfaces only.

Effective coronavirus disinfectants

Quarternary ammonium compounds

Quaternary ammonium compounds (or Quats) are a category of disinfectants used for many of the popular bleach-free disinfecting wipes and sprays including Lysol and Clorox wipes. While Lysol and Clorox products are hard to come by, other lesser-known brands, like Pine-Glo are still relatively available, though Pine-Glo is primarily available in stores like Walmart and Dollar General. 

Microban 24 Hour Multi-Purpose Cleaner and Disinfectant Spray| $3.99 at Target

This powerful quat-based disinfectant spay kills germs on surfaces for up to 24 hours after cleaning. It's currently available for shipping from Target with $25 orders. 


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Case of (12) 32 oz Spray Bottles All-Purpose Cleaner | $62.31 at MSC Industrial Supply

If you're looking for disinfectant spray for a business or health care operation, check out MSC Industrial Supply, which has it in stock by the case.View Deal

Sodium hypochlorite (Bleach)

Bleach is a fast and effective way to disinfect hard surfaces or color-fast laundry. Grab a bottle at your local grocery store if your can find it, then dilute in a spray bottle (4 tsp of bleach per quart of water).  Check out our guide to making a bleach spray cleaner here.  

Mold Armor 1-Gallon Liquid Mold Remover| $19.98 at Lowe's

This mold-killing cleaner is also a disinfectant thanks to sodium hypochlorite as an active ingredient. The CDC lists this specific brand of cleaner on its list of approved disinfectants. It's currently available for shipping from Lowe's.View Deal

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide can be used in a spray bottle to kill all sorts of viruses and bacteria including, according to the CDC, coronavirus. The key with hydrogen peroxide is to let it sit on the surface for about five minutes and then wipe it off. Also,  this cleaner is best used on non-porous surfaces like doorknobs or tile floors. 

Walgreens Hydrogen Peroxide Solution | $1.29 at Walgreens

This 3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution is in stock at half-a-dozen Walgreens stores near us. Most stores where it was available had 2-5 in stock, but two stores had 10+ in stock.


Clorox Stain & Odor Remover Spray for Pets, 32 fl. oz. |$6.99 at Petco

This hydrogen peroxide-based cleaner is designed for pet messes, but it can be used to sanitize and hard surface. It's in stock as of the time of publication.View Deal

Alcohol

Alcohol, the main ingredient in most hand sanitizers, will also kill coronavirus and is one of the quickest ways to do so. Just be sure your solution is properly concentrated. It should be at least 60 percent alcohol. Which means, despite rumors a few weeks back that vodka could be used in lieu of hand sanitizer, you won't find a proper disinfectant in the liquor cabinet.

We've started to see hand sanitizer more readily available in stores, which is good news. If you can find it, go for the spray version, since it can be used in a pinch to sanitize things like grocery cart handles, your car door handles or steering wheel instead of disinfecting wipes. 

PineSol | $11.83 at Staples

PineSol contains Isopropyl alcohol and is an EPA-registered disinfectant. We found this 144 oz. bottle in stock at Staples on April 24.View Deal

Cabinet's Pay What You Can Preparedness Kit | Was $40, now $30 at Cabinet

This kit contains essentials that'll help keep you healthy through the coronavirus pandemic and the rest of flu season. It includes two bottles of spray hand sanitizer, plus cold & flu medicine. While it's $30 for the general public, health care workers can email help@wearecabinet.com for tailored discounts and a pay-what-you-can policy.


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Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Hand Sanitizer in Basil | $3.49 at Target

This Mrs. Meyers hand sanitizer is available in-store from Target as of April 29. The travel size is perfect for packing in your pocket on a grocery run. View Deal

100% Pure Hand Sanitizer Spray| $5.00 at 100% Pure

For $5 you can nab this FDA compliant hand sanitizer infused with aloe and tea tree oil.View Deal

What won't kill coronavirus?

While there is some debate over the efficacy of cleaners like vinegar and oxygen bleach (like OxiClean) on coronavirus, Dr. Bill Carroll, Ph.D., an adjunct professor of chemistry at the University of Indiana and the former president-elect of the American Chemical Society, says now is not the time for grey areas.

"If neither the CDC nor any other authoritative group has conducted specific research around these agents, and there are tools you know you can use, stick with what you know works," Carroll says. "You know you can use bleach solution, hydrogen peroxide, and 70 percent alcohol, so use those, because the consequences of not knowing if something works or not could be dire."

Even if you find a compelling argument for the use of an alternative cleaner, says Carroll, you'd still be left with questions around the proper application. For example, if you were to use oxygen bleach, which is typically in powder form, what's the best way to turn it into a solution? And how long should that solution sit in order to be effective? Knowing the answers to these questions is key to effectively killing any sort of bacteria or virus so, again, it's best to stick to tried-and-tested disinfectants.

The same goes for many of the all-natural cleaners on the market, and those made with essential oils. If you're unsure if a product will be an effective coronavirus fighter, check that the label says something to the tune of "kills XX percent of germs," uses terms like "anti-bacterial," or lists one of the CDC-approved disinfectants above as an active ingredient. 

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