Make a CDC-approved disinfectant with one simple ingredient

Use this household staple to make a CDC-approved disinfectant

Make a CDC-approved cleaner with this one simple ingredient
(Image credit: Getty)

As the novel coronavirus persists around the globe, disinfecting our homes is still high on the list of ways we can help stop its spread. We're talking tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, pretty much anything we touch, especially after venturing out of the house for groceries (or if you live in an apartment building, venturing out of your four walls at all). 

Home cleaning essentials and disinfectant sprays are sold out pretty much everywhere. According to the World Health Organization, COVID-19 could live on surfaces for a few hours up to several days, so it's important to stay on top of your cleaning. Advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has given us a disinfectant option, and you've probably already got the key ingredient. 

According to the CDC, we can use diluted household bleach solutions to easily disinfect, if appropriate for the surface (note, hard non-porous surfaces are the best candidates for bleach-based cleaning solutions. And just because we now feel like we need to offer a disclaimer: It's never safe to inject or injest bleach.). 

Like all things that will help protect us during the coronavirus pandemic, bleach is selling out fast, as is the equipment you'll need to follow a CDC-approved disinfectant routine. We're keeping tabs on everything you need to make this cleaner and updating this page often. 

How to make a CDC-approved disinfectant with bleach

According to the CDC, we can use diluted household bleach solutions to easily disinfect, if appropriate for the surface (note, hard non-porous surfaces are the best candidates for bleach-based cleaning solutions). 

Like all things that will help protect us during the coronavirus pandemic, bleach is selling out fast, as is the equipment you'll need to follow a CDC-approved disinfectant routine. (We're keeping tabs on everything you need to make this cleaner and updating this page often.)

Clorox Disinfecting Bleach, Concentrated Formula | $6.25 at Walmart

Buying bleach online can be tough right now, but we did manage to find this bottle in stock for shipping at Walmart (even two-day shipping in some areas) as of April 24. View Deal

To make an effective bleach solution, you'll need to mix a third of a cup of bleach per gallon of water, or four teaspoons bleach per quart of water. Keep the surface wet for 10 minutes, to ensure germs are killed, and then wipe down as normal. 

You should also follow the manufacturer instructions, keep your space ventilated and not mix in anything other than water with your bleach. To be on the safe side, you should consider mixing your solution in a clean, new spray bottle. We've found some purpose-made bottles below.

Also note: never mix bleach with ammonia or vinegar. It creates a toxic gas. And never inject or injest it.

The CDC is also very clear that you'll need to wear disposable gloves when you clean and disinfect. These are sold out in most places, but we've found a good option. The CDC also warns that we should check that our bleach isn't past its expiry date, as only unexpired bleach will be an effective coronavirus-killer when appropriately diluted. 

  • See Target's in-stock bleach options (If nothing is showing up for delivery, check in-store availability via their website or the Target app so you can pick it up. We did see multiple options for pick up in our area when we checked at the time of publication).

Marshalltown One-Size Fits All rubber gloves | $2.98 at Lowe's
Go for a pair of reusable rubber gloves like these ones we found at Lowe's. They're easier to find right now, you can use them more than one, and you won't have to worry about using up the short-supply of latex gloves currently needed by healthcare workers. View Deal

Whitmor Spray Bottle | $2.98 at Target
This 32 oz. spray bottle is perfect for mixing your own cleaning solutions and disinfectant. Just be sure to label the bottle to avoid mixups. View Deal

Where to find bleach

Bleach is sold out almost everywhere online. If you're out of bleach at home, you should be able to grab some if you go to your local store early. We recommend checking the websites of retailers like Target or Lowe's that allow you to see the stock in the store before you head out.

 If you've got something at home and you're not sure it'll work, check out this CDC list of approved disinfectants to be sure. 

In general, the following work to disinfect surfaces:

Clorox 121 oz Bleach| $2.69 at Target

Buying bleach online can be tough right now, but we did manage to find some in stock for shipping at Target. Note that it (like most household items) only ships with $25 orders.

Up & Up Lavendar Scented Bleach | $2.99 at Target
Target's brand of bleach is in stock in many of the stores around us (in the suburban New York City area), especially when we check first thing in the morning. View Deal

Clorox Disinfecting Bleach | $6.19 at Target
Clorox disinfectant bleach is a powerful deep-cleaner, and an ideal choice if it's available near you (we haven't see it available for shipping in the last day). But again, you can check if it's available to pick up in your local store under the delivery options on the right hand side of the page.View Deal

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