Those disinfecting wipes you are using relentlessly to clean hard surfaces, handles and door knobs right now may just be regular wipes and "disinfecting" in name only.
The disinfecting ingredients have a relatively short shelf life. That's good news if you are using them up quickly to prevent the spread of coronavirus germs, bad news if you bought in bulk and put away in cleaning supply storage.
Cleaners like Clorox Disinfecting wipes are listed as effective against COVID-19, which is the official name of the disease related to the coronavirus that first started to affect people at the end of 2019.
However, "All Clorox Equity & Fraganzia products shelf life is one year," the Clorox website says, with the exception of a few products that don't include wipes.
The one year of effectiveness begins with the manufacture date, which is printed in black stamp on the side, near the bottom of container of Clorox wipes.
Using this tub of wipes as an example, the stamp reads:
The first set of numbers after the first two letters indicate when the product was made. In this case the important number is 19331.
According to the Clorox website, the first number is the year and the rest of the digits are the day. So, 19 is indicating 2019 and 331 is the 331st day of that year. A quick Google search shows that was November 27, 2019. With one year shelf life, we know this particular tub of wipes will expire November 27, 2020.
It's possible to buy products that have already lost their effectiveness. With the rate cleaning supplies are being bought up during the pandemic crisis, that is less of a concern now, but it might be worth looking at product you may have had in the house for a while.
Lysol, Great Value and other cleaning product manufacturers have their own shelf life guidelines which differ from Clorox. Most have information available online, but you can also call the customer service phone number listed on the product bottle.
The Environmental Protection Agency lists which products are effective against the novel coronavirus.
Contact April Barton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-660-1854. Follow her on Twitter @aprildbarton.
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