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Disinfecting Wipes Will Destroy These Products

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disinfecting wipes
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Pearl Jewelry

Swiping and scrubbing those heirloom pearls with alcohol-infused disinfecting wipes isn't a good idea. They can damage softer stones including pearls, opals, and emeralds. Pearls are also susceptible to damage from ammonia, also typically found in wipes. Again, all you really need here is warm water and a mild soap, experts say.

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Your Toilet and Plumbing

Your toilet can be ground zero for germs, and you can certainly use disinfecting wipes to clean the seat and exterior with no ill effects. But there's a big catch: Never, never flush them when you're done, experts warn. Unlike toilet paper, wipes don't adequately dissolve when they're flushed, which can clog your pipes and mean big plumbing bills in the long run.

Related: 17 Lies That Plumbers Tell to Drain Your Wallet

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Vehicle Touchscreens

Your greasy fingerprints are all over it, but put those disinfecting wipes away. The alcohol and ammonium compounds in the wipes can eat away the screens' protective coatings and eventually cause fogging or blotching, manufacturers warn. Instead, clean these screens with soap and water, taking care not to get them too wet. Nissan also recommends wipes specially formulated for screens, but specifically warns against any that are "anti-microbial."

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Unfinished Wood Furniture or Floors

Like the rustic look? Be careful. While Clorox says you can use its disinfecting wipes on wood, an asterisk notes the company means only "polyurethane treated wood." Because unfinished wood acts as a sponge, it can absorb too much of the wipes' cleaning solution, eventually swelling, cracking, or warping. The Canadian Conservation Institute recommends dry cleaning methods such as using a stiff brush and a vacuum.

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Fabric Upholstery and Carpet

Always check labels before using any sort of cleaner on fabric upholstery or carpet, which can become discolored when used with certain cleaners. And as Apartment Therapy notes, disinfecting wipes just plain won't work on most soft, porous surfaces.

Best Food Storage Containers
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Dishes and Food Storage Containers

If you eat off of it or store food inside it, be sure not to wipe it down with a disinfecting wipe, as convenient as it may be. The chemicals in the wipes aren't meant to be ingested, of course, and can linger on hard surfaces. If you really want to disinfect your dishes, use the hottest water possible on their next trip through the dishwasher, buy antibacterial dish soap, or use a solution of bleach and water, Real Simple recommends

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Use Caution: Your Smartphone

Until recently, most experts cautioned against using disinfecting wipes to clean your smartphone, but the pandemic has turned conventional wisdom on its head. Apple now says it's okay to use wipes to clean your phone, but warns that you need to be gentle and stick to the hard outer surfaces, taking care not to get cleaner inside the charging ports or other openings. (For the record, Samsung also says disinfectants are okay, but recommends they be applied with a microfiber cloth.)