Things You Should Never Clean With Disinfecting Wipes

Wet Wipe Pulled But Still Attached to Container


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Wet Wipe Pulled But Still Attached to Container

Think Twice Before You Wipe

When you buy disinfecting wipes, you may want to use them on almost everything. But don't do it. On certain surfaces, disinfecting wipes can do a lot more harm than good. Save them for the hard, nonporous surfaces not on this list, manufacturers recommend.

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White Modern Kitchen Featuring Island with Granite Countertop

Granite Countertops

Tempted to clean those gleaming granite countertops with disinfecting wipes? Use caution. Repeatedly scrubbing them with the acidic wipes can break down the sealant on the granite, leaving them vulnerable to long-term damage. For daily cleaning, you can simply use dish soap and hot water. To disinfect them, a spritz of isopropyl alcohol can do the trick, according to the Kitchn.

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Resist the urge to swipe your specs with disinfecting wipes, because they can eat away at the delicate lens coatings, experts say. Instead, clean glasses with a drop of dish soap and warm water, or use a commercial lens cleaner with a soft cloth.

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Two Female Hands Cleaning A Pearl Earring with Black Fabric Cloth

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.  

Clean White Toilet Bowl with White Tiled Floor and Wall

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.

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Delicate Clothing

Got an embarrassing midday stain? Scrubbing at it with a disinfecting wipe may make it less noticeable, but it won't do certain types of clothing any favors. The alcohol in the wipes can fade colors and damage more delicate acrylic and acetate garments. Our favorite way to clean up in a pinch? Portable stain solutions like Tide to Go

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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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We hope we don't need to tell you this, but you should never clean fruit, veggies, or any other food with disinfecting wipes, as the ingredients are not meant to be ingested and may lead to vomiting. The FDA says all you need to do is rinse, rub, or scrub produce under running water to make it safe to eat (you don't even need soap). 

Woman's Hands Holding Cup of Coffee with a Heart Design in Espresso, Sitting on the Wooden Floor

Unfinished Wood Furniture or Floors

Like the rustic look? Be careful. While Clorox says you can use its disinfecting wipes on wood, the company specifies it 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.

Close-Up of Female Hands Holding Three Glass Tupperware Containers on Table with Fresh Raw Vegetables

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.  

Woman's Hands Sanitizing Her Smartphone with a Disinfecting Cloth Being Used By One Hand to Clean the Screen

Use Caution: Your Smartphone

Until recently, most experts cautioned against using disinfecting wipes to clean your smartphone, but the pandemic 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.)