How to Disinfect Table Surfaces

Whether it’s doing homework, playing a game with your family, eating a meal together, or snacking on nachos at 2 a.m., the kitchen table is often the center of the home.

With everything going on at the dinner table, it’s no surprise that it’s also the center of a lot of unsavory stuff: traces of last night’s tikka masala, pencil shavings, smudges from your two-year-old’s sticky fingers, and, yes, germs.

But what’s the best way to get rid of those germs? Or, for that matter, the germs on any table surfaces in your home? 

Between sanitizing wipes, store-bought cleaning agents, and DIY solutions, there are a lot of options for disinfecting the table surfaces in your home. We’re here to tell you about the best ones.

Should you use alcohol-based wipes to disinfect table surfaces? 

Wood table in a kitchen

Alcohol-based wipes (more commonly known as disinfecting or sanitizing wipes) are convenient and easy to use, but should you use them on your table surfaces?

The answer, unfortunately, isn’t totally clear. There are a lot of different factors that come into play:

  • What is your table made of? Certain surfaces, like granite or untreated wood, shouldn’t be cleaned with alcohol-based solutions. 
  • Are you using the wipe on multiple surfaces? Wipes shouldn’t be used on multiple surfaces because they can spread germs around. 
  • Is the wipe EPA-registered? The wipe should always be EPA-registered.
  • Are you using it exactly as according to package directions? You need to follow the package’s directions for them to work the way they're advertised. Many brands specify that you need to let the solution sit for a certain number of minutes for it to take effect.

While there are probably other concerns and specifics that you could search, the answer is basically yes, you can use an alcohol-based wipe on table surfaces. Just make sure to follow the package instructions. 

If you'd like a disinfection solution that takes mere seconds and doesn't use harsh chemical cleaners, try the SurfaceSoap UV wand. It kills 99.99% of germs in seconds with just a swipe.*

How long does coronavirus survive on surfaces?

Kitchen counter

According to the CDC, coronaviruses (including COVID-19) naturally die within hours to days on surfaces, especially when exposed to sunlight and warmer temperatures. And while that’s somewhat reassuring, we don’t usually have days to wait. To help ensure that the surfaces you touch are coronavirus-free, use a disinfectant. (We've got more about that below.)

Similarly, the risk for contracting the coronavirus via mail is low but not impossible. The main way the virus is spread is through droplets from coughing and sneezing. However, coronavirus can live on cardboard for up to 24 hours, so if anyone handling a package you receive is contaminated, it’s possible that you could contract the virus, too.

After you open any mail, dispose of the package and wash your hands thoroughly. For the record, postal workers go to great lengths to make sure to handle your mail properly so they don’t spread any germs, but it’s best to be cautious, especially in case anyone else has touched your mail along the way.

How to disinfect the workplace against coronavirus

The CDC’s website has guidelines for this specific question:

“Normal routine cleaning with soap and water will decrease how much of the virus is on surfaces and objects, which reduces the risk of exposure.” Additionally, the website states: “Disinfection using EPA-approved disinfectants against COVID-19 can also help reduce the risk. Frequent disinfection of surfaces and objects touched by multiple people is important.”

If disinfecting table surfaces in the workplace sounds simple, that’s because it is. The basics—soap and water—will work wonders. For more heavy-duty cleaning, we’ve assembled a list of EPA-approved cleaning agents that will kill those icky coronavirus germs. There are even amazing DIY solutions you can make with items in your own home.

And don't forget about SurfaceSoap UV, the sanitizing wand that tackles freeloading pathogens with a simple swipe!

Creating a bleach-based disinfecting solution

For those of you who are interested in making your own bleach-based disinfecting solution, you’re in luck.

Before we get to the specifics, here’s an important note: NEVER mix bleach with ammonia or any other cleaner. Doing so can be extremely dangerous, so it’s imperative that you mix the bleach only with water. Also, it’s advised that you make a new bleach-based solution each time you clean. Sadly, diluted bleach solutions degrade over time into just salt and water.

If you’re wondering about the specific type of bleach that you own, Clorox’s website has the niftiest tool telling you how to make a disinfecting solution with your specific bottle. For more info, click here.

Generally, though, you can follow these guidelines:

  • Mix 1 half cup of standard household bleach into 1 gallon of cool water. For smaller batches, mix 2 tablespoons of bleach into a quart of cool water.
  • Clean the surface with your bleach/water solution and allow it to sit for at least 2 minutes before wiping it down.
  • Use a microfiber towel or synthetic sponge when wiping the applied bleach, as things like paper towels can degrade the solution and make it less effective.

 That’s it! Easy, right?

The COVID-19 pandemic is stressful enough, and cleaning your tabletops and surfaces shouldn’t add to the chaos. Thankfully, with the right cleaning solutions, you can rest easy knowing that your home is safe and clean.

*SurfaceSoap UV was tested by BIOSCIENCE LABORATORIES, LLC against Salmonella enterica (ATCC # 10708), Staphylococcus aureus (ATCC # 6538), and HCoV-OC43 (Zeptometrix #0810024CF). SurfaceSoap UV was tested by scanning glass slides containing these microbes and shown to kill up to 99.99% of the previously specified bacteria, and 99.9% of the specified virus strain. Tests were performed with the SurfaceSoap UV moving at 3 inches per second and held 1 inch from the exposed surface.

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