Air Freshener And Disinfectant Spray Are Not The Same Thing

Air Freshener And Disinfectant Spray Are Not The Same Thing
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There’s a tricky category of product out there: cans of stuff that can be sprayed into the air of a room, with labels saying they can kill bacteria. Here’s the catch: Those are two different functions.

The U.S. EPA has a list of surface disinfectants that it considers to be effective against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Several products that look like air fresheners are on the list.

The products on the list—including Lysol’s line here—sure look like they can be sprayed into the air, but read the instructions and you’ll see that their claims about disinfecting and sanitising apply to surfaces. (For example, Lysol Disinfectant Spray – Crisp Linen bears a claim that it “Kills cold & flu viruses*” where the asterisk states: “*When used as directed.”) Here are the directions:

Pre-clean surfaces prior to use. Hold can upright 6″ to 8″ from surface. Spray 3 to 4 seconds until covered with mist.

To Disinfect:

Surfaces must remain wet for 3 minutes then allow to air dry.

For Norovirus surfaces must remain wet for 10 minutes then allow to air dry

Rinse toys and food contact surfaces with potable water after use.

(There are further instructions, including “to control and prevent mould and mildew” and “to spot sanitise soft surfaces.”)

Contrast that with Lysol Neutra Air spray, which comes in a very similar package but only says that it “kills odor causing bacteria.” It’s not on the EPA’s list. If you’re looking for something to inactivate coronavirus, this ain’t it.

So if you’re spraying a product into the air in hopes that you’re sanitising your living space, stop for a sec and read the directions on the label. The U.S. CDC recommends disinfecting high-touch surfaces in the home, but does not recommend air fresheners as a means of protecting yourself from COVID-19.

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